After 23 years’ experience in interior design, I would like to share with you four colour agreements I have come to conceive:
- 1 – Colours transmit emotions
Colours influence our emotions and acts, and because of this there is colour psychology! There are colours identified as cold and others as hot.
Cold colours are blues, greens, violets, black and its derivatives.
Hot colours are reds, oranges, magentas, yellows, browns and their derivatives.
Psychologically, cold colours suggest peace, quiet, amplitude, naturalness, ecosystem, infinity … while hot colours suggest vitality, activity, joy, impulsiveness, nervousness.
If we think about it a little, it´s logical given the colours that we encounter in nature: the sun, water, the sky, the earth …
- 2 – Colours act in the same way as music
In music we come across harmony and disharmony.
Harmony with Vivaldi and Bach and disharmony with Stravinsky, for example.
With colours the same applies and when using more than one colour, it is important to recognize some basic rules:
- Harmony – comes about through the use of saturated colours – whereby a little black or white is added to saturated colours
- Disharmony – comes about through the use of complementary colours, for example, a primary with its secondary: blue and orange; magenta and green; yellow and violet
An example of harmony in art history is the Valencian painter Sorolla, and an example of disharmony the contemporary painter Karen Rempel.
- 3 – Colours create light and shade
From the fifteenth century onwards, great painters began to experiment with the magic of light and shade.
Painters such as Goya, Rembrandt or Caravaggio developed techniques to perfect light and shade. Light and shade began to lend perspective, volume and atmospheres rich in chromatic concepts.
In interior design we can use such effects by expert wall painting with combinations of colours.
There are also wallpapers and wall coverings that help to create these luminous effects.
It is by applying this expertise that rich and interesting environments can be created.
- 4 – Colours have cultural significance
Colours vary in significance according to cultural context.
It is important to know the meanings so as to apply or avoid judiciously.
- White: in Europe it signifies purity, peace, cleanliness, angels whereas in China it signifies death, mourning, virginity, bad luck …
- Red: in Europe it signifies energy, excitement, action, passion whereas in China it means luck, celebration, vitality (and with white) joy …
- Blue: in Europe it suggests conservatism, corporatism, authority, truth, sadness, intelligence and integrity whilst in China immortality …
- Yellow: in Europe it points to happiness, joy and danger while in China holiness, imperial, royalty and masculinity
- Brown: in Europe femininity, royalty, spirituality, honour – and in China privilege
- Green: in Europeluck, nature, regeneration – whereas in China – if you were to give as a gift a green hat it would signify that the recipient is a cuckold! So best avoided when wrapping gifts!
- Black: in Europe means mourning, death, destruction, elegance, sobriety whilst in China it is used to dress small children.
The above is intended only to give an indication of how much culture can influence the meaning of colours.
These four colour agreements represent a useful tool when choosing colours in the interior design of a house, business, hotel, even in a brand or packaging …
For example, the famous brand of McDonalds uses two colours: Red and Yellow. The first signifies warmth and childishness while the second power and strength. Another example would be the colour blue used by political parties: corporatist, seriousness, infinity, transparency …
Interior design follows similar precepts.
In private spaces or houses, one might select neutral, saturated colours that reflect harmony, tranquility, balanced beauty or quiet.
Such an example would be: Savasana de Valentine; Jotun 1391 Bare; Titanlux TP409
One might combine them with a more intense darker colour to frame or underline a specific area.
I personally believe that it is through textile coverings on items such as cushions, carpets or other small decorative objects that one can achieve elegant and appropriate points of contrast.
Such examples would be: Brugrer gris Denim; valentine Roseda E731; Jotun Savana Sunset
However, in commercial design or that of public places, one can risk a little more, using colours that are more intense, dynamic and contrasting.
Always, of course, bearing in mind the nature of the business and its leadership! For example:
- A spa: relaxation and well-being – beiges, saturates, whites
- A gym: dynamism – oranges, yellows, magentas and blues
- A hairdresser: well, here, one can be creative according to the clientele!
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