Colour me Curious

Ever wonder why fast-food restaurants use so much red in their logo and interior?

Well, that’s because it has been proven to increase hunger in a person. The brightness attracts business to their shops and thus providing them customers and a quick turn-over.

That is just one example, every colour has a different impact  to people!  Although, this also depends on the use of these colours in certain cultures and for the specific target. All these things are called psychology of colour. By using the psychology, you can send positive or negative messages, encourage sales, calm crowds, or even make athletes push through!

For this article, we’re going notice some of the colours used in interiors for public spaces.  Colour psychology is very complicated to describe for individual homes and personal spaces, due to the subjective view of its user. As opposed to public spaces that rely on the general psychology of the customers.

So, the human brain is trained with specific visual images to be recognised and immediately reacted upon; for example, the brain sees red to mean “stop” and green for “go”. For commercial spaces, the goal is to use a concept that implements these colours to attract customers as well as entice them into spending.

Earlier, I mentioned that red is used widely in fast-food chains and restaurants to “stop” people in their tracts and increase their sense of hunger. Not only that, but also these restaurants rely on the very intense colour to produce a quick turnover of customers. Therefore, they know that the customers are attracted to the shop but they will also not stay too long and lounge around.

Similar can be said about the blue tone colours used in hospitals and prisons to trigger associations of the sky and calmness. These are used to influence behavior of the inmates and patients. With lighter tones in colour, the people in the space do not feel psychologically interrupted by their surroundings and thus they are more calm.

Alternatively, for children, the goal is to use bright vibrant primary colours. These bold colours are seen in all children toys and play things that are the best sellers for retailers. Because children are still young and slowly learning, the colours that they see regularly are not as advanced as a generally older person. The colours they recognised are used and emphasized in toys in bright hues to attract the child to something they are familiar and comfortable with.

Alas, there is a cultural impact that also comes into play; since most cultures respond to their tabooed colours differently. For example, white in western cultures is the colour of marriage and purity whilst in china it is the colour of death. Yellow is sacred to the Chinese, but symbolises sadness in Greece and jealousy in France. People from tropical countries demonstrate a preference to warm colours, whilst people from northern countries prefer cool-tone colours.

As designers, we must be able to look at spaces in its context, target market, as well as its commercial goal.  The designs made must be used to play to the strongest parts to combine the spatial design, the colours and the illumination to realise the space’s full potential.

Check back next week for my next article or check out some of Fenn Designers’ projects.

Leave A Comment