A pursuit of colour

Colours are an embodiment of the visible light waves with different wavelengths; what we see is merely our interpretation. Studying colour along with our everyday experiences is both art and science. Colour models proposed by scientists, artist and philosophers help comprehend how these colours work. These model study the various component of colour which is Hue, Saturation, and Brightness. Each of these plays a specific role to make up the colour.

  • Hue- The True colour of something
  • Saturation- How pure the colours are in comparison to how grey it is.
  • Brightness- What is the proportion of black and white in the colour's proportions.

The Colour wheel is the elementary tool for considering the relationships between colour. The linear spectrum from refracted light through a prism; is joined to create a circle- the colour wheel. The wheel helps correlate and visualise the harmonies between colours to create a particular experience.

Neutral colours have shown prominence through decorative schemes. Black, white and greys are neutral in actuality. But in design, it has expanded its meaning to desaturated, less bright colours. Most of the time, It is to create an earthy feeling. Colours affect what and how we feel is supported by research, but this does not manifest itself to the same extent in everyday situations. The cultural and personal experiences of a person also affect the way they react to it. Colour is a part of the context as a whole; the designer uses it appropriately, keeping in mind the symbolic nature of colour.

Colour Schemes

Visual concepts are dictates by a colour scheme; the first step to creating an experience is to start with a mood board which includes trying out different colour schemes. The chosen colour scheme shapes and usually dominates the project look and feel. It provides a clear understanding of what to expect in the end product.  

The most basic type of colour scheme is about how it fits together on the colour wheel. There is always room for flexibility; there are variables that do not follow a set norm. Variations are desirable. The key to colour schemes is balance; this guides the judgement for the project.

Colour Perception

Our perception of colour is subjective and dynamic, influenced by various factors; it is not absolute. Some of the reasons for the shifting nature of colours are as follows.

  • Light- The source emits light that is not just white; it has a mix of wavelengths. All artificial light sources have their own characteristic. Daylight has a dynamic quality depending on the geographical location and orientation.
  • Material Surface- They can reflect light in a diffused manner or a specular manner.
  • The presence of other colours changes the subtly of a particular colour hue.

These and other changes are accountable for making it impossible to remember the colours accurately. Thus, collecting actual reference samples is essential to acquire the desired colour. Without a reference, discussing colours is doom. The colour green would be different for the client from the one the designer has in mind; having a reference point avoids mistakes, ensures clarity.

The effects of colour on space

Colour has the power to change the dimensions of a space. Each colour creates a perception which either makes the room feel smaller or larger. Warm colours (reds, yellows, oranges) and darker tones tend to advance, while cool colours (blues, greens) and lighter tones tend to retreat. These effects enhance or hide existing features of a space.

Some of the ways the designer can play with colours are-

  • Long spaces can often give an impression of a corridor; the shorter walls should have advancing colours to avoid the issue. Advancing colours are more dominant within an interior and appear as though they are coming towards you.
  • Spaces with a low height can use receding colours and interiors with a tall height use advancing colours.
  • Create a harmony of similar colours that helps unify multiple spaces.
  • Receding colours with low contrast create a feeling of spaciousness.
  • Strong colour contrasts make the space feel less spacious.

For Instance, in a large bedroom in a country house hotel, the dark walls help to hold the different elements required in the room together. The colour advances somewhat to give a comfortable feeling of enclosure.

A rich bathroom scheme utilises natural finishes and a substantially neutral colour scheme (greys, browns, blacks and whites). One Strong colour acts as an accent that lifts the colour palette, adding a dynamic quality to the interiors.

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