COLOUR FOR THE MIND
By David Congram
Despite interacting with it in every moment of our lives, our understanding of colour has surprisingly come in dribs and drabs throughout history. From Isaac Newton’s experiments with sunlight and prisms in the 1660s, to Josef Albers Interaction of Colour in 1963, to our understanding now, the topic of colour, particularly in architecture and design, can still be quite contentious.
Designing Atmospheres Attuned To The Concerns Of The User
As most basically a manifestation of the visible light spectrum, the actual perception of colour is a highly personal experience. Due to our own physiology, personal preferences, experiences, cultural differences and, of course, immediate context, there is little to no guarantee that anyone will take away the same (likely subconscious) meaning as anyone else, or even that the colour one person perceives will be exactly the same as from their neighbour’s perspective.
Regardless, that’s still no reason to put down your paintbrushes just yet. Within architecture and design, colour holds the same importance it always has. Used in the right situations, colour can assist in healing times, improve concentration, sell things, and even make you better at sport, as one study of athlete’s red uniforms showed.
Furthermore, as another study discusses, “objects in coloured scenes are more easily detected, more easily identified, more easily grouped, and more easily remembered than objects in black-and-white scenes.”
Despite the relativity of emotional response, colours can still be applied with some logical reasoning attached. Designing with blues may give a space a sense of calmness and concentration, while reds are significantly louder, more suitable in moderation or wherever spaces need to be imbued with a sense of energy and passion. Thanks to both genetic and learned meanings, picked up through common cultural or commercial exposure, colour psychology is capable of assigning many colours specific undertones.