Color Conveying Emotion…Legit, or Phooey?
I’m going to start this post with a little background on color theory…and then I would really like some feedback on this whole idea.
So color theory is a very old design concept dictating that certain colors convey certain emotions. I’ll outline them below:
Pink produces a sedative-like and soothing effect. (Which means I was right in this post when I mentioned that I thought it could reduce aggression!) Perhaps this is why my bedroom was painted pink as a child…how did that work out for you, mom?
Red commands attention; it’s sexual, dangerous, and exciting. It always makes you look twice. Which is probably why it’s so popular in advertising. Yep, we get it McDonalds. You’re very exciting.
Orange combines the energy of red with the happiness of yellow. It is a color which represents enthusiasm and creativity. I would also argue that it is a color which makes you crave orange sorbet. But maybe that’s just my sweet tooth talking.
The famous “happy” color…yellow produces a warming effect evoking sunny feelings (puns were intentional). Again, it’s not a coincidence that you see this color in advertising for literally everything under the sun (one more pun…sorry).
Greens of all shades are thought of as fresh and a reflection of nature. As such, it also carries a feeling of safety. I also contend that green can be used as another neutral in design as it is the most common color found in nature (where I live anyway), and we inherently find nature to be beautiful.
Light blue is airy and light, creating a soothing atmosphere. It’s not a coincidence that blue is so common in spas. Darker blues convey seriousness and intelligence, which is probably why you see them most commonly used in formal dining rooms and living rooms.
Purple is a meditative color, as it is the child of red and blue. Traditionally the color of royalty, purple is thought to be reflective and majestic, and therefore translates well to glamour and intrigue.
This was obviously a very brief overview, but there you have it…the bones which make up the skeleton of color theory.
So it’s a nice concept, right? It’s kind of cool to think that you can control emotion based on how you decorate your house.
But is it legit?
If you were to follow color theory to a T, it would greatly reduce your color choices per room. For instance, you probably wouldn’t want to use red in your bathroom at home (the photo above is a commercial application) because I feel like it would make you feel anxious throughout your morning routine…but maybe it would wake you up? Also, taking a cue from color theory, I wouldn’t want to put blue in my living room, because it would be too mellow and I like to entertain. But do you really think that it matters?
What colors have you designed with, and do you think they really do convey these emotions?