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Independent Study: The Psychology of Color in an Interior Space


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Independent Study: The Psychology of Color in an Interior Space

  1. 1. Index Introduction What is Color? Design Goals Vision + Light The Visible Spectrum The Optical System Effects on Color Psychophysiological Effects Neuropsychological Aspect Environmental Influences Emotional Reaction Survey Results Color Fundamentals Color Systems Color Vocabulary Color Harmony Influences Josef Albers Faber Birren Karim Rashid Case Studies Concept + Programming Sections + Elevations Diagrams Application Exploration of Color VT Chicago Arts Center
  2. 2. Introduction
  3. 3. What is Color? Color is a visual experience that subconsciously affects individual’s functions and emotions. The human response to color is based upon one’s perception of behavioral aspects that are controlled by the brain. The study of color is a complex subject composed of various theories. Many experiments have been conducted to prove that color is indeed an influential factor composed of both subjective and objective aspects. Color affects individuals differently based upon their gender, age, culture and other biological factors that are explored throughout this exploration. Throughout history, ancient scholars used color to solve mysteries among their time. Sometimes portrayed as symbolic or magical, color has been used in healing practices dating as far back to the Egyptian period (Mahnke, p.30). However, interest in color decreased throughout the Middle Ages with the advancement of scientific knowledge. It was not until the late 19th century that color would begin to be practiced in healing again. By considering color in design, it allows designers to create a mood within a space that tells a story and leaves an emotional impact on each individual. Educational Centre by Alejandro Muñoz Miranda
  4. 4. Design Goals From this color study I hope to gain a better understanding of the psychological effects of color in an interior space and incorporate the findings into my designs by: 1. Bringing awareness to the psychophysiological effects of color within a space 2. Applying color in a way that contradictions the standard functional context 3. Integrating the surrounding elements of the geographical location into the space to reflect the color scheme 4. Creaing an unique experience that changes overall mood of the space 5. Provoking a psychological sensation through the use of different hues Color Theory exercise (2011)
  5. 5. Vision + Light
  6. 6. The Visible Spectrum Light is Color The physical difference between radio waves, infrared, visible light, Ultraviolet, and X-rays is wavelength The Visible Light Spectrum is the electromagnetic rays we can see such as violet, blue, green, red and yellow. A spectral color is the light of a specific wavelength and hue is the color perception. White light can be made by mixing colors but not black Shortest range= purple and blues Longest range= red Sources for visible light rays included Natural and Artificial (Fluorescent, Incandescent, Gas charge, and LEDs (colorcodedarch)
  7. 7. The Optical System The eye and light are in direct relation with one other. Since color only exsist in the brain, it is the eyes job to receive the reflected light waves and transmit the wavelengths to the cerebral cortex. Color comes from light: 1. Source (Sun) “invisible” colors shine onto the apple 2. Object (Apple) the surface of the apple absorbs the light rays, except red which is reflected into the eye 3. Detector (Eye and Brain) the eye receives and then sends message to the brain (Mahnke, p.94-95)
  8. 8. The Effects on Color Light intensity, surface reflection and surrounding objects play a factor in how color is perceived. The interior space effects the perception of color directly through artificial lighting. “The color rending index (CRI) was developed to describe how well colors are rendered by artificial light sources compared with natural light” (p.98). Color is perceived based upon the context of the space and should be considered when developing a color scheme. (Mahnke, p.95, 97-99)
  9. 9. Psychophysiological Effects
  10. 10. Psychological Physical events that affect the conscious, subconscious, and unconscious Physiological Lightwave frequencies that “describe the effects stimuli have upon us” (Mahnke, p.7)
  11. 11. Neuropsychological Aspect Each part of the brain creates a “temporary arousal reaction” that effects the emotional state. Cerebral Cortex “Receives and interprets” sense Cerebrum Thinking takes place (right- creative, left-logic) Thalamus Associated with the senses (sight, hearing, taste, and touch) Hypothalamus Emotion and physical response Pituitary Gland Influences the glands Extreme unity and complexity can cause visual displeasure. An individual needs relief that comes from a variety and contrast of light, temperature, intensity and dominance of color Cerebellum Extreme unity: under stimulation that causes restlessness, irritation and difficulty in concentration Reticular Formation Extreme complexity: overstimulation that effects breathing, pulse rate, blood pressure and muscle tension contrast of light, temperature, intensity and dominance of color Affects balance and movement Effects entire nervous system (visual -external and mental activity) (Mahnke, p. 20-22)
  12. 12. Chromotherapy the healing of color “Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions.” - Pablo Picasso Light is used in the form of color to balance energy. The Colors of the Chakras ... Divided into the seven main “energies” of the body Each engery stems from a major nerve ganglia, all connecting at the spinal column (threeheartscompany)
  13. 13. Environmental Influences Numerous environmental factors influence the perception of color that creates a memorable experience. 1. Biological Reactions to a Color Stimulus: “Psychological component” from the natural effects of nature The “Color Experience Pyramid” 2. Collective Unconscious: Personal experience pertaining to color 3. Conscious Symbolism: “Learned responses” that are symbolic to the surrounding environment 4. Cultural Influences and Mannerism: Particular colors are that are related to a country or location 5. Influence of Trends, Fashion, Styles: Temporary colors that reflect a time period 6. Personal Relationship: Individual likes and dislikes (Mahnke, p.11)
  14. 14. Red “The most physical color in the spectrum.” Associated with the heart and blood, the color red has been proven to raise the heart rate and energy level. In interiors, red is used to make a bold statement. It is often used in restaurants to increase appetite or in logos associated with food. In residential design, a red wall might create a warm cozy feeling that makes you want to sit around the Survey Association Fire, passion, power, love, energy, angry, sexy, lust, blood (Eiseman, p.7; Amara)
  15. 15. Orange The color orange is known to encourage activy and stimulate conversation. Subjectively, the vibrant color is either greatly liked or disliked. Around 500 B.C., the fruit inspired the name of the color and the Orange was known as the fruit of the gods and kings. Often associated with the term “rebirth,” it gained popularity in Renaissance paintings and was an iconic color in the 90s fashion trend. Survey Association Excitement, tropical, noticeable, vibrant, caution + safety, Hokies, fun, hunting (Eiseman, p. 13)
  16. 16. Yellow Besides being directly related to the sun, the color yellow is the easiest color for the human eye to see. Different shades of yellow convey different messages. A light yellow might bring warmth and softness to your home, where as a bright yellow might raise the emotional temperature and increase liveliness and encourage innovation. Survey Association happiness, light, sun, playfulness (Eiseman, p. 23)
  17. 17. Green The color of nature, green is the most seen color in the world. Therefore, green can provoke a multitude of moods from environmental awareness to fertility and growth. In interiors, green is often placed in environments that are ment to soothe and encourage mental relaxation. Survey Association nature, money, growth, prosperity, environment, luck (Eiseman, p. 37; Amara)
  18. 18. Blue The color of the water and sky, blue is the color of serenity and calmness. It is the top favorite color in the world. Blue is also associated with many religious practices meaning mercy and honor. Since blue is a symbol of rest, it is often found in health care design and in residential, especially in bedrooms. Survey Association Ocean + water, calming, soothing, clear, tranquility, sky, serenity, cold, relaxing (Eiseman, p. 31; Amara)
  19. 19. Violet The color purple is a combination of blue in red, and in effect its emotional impact is a balance of the two. Certain shades uplift, where others calm. It encourages creativity and is symbolic to royality. Survey Association Flowers + horticulture, power, luxury, royality, deception, pride A few people referred to the Willy Wonka reference “You’re turning violet, violet.” (Eiseman, p. 43) A colourful life: 2014 Pantone colour of the year “Radiant orchid”
  20. 20. Neutrals White, Black and Grey As the white flag indicates a truce, the color white also is a symbol of peace. It is the “presence of light” and the best way to represent cleanliness. Snow and clouds are both have soft properties, which reflect the emotional effects of clarity and purification. Black is a combination of color that creates depth within spaces. It provokes strong emotions of power and authority, but leave you with a feeling of emptiness. Survey Association Black: Sadness, depression, sleek, serious, dark, negative, somber, mourning, emo, sexy, void, emo White: pure, marriage, light, clean, angels, peaceful, innocence, good, weddings (Eiseman, p. 55, 61)
  21. 21. Survey Results Color connotations and associations differ among men to women, children to adults, as well as professions and cultures. Through a survey that consisted of 45 people from the ages of 18-60 of all occupations and courses of study, here are my findings: What is the first thing you notice in an interior space? Form (Shape + Size) Light Color Decoration Furniture 32% 20% 11% 25% 11% Although color was not the first thing people noticed, it impacts the overall form, and is found in light, decoration and furniture. Favorite Color Blue Red Pink Yellow Purple Green Lease Favorite Color 36% 7% 16% 7% 18% 18% Pink Yellow Orange Purple Brown Black Green 13% 13% 20% 13% 22% 9% 9% Are there any colors or color combinations that are significant to you or your culture? 22% Maroon + Orange (School) 18% Red + White + Blue (U.S. Flag) Note: Results with individual colors associations are found on the Meaning of Colors
  22. 22. Considerations + Challenges Art Subjectivity Anthropology Objectivity Design Conventionally Marketing Materiality Color interaction and contrast Cultural and historical color symbolism Color Planning narratives Color and arousal, branding and product differentiation Physics Color and light properties and measurements Color likes and dislikes Prescriptive color solutions Traditional schemes and harmonies Natural coloration of materials Dimensionality Visualization and applications Psychology Color Sensation, perception, and response (Portillo, p. 2-3)
  23. 23. Color Fundamentals
  24. 24. 1. The Color Wheel Sir Issac Newton created the 1st color diagram in 1666. Since then various color wheels have been created, causing debates. 2. Color Harmony Visual pleasure to the eye ex. Color Scheme based on Analogous Colors (right) or complementary colors 3. Color Context The relational impact that shapes and colors have on each other. (Color Matters)
  25. 25. Color Systems The scientific study of color is a system that is divided into additive and subtractive color. Each part of the system is equally important, but the subtractive color system is the method used by artists that impacts the senses in the brain (Color Matters). Subtractive Color Additive Color Subtractive color is wavelengths that are absorbed and reflected. When colors are added together they produce black. This system is used for printing, photography and painting. Additive color comes from a source to create light. When colors are added together they produce white. (rgbworld)
  26. 26. Color Vocabulary Hue purest wavelength and intensity Value lightness or darkness Tint hue + white Shade hue + black Tone hue + gray Chroma brilliance or dullness (B. Leshyn, Color Theory Powerpoint)
  27. 27. Color Harmony Monochromatic Analogous 1 Hue 2-3 Adjacent hues (icanbecreative) Ex. Blue + Green, Orange + Red Complementary Triad Polychromatic Opposite hues that contrast each other 3 Equidistant hues 3-4 different hues Ex. Red + Green, Purple + Yellow Ex. Green + Purple + Yellow Red + Yellow + Blue (B. Leshyn, Color Theory Powerpoint)
  28. 28. Influences
  29. 29. Josef Albers “Color is understood through experience” Known for his color context studies that explores the Interaction of color Studied at the Bauhaus as a painter, but joined the faculty as a stained glass instructor and later became a professor of the arts. As a professor he “linked architecture and painting” and belived that color is changing depending on the surrounding relation.
  30. 30. Faber Birren “The study of color is essentially a mental and psychological science, for the term color itself refers to sentation.” Father of applied color psychology (devoted his life to the study of color) Originator of OSHA colors Established the profession of color consultants (1936) Discovered the relationship of the fundamental attributes pertaining to hues: shade, tint, and tone.
  31. 31. Karim Rashid “I use extensive variations of colors to create form, depth, mood, feeling, texture, and to touch our everyday public memory. Color is not just surface and is not intangible- it is very real, very strong, a powerful tool and has a real physical presence.” Rashid is an industrial designer and interior architect known for his futuristic designs that pushes the exploration of color. 3,000+ designs in over 35 countries including fashion, furniture, lighting fixtures and product goods (
  32. 32. Case Studies
  33. 33. 1 Fallingwater Frank Lloyd Wright Integrated over a waterfall, this residence is famous for incorporating nature and architecture into a manmade structure with horizontal lines and cantilevers that create a sense of freedom through balance “Fallingwater was meant to evolve and change over time, reflecting those who occupied the retreat” (p.12) Planning + Programming Designed around the fireplace - gathering place Open living room that surrounds natural elements Narrow hallways to create the sense of compression Low ceilings to direct eye outside (archdaily) Strategic Design Local natural sandstone 2 paint colors with a neutral “backdrop” Motifs Horizonal line- earth line Cantilevier- freedon and expansivess, Cascade- waterfall Semicircle- soft curve of transition and balance (Portillo, p. 11-18)
  34. 34. “Mastery of color can easily consume a lifetime of study. observation, experimenttion, reflection, study, research, and practice work together to develop expertise in color” - Frank L. Wright The client, Edgar Kaufmann Sr. and his family greatly contributed to the interior design Cherokee Red Used on the floor, brick, framework (window mullions), and furniture Inspired by the soil + Red was wrights favorite color Ocher Used through lighting and furniture Inspired by the Rhododendrons found on site Black Walnut Found on the woodwork to add contrast from furniture Note: Wall color remains the same but textiles have changed over the years
  35. 35. 2 Phoenix Children’s Hospital HKS Architects A renovated design to improve the spacial flexibiltiy of the plan inspired by an oasis that reflects the surrounding landspace. Planning + Programming Adjacent programming decreased travel distances Rooftop healing gardens provide an escape Sustainable practices maximize daylight to reduce heat gain Strategic Design Exterior impacts the interior with a colorful glow Natural light provided from visual access to the outside surroundings (patient rooms and public spaces) Way finding is incorported through color palettes, wall murals and sculptures Local materials were used to reduce off-gassing
  36. 36. functions patient care units lease space public/ administrative building services outpatient clinics diagnostic/ treatment circulation veritical circulation/ shafts auxiliary color
  37. 37. 3 Switch Restaurant and Lounge Karim Rashid A futuristic statement that “switches” the role of hospitality design by provoking thought and excitement within emotions Planning + Programming Long symmetrical rectangle Seating divided into dining, bar and lounge areas Flexible table to accommodate different number of parties Continuous and seamless walls that wrap around the space Strategic Design International iconic design Transitional from day to night that changes the mood No natural lighting Simple color scheme to reflect color changing walls Everything is curved Wall is “inspired by the Arabic letter ‘S’ turned on its side.” (Middle East interiors)
  38. 38. Your Rainbow Panorama Olafur Eliasson “A space without boundaries” Designed to create a dialogue between the existing architecture and the city of Aarhus in Denmark that challenges the individual to imagine limits beyond the interior boundaries Planning + Programming Circular walkway 450ft. L x 10ft. W Strategic Design Over looks the city of Denmark (admirers see different colors depending on where they are located in the city) Glass in all colors of the spectrum Lights embedded in the floor are lit up at night (Aros) 4
  39. 39. Application
  40. 40. How Color Impacts us as Designers Color creates a visual experience in an interior space 1. Gives direction and defines circulation ex. The Triennale Design Museum in Milano designed by Fabio Novembre (right) 2. Creates a mood and tells a story 3. Affects taste and smell Synaesthesia is how senses work together. Each sense has a pathway to the brain and run parallel to each other, however sometimes they cross over and evoke memories. 4. Creates a connection between the surrounding environment and interior space A color palette is affected by the geographical location, characteristics of potentional users, the programming, light sources, and overall form of the space
  41. 41. Exploration of Space Defining space by the reversal of containment lead to the exploration of color and light, which has been a common interest expressed throughout my designs.
  42. 42. Virginia Tech Chicago arts center A transitional multi-cultural art center that stages the movement for creativity
  43. 43. Design Goals 1. Incorporate the exterior landscape into the space that reflects Grant Park and the surrounding environment through the use of materials and natural lighting 2. Design a dynamic space that appeals to Chicago’s cosmopolitan diversity that affects the student and faculty’s individual mood throughout the space 3. Development a movement within the space through the progression of color which defines a hierarchical relationship and allows for wayfinding and branding 4. Provoke a surreal experience that contradicts the dreams and reality, which create an element of surprise and juxtaposition between mass and volume of the space 5. Promote sustainability that encourages environmental stewardship to advance the knowledge of future generations that employ the space
  44. 44. Pro · gres · sion a movement or development toward a destination or a more advanced state, esp. gradually or in stages Within design, there are many disciplines that have the ability to influence a culture. The progression of creativity has inspired a surreal movement that has influenced spatial relationships, color, furniture and fixtures. The Virginia Tech Chicago Arts Center is a transitional multi-cultural space that stages the movement of creativity. A collaboration of architecture, interior design, studio art and music push the traditional learning environment to create a program that inspires innovation. Students are challenged throughout the program to leave an individual legacy that encourages the advancement of knowledge to future generations that inhabit the space. Kimball Office offers a collection of traditional and modern pieces that together create a movement within space. From experimenting with concepts to the final stages of artwork or performances, students and faculty are equipped with furniture and fixtures that are not only functional, but also aesthetically pleasing. Progression of Public to Private
  45. 45. Floor Plan Floor Plan 1 Scale 1/32” = 1’0” 1 Entrance 2 Info Area 3 Performance 4 Gallery 5 Cafe + Lounge 6 Round Table 7 Material Library 8 Women’s Restroom 9 Men’s Restroom 10 Classroom 11 Faculty Office 12 Practice Rooms 13 Dressing Rooms 14 Recording Studio 15 Conference Room 16 Storage 17 Print Lab 18 Studio 19 Presentation Room Floor Plan 2 Scale 1/32” = 1’0” Circulation Diagram
  46. 46. Gallery Detail Inspired by the movement of the Chicago Metro System LED lighting system embedded in transparent glass panels used for displaying art work. Possible Kimball Traxx system arrangements:
  47. 47. Studio Perspective
  48. 48. Finish Plan Finish Schedule Symbol/ Texture Type P1 Manufacturer Product Paint Sherwin Williams Westhighland White Carpet Bentley IconicRio de Janeiro Wood Armstrong Kempa Natural Warm Colors Aggregate Concrete Carpet Flor Like MindedBurgandy Carpet Flor Made you lookTangerine Carpet Flor Line, PleaseCayenne Carpet Flor CambiumGeranium Note: P1 all walls to be painted unless otherwise noted
  49. 49. Furniture Plan C7 C7 T1 C8 T7 C9 C9 C9 C1 C7 C9 T6 T6 T6 T6 C10 C10 C10 C10 T5 C7 T5 C7 T5 T5 C6 T5 C7 C5 T5 C7 T5 T3 T3 C2 T5 T5 T5 T3 T5 C7 C2 T5 C2 C6 DN C8 T3 C11 T4 T3 C5 C8 T3 T3 T8 T3 C11 T9 C4 T9 T9 T9 T9 C5 T9 C11 T2 C3 C11 T2 T2 T2 C5 T8 C3 T2 C1 T1 T8 C11 T8 T8 C11
  50. 50. Finish Schedule Furniture Image Symbol Manufacturer Description Fabric/ Finish Kim Salmela Palette Rainbow Grade K Furniture Image Symbol Manufacturer Description Fabric/ Finish Kimball Independence Hillsborough C2 Kimball Adagiato Maharam Aria- Swerve T2 Adagiato Maharam Skyline by Kvadrat- 656 T3 C3 C4 C5 C6 C7 C8 C9 C10 C11 Kimball Kimball Bingo Armless Stool White Finish T1 T4 Kimball Acapella armless Maharam Overlay- Cerise Villa Rectangle Bench Maharam Air by Kvadrat T6 Occasional Table Brighton Maple Wood Finish Kimball Arpeggio Cordoba Cherry Wood Finish Kimball Arpeggio Cordoba Cherry Wood Finish Kimball Innsbruck Coco Sapele Wood Finish Scenario White Finish, Metal Frame Kimball Fluent Brighton Maple Wood Finish Kimball Conference Solution Kimball Priority0002 Brighton Maple Wood Finish, White Frame Kimball Definition Coco Sapele Wood Finish T5 Kimball Kimball Kimball C1 Kimball Kimball Poly Arpeggio Tangerine T7 T8 Maharam Disperse- Carnelian T9 Kimball Axos White Leather Kimball Bingo White Finish Kimball Itsa Maharam Alias- Semolina Brighton Maple Wood Finish
  51. 51. Reflected Ceiling Plan
  52. 52. Lighting Schedule Fixture Image Product Description Philips Rotaris TBS741 6” Recessed downlight Philips Corview Panel- smooth surface light 2x2 Standard open office Philips Arctone Surface mounted track light Bocci 28.1 Satellite Single Pendant - Pink Bocci 28.3 Random Pendant Chandelier Bocci 28.7 7 Pendant Chandelier-Clear Philips Natural Light Progression Symbol Manufacturer Ecomood Pendant No. 40341- White Suspended linear fixture
  53. 53. Conclusion “Color is the first thing you notice and the last thing you leave with.” (Portillo, p.1) When I first began this study, I was having difficulty understanding the difference between the subjective and objective effects of color. From this study, I have learned that the measurement of light is an objective matter, but once it is perceived into the brain there is a transformation to subjective qualities that provoke numerous theories. Since every individual’s brain is different, each person is blessed with a unique experiences. I think and see in color; it represents a collection of my artistic sense, interior and architectural environment, scientific factors of the human response and the actual colors themselves. As a designer, color has allowed me to express myself through my concepts from the strategic design all the way through the final presentation stages. By considering color in design, I can create a mood within a space and tell a story that leaves an emotional impact on each individual. Although the study of color is endless, I have gained a better understand of how color effects the psychological and physiological aspects within the human response that will allow me to inhance my designs.
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  55. 55. Mahnke, Frank. “Color in Architecture - More Than Just Decoration.” Archinect. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2013. < decoration>. Mahnke, Frank H. Color, Environment, and Human Response: An Interdisciplinary Understanding of Color and Its Use as a Beneficial Element in the Design of the Architectural Environment. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1996. Print. “Mobile Color Matters.” Color Matters Welcomes You to the World of Color: Symbolism, Design, Vision, Sci ence, Marketing and More! N.p., n.d. Web. 02 May 2013. “More Color Resources.” Sweet Home HS Graphic Design. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2013. <http://shhs•Color Theory>. “Nest Interior Design.” Nest Interior Design. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 May 2013. Pile, John F. Color in Interior Design. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1997. Print. Portillo, Margaret. Color Planning for Interiors: An Integrated Approach to Designed Spaces. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2009. Print. “Primary Contents.” Konica Minolta. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2013. < lours/colour_knowlege_seminar/c_knowlege_seminar002.html>. Psychology of Colors. Dir. Harsha Cuttari. YouTube. YouTube, 21 Oct. 2012. Web. 02 May 2013. Ruschak, Robert. “AD Classics: Fallingwater House / Frank Lloyd Wright.” ArchDaily. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2013. <>. “Understanding Color.” Understanding Color. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2013. < color>. “Your Rainbow Panorama - Olafur Eliasson.” Your Rainbow Panorama. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2013. <>.
  56. 56. Brittani Anderson Virginia Tech School of Architecture + Urban Studies Interior Design