How we react to colour
Colour plays an inherent part in the human psyche. There are widely held beliefs that colours can evoke emotions ranging from the anger of red, to the pacifying tones of green, but I feel there is another force at play – the psychology of colour memory.
For some, their school days remind them of friendships made and lessons learned, but for others, like me, it brings back memories of muddy brown uniforms. Brown skirts, brown shoes, brown jumpers – a veritable mud bath of brown. And it is from here that I believe my strong dislike of the colour, and love of all things bright, really began.
According to a recent study on the meaning of the colour brown, though providing a sense of strength and reliability for some, the colour can also evoke feelings of loneliness, sadness and isolation, and in large quantities could even induce a sense of emptiness, devoid of life.
Such symbolism is highly individual, with a large consensus of people unaware of how they react to colour. But when it comes down to it, our historic reaction to certain colours and textures has a huge influence on the colours we chose to have around us in our homes.
Perhaps the problem is choice?
We are bombarded with colour, texture and flavour every day. With each sense continuously heightened, it can be quite challenging to pin down our genuine likes and dislikes. For me, colour is at the heart of our offering. When I set up the design agency in 2014, my original ethos was to encourage our clients to be bold and brave, especially with colour. We know that each use of colour, be it brown or bright pink, will instil a feeling and emotion and our passion is to identify the source of a client’s own style and channel that into beautiful design.
When asking for a client’s brief, we are very often met with the same palette requests – subdued schemes, often featuring blush pink and navy, with all its complimentary colours.
But is this a conscious choice, or are we psychologically encouraged to follow suit?
There is no question that we are subconsciously influenced by fashion and interior trends. Before Little Greene launched its navy collection almost a decade ago, we received a lot of push back from clients when we suggested the colour. Now it is by the far the most popular colour requested as a starting tone today. Navy is a fantastic core colour as the backdrop to more bold and bright colour accents. It’s been fascinating to see the change in client’s opinions as the colour has become more à la mode.
We want to encourage our clients to be brave; to use bold colours in combination with more neutral tones, which we hope will have a positive influence on their everyday lives. A splash of orange against a navy background for example makes people feel like they’re being radical, without it being too much.
From the walls to hero pieces of furniture, I believe that the use of bright colours and pattern doesn’t need to be drastic; it can be an accent – a flush of energetic, powerful drama amidst the more calming tones of a space, which reflect its owner’s personality, will bring a sense of happiness at every turn.
Be bold, be bright – I promise, you’ll love it!
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