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The world of colours – How colours affect our inner and outer world

Written by Julietta Torbus

Analysing the characteristics of different interior styles, we can see a certain regularity. As people move from north to south, their appetite for colour increases.

Just compare the simple, austere white, beige and grey Scandinavian style with a sparkling energy, full of strong colours and expressive patterns in the Mexican style. What are the conditions?

The outside world

The amount of light coming in is very important. In northern countries, cloudy days prevail over sunny days. Grey sky, buro-greenish forest wall, black and brown shade of sea water are Scandinavian reality. Subdued colours used in rooms are therefore in harmony with the surrounding outside world. At the other extreme of this puzzle is the colourful world of North Africa and Mexico. The red colour of the earth, the orange-yellow of the desert, the luscious green of the vegetation and the eternal blue of the sky, looking through the turquoise sea waters. There are no strong forces for such a dictum of nature. All these colours force people to invite them home.

The inner world

Psychologists have no doubt that colours shape our lives and make our perception of the surrounding world easier. Some researchers claim that our favourite colours were coded at the age of about two. In adulthood, these choices determine our needs, desires, vitality and sense of security.

Colours can stimulate collective imagination, be a connecting factor for people, as exemplified by national colours. Just remember what football fans look like at international matches. A way to identify with a particular environment is to use company or party colours. Claude Monet used to say that the world of colours is his daily obsession, his joy – and also his torment. Research shows that individual colours evoke certain emotional states in us.

Red – anger, but also excitement, happiness and love.
Yellow – happiness, excitement, energy.
Green – calm, happiness, comfort
Blue – calm, happiness.
Violet – calm, happiness, but also sadness.
White – innocence, peace, but also emptiness.
Grey – sadness or depression, feeling of boredom.
Black – sadness, fear.

The world of tradition and religion

The meanings of colour in different cultures and traditions have been shaped over the centuries. For example, let us look at blue. For the ancient Egyptians it was closely related to heaven and divinity, while for the Romans it meant mourning. The blue clothes were worn by slaves and labourers, while the rich class wore red, white and black. In Greek theatre, purple interspersed with gold was the royal colour, red symbolised heroism, brown or black – poverty. Pre-Columbian Maya colours marked the sides of the world: east – red, west – black, north – white, south – yellow. In Islam, green was considered the most important colour. In the Koran, this colour describes paradise. Green was also the favourite colour of Prophet Muhammad.

Also the contemporary symbolism of colours varies from part of the world. In European culture black is associated with mourning, sadness, evil or death, while in China it is a sign of joy and happiness, in India of life and in Japan of adulthood and nobility. For the tradition of the East, white is a symbol of mourning, and for us it is the colour of divinity, innocence and purity. Red in Western culture, on the other hand, is associated with desire and love or aggression and strength, while for the people of South Africa it is the colour of mourning.

The knowledge about the reactions of the recipients to particular colours and cultural codes related to their perception is used in the world of advertising and marketing to shape and meet the needs of customers in many areas, including the market segment related to interior design and decoration.

 

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

About the author

Julietta Torbus

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