White, it is said, is the color of clarity and simplicity. A pure
white is crisp, clean and may convey ideas like integrity and modernity.
Or, as ivory or cream, it may be less immaculate, but more friendly
and approachable. Yellow, the essence of light, suggests a lively mind.
Green is fresh, orange is optimistic and red, the most physical color
in the spectrum, is a signal to act or react; it is provocative, stirring
and assertive. At the same time, no color carries a single message.
Rather, its meaning alters with the context in which it is used. Equally,
our perception of a color changes as it approaches and sits next to
other colors, when red is used in combination with green and brown,
rather than black and white.
Integral to the design of any object, image or space, color is an element
of design that can change our perception of scale and weight, of light
and heat. The color itself, and its specific hue, saturation and brightness,
acts as a cue that triggers a physical and emotional response, altering
our experience of a room as restful or lively and our evaluation of an
object, including the level of taste and sophistication it represents.
Whether one punctuates a white-on-white room with a bit of bright
orange for emphasis or uses color and graphics to identify a brand—
color acts as a key detail that can distinguish a place or differentiate a
product from all others.
Thus, color functions as a message or a mark of identity. But beyond its
usefulness, color also has an aesthetic quality that is distinct from, if
not wholly independent of, its symbolic function. A fabric in a misty grey
or a luminous green may be seen simply as beautiful, deeply affecting
without our quite knowing why or how. The unexpected placement of
vivid color or vibrant color blocking may give us a moment of aesthetic
delight. The beauty of color is elusive, but it has an extraordinary power
to inspire, animate and transform. Through color we recognize beauty
not by tracing its lines, but noting its effects; its power to bring us to
attention, to elicit surprise or joy.