Why colour is so significant.

Do you feel anxious in a yellow room? Does the color blue make you feel calm and relaxed?

To most designers this really isn’t (or shouldnt be) knew information. Plus for most people this may seem like its “just another designer rambling on and on about Colour. However colour often infuences the thoughts and interpretations of both the Designer and surveyor. Coulours can change the way you think, the way a product look and/or feels. Expressing colour in the modern world is difficult because alot of designers will have their own opinions but colour is always key to the success and follow through of the design.

Colour in design is very individual. What induces one reaction in one person may evoke a very different reaction in somone else. Sometimes this is due to particular inclination, and other times due to cultural background. Colour theory is a science in itself. Studying how colours affect different people, either individually or as a group, is something some people build their careers on. Something as simple as changing the exact hue or saturation of a color can conjure a completely different feeling. Cultural differences mean that something that’s happy and uplifting in one country can be depressing in another.


“Given the prevalence of color, one would expect color psychology to be a well-developed area. Surprisingly, little theoretical or empirical work has been conducted to date on color’s influence on psychological functioning, and the work that has been done has been driven mostly by practical concerns, not scientific rigor.”
Andrew Elliot and Markus Maier.

Despite the universal lack of research in this area, the concept of color psychology has become a hot topic in art, design, and other areas. Much of the substantiation in this emerging area is anecdotal at best, but researchers and experts have made a few important discoveries and observations about the psychology of color and the effect it has on moods, feelings, and behaviors. Of course, as ive already said your feelings about color are often deeply personal and rooted in your own experience or culture. For example, while the colour white is used in many Western countries to represent purity and innocence, it is seen as a symbol of mourning in many Eastern countries as well as being the LGBT colour for Spain. However the black is used in Western countries for mouning and its deemed unacceptable to wear a bright colour at funerals.

Why is color such a powerful force in our lives? What effects can it have on our bodies and minds? Continue reading to further explore the history of color including how it’s used, the effects it may have and the link to Synestesia, Medical Treatment and Interpretations.


First of all allow me to clarify the colour groups as it were:

  • Primary colours — red, yellow, blue
  • Secondary colours — colours, composed of two primary.
  • Warm colours — red, orange, yellow, brown
  • Cold colours — blue, green, purple
  • Neutral colours — white, brown, beige
  • Strong colours — intensive colours, not diluted with black, white or other complementary colour
  • Pale colours — less intensive colours due to mixing with white, black or complementary colour

Several ancient cultures, including the Egyptians and Chinese, practiced chromotherapy, or the use of colors to heal. Chromotherepy is sometimes referred to as light therapy or colorology and is still used today as a holistic or alternative treatment.

In this treatment:


  • Red was used to stimulate the body and mind and to increase circulation.
  • Yellow was thought to stimulate the nerves and purify the body.
  • Orange was used to heal the lungs and to increase energy levels.
  • Blue was believed to soothe illnesses and treat pain.
  • Indigo shades were thought to alleviate skin problems.

“We have undertaken a critical analysis of chromotherapy and documented its scientific evolution to date. A few researchers have tried to discover the underlying scientific principles, but without quantitative study… A number of studies have elaborated the relationship between the human body and colors… This review illustrates that the development of science in the field of electromagnetic radiation/energy can be very helpful in discovering new dimensions of this old theory.”
NCBI Journal 2012

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