The joy of understanding colour


There is a saying “life is like a box of crayon”. Wherever we are, there are ranges of colours around us. Colour is an integral part of our life. It has always played a significant role in human’s evolutionary process. Colour is not just important in natural environment, but in man-made architectural environment as well. Colours are perceived. Our brains perceive an object or subject and then process and judge it to be a colour. Colour has significance in our life. According to psychologists, we take lots of decisions after being influenced by colours.

There is a chapter titled ‘Colour Psychology’ for the students studying psychology.
Let’s jump to the scientific theory that explains how we see different colours.
The sun light falls on any object in a state of wave. The light has seven colours- red, green, blue, yellow, orange, violet and sky blue. One of those seven colours reflected by any object more noticeably is seemed to be the colour of the object.

Different colours have different wave lengths. Red has the longest wave length while violet has the shortest one.

Apart from the seven colours, there are also some other colours that are the result of artificial lights affecting the original colours in the earth. Human mind, however, perceives every colour in different way. The same object may appear differently because of its colour variant and also it can create different effects on our mind.

A well designed object can become of no use just because of poorly chosen colour.
Therefore, the importance of colour in an architectural space is not relegated to decoration or design only. In design, selection of right colour and texture depending on materials is very important. If not, there is no possibility of the design to be useful.
Every designer has to select the right colour for his design. For instance, we have to use bright colour for study rooms. If we use grey or ash instead, it will absorb the lights that enters the room and therefore more artificial lights will be needed.
If a designer uses bright colour for a study room wall or uses any material that reflects lights and increases brightness of the room, it is easily assumed that the designer has made the best use of colour for the room.

In this article, we will discuss how our daily usable items is influenced by colour .It will help a designer chose the correct colour for his/her design.

Before starting the discussion, let’s read about the experiment of renowned psychologist Pavlov. Pavlov put a plate full of food in front of a dog. After seeing the food and smelling it the dog put its tongue out being tempted to the food. Pavlov then took the plate away and rang a bell. The dog didn’t react to the sound of bell.

The plate was brought again and the ring was rung at the same time. The dog again put out its tongue by the smell of the food. The plate was removed again and then only the bell was rung again. The dog reacted this time to the sound of the bell. This is how colour is linked to other elements of our surroundings. Let’s discuss about various colours now,


White is believed to be an inherently positive colour that is associated with purity, innocence, light, goodness, heaven, safety, understanding, cleanliness, faith, beginnings, spirituality, possibility, sincerity, protection, softness, and perfection in various societies across the world.

In movies, books and media, white is typically depicted as good and black as bad.
When a room is coloured in white, it seems clean, classy and fresh. A room with white walls appears to be bigger than rooms in other colours.It is told that white is the combination of seven colours. It bears every colour hidden in it.


Black, a colour without hue, is the result of complete absorption of light. It is typically associated with negativity and mystery. Black, however, is also symbol of power and authority in many societies. Black is overwhelming to young people as it evokes strong emotions. Being the darkest colour, black is used as a visually slimming colour for clothing and in interior design, as it can make a room appear to shrink in size


Red, the colour of blood and fire is associated with love, passion, desire, heat, longing, lust, sexuality, sensitivity, romance, joy, strength, leadership, courage, willpower, rage, anger, wrath, action, radiance and determination.

Red can create physical effects such as high blood pressure, enhanced libido, increased respiratory rates, enhanced metabolism, increased enthusiasm, higher levels of energy, and increased confidence, say many studies.

Fire trucks and fire engines are usually painted red as it is a highly visible colour that is able to draw attention quickly and make people take quick decisions.
Red’s association with courage, bravery and power makes it a colour often used in national flags, on shields, and in achievement patches.Red is also used in tie with suits in business meetings, and the red carpet for celebrities and VIPs.


Orange is mainly a blend of red and yellow. It is associated with joy, warmth, heat, sunshine, enthusiasm, creativity, determination, health, stimulation, happiness, fun, enjoyment, balance, success, encouragement, change, expression, and fascination.

It is said that orange colour is good for appetite. That is why we see a vast amount of orange colour in restaurants that increases the feeling of hunger and contentment.


Yellow is the colour of sunshine, hope and happiness. Yellow is known as a very powerful colour. It is a warm colour as well. It is a symbol of happiness and joy.

The colour yellow helps activate the memory, encourage communication, enhance vision, build confidence, and stimulate the nervous system, according to many studies.
The colour also helps increase appetite like orange. That is why it is vastly used in restaurants.

When used in combination with black, yellow can be read and seen from long distances. For that reason, school buses, taxi cabs, and traffic signs are painted in yellow and black. If it is used in a room then the room would gain more luminance. That is why yellow should be applied in the wall of study room.


Green is called colour of nature. It is a cool colour and symbol of peacefulness.
Being a relaxing colour, green has an enormous power of healing. The colour indicates unconditional love and it is also symbol of wealth. Green represents fertility, as well.
Green can help enhance vision, stability and endurance, say many studies.
Green is widely used in interior designing as an ideal background or backdrop because humans are very used to seeing it everywhere in nature.


Blue is a cool colour. It expresses a calm and stable condition. However, it is called as a colour of grief in many societies. There are uses of blue as a colour of knowledge. Also blue is the symbol of loyalty and determination.


Violet is seen at the top of a rainbow. It is a royal and spiritual colour.
The colour can be used to create a mysterious environment. It is a symbol of dignity and power.


Pink is the colour of universal love. It represents friendship, affection, harmony and inner peace. In many countries, it is the official colour for baby girls.

Colour has a huge impact on our emotions, perceptions, personality and our physical and mental wellbeing. With correct choice of colour we can get the best design.
If we understand the meaning and power of a colour, we can use that understanding to communicate with people of our surroundings.


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