The color of life

By Tim Wright | April 6, 2009

Color is emotion and can speak to the human soul in thousands of different ways. It is an integral element of art, design and aesthetics in general. Explaining color is like trying to explain the mystery of that which holds the moon in place. Perhaps French painter Joseph Fernand Henri Lger defined it best as "a basic human need...like fire and water, a raw material, indispensable to life."

Color touches upon fundamental social science principles of communication, cultural symbolism and societal relations, and involves physics and chemistry. Colors also illicit human behavioral responses and can be studied from a psychological perspective.

Perhaps most importantly, color uplifts the spirit and elevates the soul. Alice Walker once said, "I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it."

I agree with her.

When the color of life turns shades of grey during times of personal or collective hardship, as is the case with the current financial crisis, color is in great demand.

As it relates to business, color attracts consumers and differentiates brands. While consumers vary widely, color is typically the most important factor in making a decision whether to purchase a product or not. It is used as an indicator of quality, an indicator of freshness, a distinguishable sign of whether a product is contemporary or passe. Color can endear a consumer to a product or send a subliminal message that the product is inferior. Color is considered an outward sign of a consumers taste, mood and ultimately personality.

Every year color experts at paint manufacturing companies wrap their brains around color and develop color trend forecasts for consumers and industry. There are many variables that affect the direction of design and color. Trends develop over the course of time. Demographics, changing consumer desires, social and economic changes and technology all converge, or come together, to influence color themes.

When it comes to designing interior living spaces color is arguably the most important aspect of an interior design scheme. It helps coordinate all of the design elements together to create one mood that is trying to be captured in a particular space.

In "Anything but Grey," Richard Prime, a color and design trend forecasting consultant, explores the world of color in today's decorative paint marketplace. He says, "The color options open to the coatings and paint industry are vast and it is very important to realize that color has never held a more powerful position where getting a client to part with money is concerned."

Tim Wright