color in everyday life 

henry ford, the american automobile manufacturer

henry ford, the american automobile manufacturer was a great friend of rationalization measures, also relating to cars.

he offered his customers : "you can have any color you desire, but the color must be black". this anecdote shows quite well how little attention was paid to aesthetical issues from people who worked in industrial production. much more important were financial profit and work efficiency while colors and design, on the other hand, were regarded as irrelevant. the result was humdrum monotony. an ugly standard grey not only affects the human soul in an depressing way but it also increases the risk of accidents to happen.

colors in nature

in nature colors are a vital means of communication. if the eye of human beings does not have any colored sign it becomes confused and disorientated. nowadys people try to solve this problem by using signal colors and conspicuous signs. therefore we are now living in a real jungle of excalamation marks. it becomes more and more important to be able to distinguish and to recognize the right signals. in our highly technological society colors are making informations available in diverse sorts.

there are numerous examples: traffic lights, mailboxes, cable wrappings, warning signs, prohibition signs, uniforms, equipment painting etc... . color markings play an important role in industry in the course of occupational safety and the ergonomic workplace design.

the color is subject to european standards:

for example

  • red stands for warning signs and fire extinguishers,
  • yellow or yellow with black stands for dangerous zones,
  • orange stands for transportation,
  • blue stands for mandatory-signs and
  • green stands for emergency exits and first aid.

a series of tests which font is easy or difficult to read

previously, different colors had been tested for their specific signaling function. color psychological investigations have revealed that certain colored fonts are easier to read than others.

for example :

  • a black text on a yellow background suits best for short messages.
  • on second place is the combination between dark green and a white background.
  • and finally traffic is recognized internationally and regulated with the colors green, yellow and red.
  • nowadays four or five basic colors are used in vital areas to show information in a fast or immediate way. but it can happen that the application areas are overlapping themselves nevertheless the special message of colors also called the color code remains identical and the same.
  • the color green is associated with nature, with something positive and with the affirmation of rescue.
  • the predominant color in operating rooms is green. green has removed the clinical white although white gives confidence and the impression of cleanliness. however, white makes too strong contrasts due to the bright lights of the operating lamps. green, however, has not only a calming down effect for the patient but it also meets the needs of the surgeons and surgical nurses who have reacted with dizziness, headaches and eye fibrillation through the white reflection.
  • there is another rule with regard for patients: it must absolutely be avoided to equip doctor´s offices or dental offices in red. the association which appears by seeing red is either blood or danger and this can make a patient deeply frightened.

the intuitive reaction to colors

can colors affect the consciousness? in most cases, the color choice for company signs, clothing, equipment or products is not taken after an intense preoccupation with the findings through the psychology of colors. it is rather the case that we intuitively respond to colors, which is partly genetically determined. colors are more or less spontaneously selected in an symbolical way and combined.

thus you can compare it with the fact that human beings had known how to prepare tasty and nutritious meals for thousands of years without understanding that much about the psychology of nutrition.

the magic of colors has been programmed in our subconsciouses. especially in the commercial or medical field it is not enough to rely on someone´s instincts. for these cases the psychological effect of colors has been experimentically investigated and also their applicabilities have been scientifically analysed.

for example

  • blue in all its shades is connected to the banking sector and major corporations because this color seems to be sober, conservative and discreet. most employees who are employed in the banking sector are prefering a dark blue or grey clothing and this emphasizes the impression of tradition and reliability.
  • designers are thinking in a similar way : exclusive products are presented in a sorber way or they are presented in dampen colors for example cd-players or elegant furniture are presented in this way.
  • conversely, we are now connecting colorful goods and joyful clothes quickly with cheap products made in hong kong. although it is actually enshrined in our genetic information.
  • in ancient cultures, as well as in nature power, health and richness is always expressed with vivid colors.

the french revolution

only the french revolution of 1789 brought a turning point in the evaluation of the symbol content of paints, by perishing the power of colorfulness, of the velvet and silk-dressed nobility and colorful clothing was frowned.

colors in advertising

even the advertising sector turns black to white, and suggests to us that the traditional mourning color and camouflage are now promising wealth, power and fertility. however you can not mislead the nature and human beings for a long duration.

since the 80s again correct usage of colors

since the eighties, you can observe a renewed attention to the biologically correct handling of colors. this applies especially to sports and leisure fashion.

in sports, optimal physical performance is most important and sports medicine researches have shown that for example, runners are faster when they are wearing colorful clothes. bright and vibrant colors are stimulating the body and the soul. they are activating a better efficiency. boxing gloves are nearly always red!

looking back in history: the people have worn wild colors and bizarre knight`s armors in medieval battle games.

in addition to this, people nowadays do not wear brown or beige colors in sports and the leisure sector.
this has also affected the rest of fashion. there are even special color consultants who help customers to combine individual color combinations.

one of the most popular methods assumes that each season is characterized by certain colors, which in turn are mirroring certain personality types.
the change of fashion colors is dominating the whole industry. this is a significant economic factor.

millions of people are responding to international fashion trends and orient their purchasing behavior, consciously or unconsciously. from experience we know that a fashion trend generally has a duration of ten years. after this time, new colors and patterns will be introduced.

the same applies to architecture and industrial designs. color is an extremely influential medium, which is also known in the advertising sector, graphic sector and industrial decoration sector.

it has especially been noted in marketing and in the packaging industry that consumers are reacting very sensitive to their favorite colors. even a minimally different shade could cause that the customer loses his interest.

nutrition must have the correct color. most of us have a certain color imagination while they are purchasing certain food. we have been characterized genetically for millions of years to distinguish between edible and poisonous nutrition. thus the primitive human being learned that almost everything in nature,

  1. which tastes well displays a yellow, red or brown color for example smoked fish, ripe bananas, juicy pieces of meat or corn, apricots and cherries.
  2. some vegetables are consisting a green color like salads and apples.
  3. never, however, our forefathers came up with the idea to eat blue and white things.
  4. if we are taking the often terrible offerings of fast-food chains into consideration they are nevertheless advertising it with their attracting yellow - red company sign. presumably this chrominance is part of their enormous success.
    this means also that the food industry is very dependent on correct packaging and presentation of their products. healthy-looking food is directly linked to our survival instincts and drags us on. when things are looking strange you could reject them because of the ancient and very wise distinction.
    people have made interesting experiments in this field . well-prepared and delicious food for example was prepared with totally crazy food colors and additionally treated with colored light spots. the tested people became sick and they had to throw out if they anyway could eat anything. food manufacturers are taking these results into consideration when they are preparing products with colors to give them a tempting look. the procedure is described as food cosmetics. on the other hand the problem is that many of the artificial dyes are possessing flavors which could be even toxic. however the consumers have therefore begun to defend themselves in many countries, so that these food dyes have been already banned.
    in general there is nowhere more dyes used as in sweets, juices and soft drinks this are products which are often looking pale and therefore they are "upgraded" by an ample grant of color. we can extend the list yet: preserves, jams, liqueurs, margarine and butter sometimes contain any dye suspicious cigarette tobacco and walnuts are often chemically bleached, because so they are maintaining better quality by paling colors out. in chicken farms and among the fish farming the animals are feeded with pigment-rich animal feed, so that the yolks becomes much more darker or that the fish fillet becomes pink.
    in general, food can not be packed in any color. the paper pieces for butter are usually yellow or white. sweets are preferably in so-called candy colors or pastel colors. you will hardly never see gras green cigarette packets or dark brown detergent cartons.
  5. in particular blue is the color of hygiene products, but the color should not be too dark.
  6. if you want convey a fresh impression of health and coolness a bright turquoise color is the best.
  7. with sand and terracotta colors you can simulate heat and drought.
  8. equipment colors shall be functionally.

colors are creating a certain atmosphere and speak to our emotions. in public buildings and in professional life, this effect of color is set to control.colors can even be legally required in order to protect people or to inform them in the most appropriate way. nevertheless if you set up your own home, you should take the influence of colors on body and psyche into consideration.

long-term, certain shadesmay have an effect on the emotion and the wellbeing of people and could gererate pain among sensitive people. nervousness, fatigue, eyestrain or headaches, are examples of symptoms, which are caused due to the wrong use of colors.

nowadays homes are divided into functions. each room serves a specific purpose.

  • there are living and sleeping,
  • working and dining rooms or
  • children's and guest rooms,
  • kitchen and bathroom.

we have expectations and needs with each of these areas. now it is important that we design each room that their colors correspond to the respective destination. that means we should

  • equip our kitchen by using the colors which we assiciate with food and flavor. you also should
  • equip the bedroom with colors which have a relaxing effect.
  • in the work room, we need colors that promote concentration.
  • and in a gym you should use the colors which are stimulating the muscles.

practical advice, see the chapter "psychology of colours in everyday life."

the same principles are applicable also to the color of offices and factories, schools and hospitals, shops, cinemas and restaurants.

negative effects of colors in ceratin rooms :

- it is hardly to find bright red reading rooms in academic libraries or an ice-coated separée in a cozy traditional restaurant,

positive effects of colors in certain rooms :

+ but a dark-red hold theater lobby or a turquoise-painted indoor swimming pool.

which color is the best for which room?

rooms without sunlight can usually well tolerate a yellowish hue.

in laboratories, where precision is the most important and due to this you should exclude distractions, you should rather use a greyish-white hue for your equipment.

practical experiences with colors :

many of these rules are born of practical experience and cultural habits.

the example theatres:

especially in the world of theater people know how colours effect the sense deliberately because we intend to fascinate the audience with all means and captivate their attention. therefore colorful stage sets, props and costumes are used for dramatic arts. the actors are also effective shadowed. a clever makeup artist changes a face perfectly with a few cosmetic changes of colors. to select the desired illusion you need the right lighting. it is an important part of the performing arts. an illuminator additionally modeled the scene and can only by the switching " on and off "of different lights and is able to produce a variety of moods.

also here are some basic rules which are valid for the psychology of colors.

  • warm and bright colors are chosen to a comedy to give a case of fun.
  • for the case a tragedy or a drama cold or dark colors are emphasizing the seriousness of the piece.

which effect have green and orange on the face?

but try it on your own:

a warm orange leaves your face to appear in the most favorable light . nothing seems to be so repulsive and sickly like a face plunged in a green light.

colors on tv and for films:

all of this also applies to film and television where also atmospheric effects are produced with colors. everybody knows that colored films are much more exciting than black and white stripes. moving photographs are part of our everyday life. we are overwhelmed and surrounded by a flood of stimulating impressions whose deeper effects we do not perceive as always clear.

the modern research has proved how much people react on the various color environments and how they are affected in their well-being.

therapy of color of karl ryberg mosaik verlag 1992 page 37-46