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Harmonious use of colour:chapter 2

COLOUR AND PSYCHOLOGY

(Colours are the mother tongue of the subconscious – Carl Jung)

Colour is able to provoke different emotions and is thus perceived differently among people.

The colour interpreting process takes place in the brain and for this reason can be described as being subjective. Human perception is to a large extent based on our individual experiences that form our frame of reference.

Thus to one person pink could be interpreted as a pleasant colour due to a positively enforced associated memory. For example, eating pink ice creams on the beach during school holidays. But to another person, the colour pink could be perceived less favourable due to hidings he or she used to receive with a pink belt.

Another example of learnt experiences can be found in cultural groups. For example white is perceived to represent innocence and purity in the western society but not so in the orient where it is associated with death and mourning.

Although general guidelines are provided in this course, they should never be used in isolation without understanding client’s individual needs. The saying Beauty is in the eye of the beholder comes to mind” One person’s preference for a spacious room achieved with light cold colours could be contradictory to another’s  need for a warm and cosy atmosphere crated by using warm dark colours.

One persons need for space and freedom could make another person feel open and vulnerable.

Sight of practicality should not be lost. For example it would not be advisable to be blinded by the glare reflected from a white surface in a sunny room no matter how much you love the emotional connotation of innocent white and the perception of open spaces.

We can generalise that for the most parts people want to achieve a relaxed and secure home environment by means of colour.

In other cinereous the aim might be to achieve excitement, stimulation, or attention as in the case of an entrance hall or retail environment.

Typical examples of where colour is used to manipulate behaviour can be found in the retail industry.

Fast food outlets aim to attract people for a quick bite so as to encourage faster customer turnover.

The former is achieved by using primary colours with strong clean hues like bright red, yellow and green.

Colours that are meant to excite and attract but at the same time are not calming. The mood created will thus not encourage the client to stay for a prolonged period of time.

On the other hand, a bistro would prefer their cliental to stay for longer periods of time wile spending more money. A relaxed atmosphere needs to be created to encourage people in staying. This is generally done by incorporating brown and other dark and more muted colours.

The colour of packaging is another important part of our every day existence where colour is used to influence our thought process.

One particular case study revealed that when a target audience was served the same coffee in different coloured pots they perceived the coffee from the brown pot – too strong, that from the yellow – mild, that from the blue pot to be not aromatic enough, and that from the red pot to be rich and satisfying.

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DESCRIBING COLOUR

The ability to describe colour is also largely dependant on a persons frame of reference related to what he has learnt. Thus one person might only describe a colour as being “dark green” wile another might go as far as saying it is a “dark dirty olivy green” colour with less chroma or saturation.

As a result it is difficult to communicate colour without some type of mutually agreed standard of expression.

Spectrophotometers and other colour measuring equipment facilitate in establishing values for colour.

This type of equipment is usually expensive and is generally used by paint and colourant manufacturers.

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Other authorities like Munsell from America and NCS (Natural Colour System) from Sweden have developed colour card systems with numerical references describing the hue, value and chroma attributes of the colours represented in each individual system.