The language of Colour- Steph

1 10 2008

“Colours speak all languages” – Joseph Addison
One of the comments that Vaike made when she began the lecture on colour was that in ancient times colour was language. I found this an interesting comment as it is true that we associate certain colours with certain emotions and feelings, as I’m sure everyone found with the exercise. Colour can be used to express emotion where words might fail as the feelings evoked through certain colours are universal. This is very important in designing as the colour you choose to make your design, whether it is the walls of a building or a chair, can influence the people who will interact with it.

When designing buildings, the designer must use colour wisely. They must choose colours that will benefit the people around the building. When choosing a colour for the interior of a work space, the designer should choose a colour that would be both calming and stimulating. Many office spaces are white because this colour is supposed to inspire creativity. Unfortunately, as we all know with white classrooms, it is also very boring and often makes us tired. Bringing natural colours into interior spaces, such as greens, yellows and browns, would also be beneficial as they remind people of the outdoors and help to refresh them. I found this chart at, which explains the properties and meanings of certain colours.




Too much of


energy, vitality, power, vital, passionate, courageous, aggressive, impulsive

Known to escalate the body’s metabolism with vibrance and passion, overcome depression

Increases anxiety, agitation, stress



Has a gentle warming effect, increases immunity, potency

Increases anxiety


intellect, cheering, warm, caution, innovative

Helps mental stimulation, Clears a foggy head

Causes exhaustion, too much mental activity


balance inexperienced, wealthy, jealous, moderate, balanced, traditional

Good for tired nerves, will balance emotions, refreshes the spirit, encourages us to feel compassion

Creates negative energy


truth, serenity, harmony, loyal, sincere, responsible

Soothes the mind

Depressing and sorrowful



Allows a clearer path for the conscious to the spiritual self




Good for mental and nervous problems

Negative thoughts



Helps with spiritual healing

Tired and disoriented


purity, innocent, optimistic

Purify mind on the highest levels


peace, persitence

Removes diseases



Strengthens the body and spirit

Too strong for many people


silence, elegant, powerful

Silence and peace

Aloof, intimidating



Inspires creativity and symbolises success

The value and intensity of each colour are also significant when designing as they also play a part in the emotions felt.

I also found this chart at which I found interesting. It explains the effects of each colour and where it should be used within your home. 


Effects of Violet as a colour

-Calming for body and mind. – Good for meditation and prayer.
-Enhances purpose and dignity.
-Heightens our awareness and helps us to give of our very best.

Suggested Areas of Use for the colour Violet

-Places of worship
-Entry areas to clinics and hospitals
-Festival areas
-Pale violet in bedrooms.



-Helps to open up our intuition
-The colour of divine knowledge and the higher mind.

Suggested Areas of Use

-Not suitable for areas for entertainment but for more ‘quiet’ places
-Treatment rooms
-Some people find indigo is helpful for studying so this colour could be used as part of the decor of a library or study.


-Calming, relaxing and healing
-Not as sedating as indigo. Also the colour of communication.

Suggested Areas of Use

-Any rooms except those used for physical activity or play.



-Balancing, harmonising and encourages tolerance and understanding.

Suggested Areas of Use

-Depending upon the shade, can be used for most areas
-Use with other colours/colour as well to avoid the balance and harmony becoming more like total inactivity and indecision.



-Stimulates mental activity
-Promotes feeling of confidence
-Helpful for study as it helps us to stay alert.

Suggested Areas of Use

-Activity rooms
-Entrance halls
-Not for bedrooms as yellow can interfere with sleep since it tends to keep our minds “switched on”
-Not ideal for areas of possible stress.



-Warming and energizing
-Can stimulate creativity
-Orange is the colour of fun and sociability.

Suggested Areas of Use
-Any activity area and creative areas
-Not ideal for bedrooms or areas of possible stress.



-Energizing, exciting the emotions
-Stimulates appetite.

Suggested Areas of Use

-Any activity area but red needs careful choice of tone and depth and the space in which it is to be used as it can make a space look smaller and can be claustrophobic or oppressive. However, used well, red and its variations can make a space feel warm and cosy. Often used in restaurants.



-Magenta is the eighth colour in the colour spectrum and is a combination of red and violet, thus it combines our earthly self and spiritual self, thus balancing spirit and matter.
-It is uplifting and helps us to gain a feeling of completeness and fulfillment.

Suggested Areas of Use
-Lecture spaces
-Chapels halls etc
-Not ideal for play rooms or activity rooms



-Cool and calming and good for the nervous system and immune system.

Suggested Areas of Use

-Any room except it is not ideal for activity areas.



-This colour soothes and nurtures
-It helps to dissolve anger and encourages unconditional love.

Suggested Areas of Use

-Ideal for a baby’s or child’s bedroom.



-Black used with another colour enhances the energy of that second colour
-Black gives us the space for reflection and inner searching.

Suggested Areas of Use

-Not ideal as a single colour, but when used with care,can enhance and complement other colours in almost any situation.



-White contains all the colours. It emphasizes purity and illuminates our thoughts, giving us clarity.

Suggested Areas of Use

-Any room, but it can be a little intimidating to some. Needs to be broken up with another colour or with plants/ornaments/pictures etc.

– Steph M.




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