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July 07
The Power of Color

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Every day, our emotions and feelings are affected by the colors that surround us. The hues that grace the sky, or a label on a product we purchase, or even the walls in a waiting room all affect us and color our experiences, if you will.

On a basic level, our brains take cues from nature – a blue sky and sunshine can make you feel happy or peaceful, while storms or clouds can make you feel a little glum (or make you crave naptime). The same idea – that color elicits a certain feeling – is true in every facet of life. 

Advertisers have known this for decades. You’ve probably noticed color patterns in labels and branding. Green conveys a sense of peace, growth, and health – think of the labels of Whole Foods or Tropicana. Red is a bold choice associated with youth and excitement, like the labels of Coca Cola or Nintendo. Blue is calming, as it communicates dependability, strength, and trust – think credit cards, like Visa and American Express or tech companies, like Facebook, Twitter, or Vimeo.

The properties that help organizations decide how to brand themselves are also factored into design choices. You wouldn’t want to walk into a hospital waiting room or exam room and be bombarded with red or black – that would either excited you or frighten you. Instead, healthcare facilities usually opt for blue and blue-green hues. 

As Jackie Jordan, director of color marketing for Sherwin-Williams said, “The color of nature, and leaves, and trees – those are always wonderful colors to have in a facility.” She went on to explain that, “Cool colors tend to be more calming, so things that are in the blues and the blue-greens, those types of colors really put people at ease because they do bring a sense of tranquility.”

This can be applied to interior design at home, too.  Choosing a shade of blue, or another muted, dusty color like a pale gray or light sage, might help you drift off to sleep a little bit easier or reduce your stress level in general.

Color and design also affect the way that students progress in school. One 2012 study showed that six design parameters – “color, choice, complexity, flexibility, connection, and light – had a significant effect on learning. Complexity and color both have to do with providing an ample amount of visual stimulation for students in the classroom.” Another study noted, “73% of the variation in pupil performance driven at the class level can be explained by the building environment factors.”

​Are there other feelings you’d like to promote in your space? Here are a few more color-feeling relationships you can explore. 

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