Friday, 7 August 2015

Using Colour the Wright Way

The use of colour in design is not a subjective exercise.  It is something which is quantifiable, measurable and can be controlled to your best advantage.  Angela Wright is a Colour Psychologist and colour consultant to designers.  Through her company Colour Affects, she describes the system for using colour which she has developed and how to manage it.  She explains that colour psychology has two parts:
  • The set of basic colours which we all relate to as having characteristics, both positive and negative, and
  • There are four colour families, each with a specific set of common personalities, which they relate to.  
The key is that each colour family has a specific personality type.  Grouping colours together from within the same colour family will always harmonise and direct the viewer in a specific common direction.  Emphasising specific characteristics of the colours can then influence more directly how the viewer feels, thereby objectively influencing its psychological affect.   

We subconsciously associate colours with specific characteristics.
These are the reasons why bishops wear purple and pilots wear black.
Positive references for each colour are given here.  For more, including potential negatives, check out Colour Affects and Angela Wright's book.

Through her research, Angela has confirmed that the component which defines whether a colour is stimulating or calming is not the wavelength (which defines the colour) but the chromatic intensity (the strength of the colour).   For example, a strong bright blue might stimulate mentally and focus the mind, while a soft sky-blue can calm the mind and aid concentration.

Colour Family Type 1: Morning Light
This colour family is fresh, vibrant and has the natural characteristics of Spring.
It is energetic and youthful and probably the most popular colour group designers like to work with.

Colour Family Type 2: Dream Light
This colour family is subtle, delicate and cool.  It has the natural characteristics of Summer.

Colour Family Type 3: Fire Light
This colour group is warm, intensive and evokes references of nature and the countryside.
It has the natural characteristics of Autumn and is probably the colour group which most of us relate to.

Colour Family Type 4: Star Light
This colour group is clear, striking and can be cold.  It contains no subtleties.
It has the natural characteristics of Winter.

Working with colour is a delicate art, and it helps to have a specialist on board like Angela, but with a system like this there is no reason why architects should stick to their favourite greys.

The Colour Affects book.
Currently Angela is working on a new book which she aims to release next year.

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