Colour my world…
What’s your colour?
It’s long been thought – by artists, fashion designers and interior designers in particular – that colours can affect our mood. Yellows are believed to be agitating, greens can be refreshing, and cold blues can be calming. Dining rooms decorated in warm reds and oranges are supposed to encourage conversation. While wearing an array of brightly coloured clothes can feel uplifting, even empowering, and can help to raise our spirits. What colours inspire you? Personally, for me, the brighter the colours, the better! As the lovely Petula Clark would sing, “You’ll never see a dark cloud hanging round me…”
So how did all of this start? Well, back in 1666, Sir Isaac Newton passed pure white light through a prism and found that the light separated into all the visible colours – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. More experiments showed that by combining different colours, we could create yet more colours – for example, blue and red mixed together made purple. As artists and interior designers know all too well, mixing colours to create new tones and hues can be a beautifully satisfying experience.
The psychology of colour
Yet, according to a recent article by Kendra Cherry in ‘Very Well Mind’, colour psychology isn’t a well-developed or well-understood area. Researchers Andrew Elliott and Markus Maier have been quoted as saying: “Little theoretical or empirical work has been conducted to date on colour’s influence on psychological functioning, and the work that has been done has been driven mostly by practical concerns, not scientific rigour.”
But despite the lack of scientific research in this area, colour seems to have a huge impact on our everyday lives and is clearly influential in the fields of art, fashion, design and marketing. We all know there’s nothing more uplifting than choosing a new colour scheme for a room and changing its ambience dramatically. Colour helps us to see things in a whole new way.
According to Kendra Cherry, “several ancient cultures, including the Egyptians and Chinese, practised chromotherapy, or the use of colours to heal.
Chromotherapy is sometimes referred to as light therapy or colourology.” And this therapy is still popular today as a holistic or alternative treatment. In this ancient practice:
• red is seen as stimulating to the mind and body and can increase circulation
• yellow is believed to purify the body and stimulate the nerves
• orange is supposed to be energising and may help to heal the lungs
• blue helps to alleviate pain and is thought to be deeply soothing
• indigo, apparently, is believed to help skin problems
But most psychologists are sceptical about colour therapy and believe the benefits of colour are anecdotal and exaggerated.
However, it’s clear that colour does seem to have an effect on us emotionally. We can see its influence in different cultures too. In China, red is a very lucky colour; whereas in the West, red is often seen as the colour of anger and danger. In the UK, death and mourning are symbolised by black; whereas in Eastern countries, white is the colour of mourning. It’s obvious that colours have meaningful associations for us.
Colour your world
According to Sally Augustin, writing in ‘Psychology Today’ a few years back, “our emotional response to [colours], has to do with colours’ saturation and brightness.” Saturation refers to how pure a colour is. Brightness, of course, is how light a colour is. Apparently, “Colours that are less saturated but bright, such as a bright sage green, are relaxing, and those that are more saturated and less bright, such as sapphire blues, are more energising to look at.”
Sally Augustin advises us to use colour in our homes because dull, beige tones can be under-stimulating and therefore actually quite stressful. She advises us to “colour our world” and I couldn’t agree with her more!
Personally, I think colours can affect us due to their personal associations. We all have favourite colours that we’re drawn to. I find mauve and lilac to be deeply soothing, while I find bright pinks exciting and animating. Sometimes I like to challenge myself with unusual colour schemes…and I use my hair colour to express my love of colour. Most people wouldn’t consider combining reds and purples, but these colours remind me of fuchsias and I love them.
I think whatever colours appeal to you and give you happiness are the ones you should choose right now. After all, 2020 has been a challenging year, and 2021 continues to be challenging, so why not “colour your world” with some of our beautiful Baa Stool cushions, stools and rugs? At Baa Stool, we believe wholeheartedly in the power of colour to raise your spirits and bring cheer – as you can see from the vast kaleidoscope of colours we have on offer.