A touch of sophistication

by Tania Wannenburg

Colour has an influence on everyone – how it is used in design effects emotions and behaviour.

Colour has a profound influence on our emotions and behaviour and inevitably helps us to make sense of our surroundings.

While we are all naturally wired to have certain emotional responses to certain colours, cultural differences also exist, says Callie van der Merwe, chief executive officer of Design Partnership. “For example, yellow is a sacred colour in the Chinese culture, but signifies sadness for Greeks and jealousy for the French. In Western civilisations, white is the colour of purity and widows wear black as a symbol of mourning. However, in many Asian cultures brides wear black whilst white is the colour of death in China,” he points out.

In business, colours can increase brand recognition by 80%, says Van der Merwe, referring to a 2007 study by psychology and management researchers at the University of Loyola, Maryland. “In fact, colour can account for up to 85% of the reason why people buy one product over another,” according to the Colour Marketing Group, a professional organisation for colour designers in Alexandria, Va.

Colour can therefore dramatically alter movement patterns of consumers as well as influence their shopping patterns. “Apart from all the other tricks applied in retail, this is the one major psychological influence that retailers can easily and relatively cheaply take advantage of,” says Van der Merwe.

For the past 15 years, Pantone has combed the world for colour influences across industries – from fashion and entertainment to travel and other socio-economic conditions, and each year selects a key colour that in turn has influenced product development and interior design.

Pantone Colour of the Year

Signifying fortified wine and Indian spice, the Pantone Colour of the Year for 2015, Marsala, is a full-bodied and earthy wine-red that makes for an elegant, grounded statement colour or a powerful accent.

According to Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Colour Institute, Marsala was carefully selected to speak to people’s need for nurturing and the identified need for something robust. The colour has an intrinsic life force that exudes confidence and stability, and enriches mind, body and soul.

“The most interesting thing about Marsala,” says Eiseman, “is that even though it has this grounded influence and earthy undertone, at the same time it has sophistication, so there is something very versatile about this colour.”

Intense without being overpowering, it provides decorators with a unifying element for interior spaces and adds elegance to interior designs. The hue is especially prominent when used in striping and floral patterns.

One of Eiseman’s favourite applications of the Marsala colour is wall paint, either on a focal wall or for an entire room. According to her, it will work especially well in dining areas since the tasteful, hearty tone embodies the satisfying richness of a fulfilling meal that makes it an effective appetite stimulant. This will also make it a functional colour in restaurants.

Eye-catching textures
Marsala’s plush characteristics are further enhanced when the colour is applied to textured surfaces, particularly fabrics, says Eiseman. “Because of the strong undertone of brown, and yet it is essentially a wine-red, you have all kinds of variation going on within the colour to begin with,” she explains.

An expert in the texture business, Gabrielle Dyer from St Leger & Viney, says that a variety of blues, from deep navy to a rich and royal blue, as well as greys are gaining popularity in the design world and that Marsala works beautifully with these. “I expect these colours to start trickling into South African spaces as we say goodbye to summer,” she says.

“Another trend that emerged at the end of last year is nature-inspired décor – bright, vibrant and retro images of various plants and palms. As the world persists on being environmentally friendly, the colour green and natural materials will always be a safe choice,” she adds.

Wallpaper has yet again become a statement piece, taking the role as artwork rather than merely creating a background effect. With technology advancing fast, wall coverings are not just made of paper anymore. It is dyed, sewn and fixed to leather, foam or even bamboo resembling forests or padded lingerie. According to Dyer, it has also become highly customisable, which makes the design possibilities endless.

To keep a space interesting, texture should vary from one element to another, Dyer advises. “And wallpaper doesn’t just have to be on the wall. It can also be used on ceilings and even furniture. I’m looking forward to see more of this sort of thinking in local designs.”

Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to Pantone, Design Partnership and St Leger & Viney for the information given to write this article.

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(Courtesy of Design Partnership)

Warm colours: Reds, oranges and browns
•    Orange evokes joy and decreases anxiety, which leads to increased dwell time and a higher chance of a customer making a purchase.
•    Certain orange shades are appetite stimulants – ideal for restaurants.
•    Intense reds are great for fast-food outlets to increase purchase decision speed.
•    Bright reds or yellows grab customers’ attention, with red meaning stop and yellow being the first colour to be perceived by the retina.
•    Softer, warm colours represent sophistication and opulence that can support a higher-end shopping experience.

Cool colours: Light blues and greens
•    Reminiscent of the ocean and sky, light blues are effective as a calming device in slowing customers down.
•    In a bar, blue can stimulate more drink orders.
•    Shades of light green or deeper green create a sense of peace, freshness and health, perfect for health food stores and pharmacies.
•    Darker greens have a strong reference to affluence and high-quality items.

Purples and pinks
•    Purple represents an air of aristocracy, mystery and spirituality.
•    Shades of pink are energetic and fun and useful to support the idea of romance.

Blacks, greys and whites
•    Black or dark grey is often used on ceilings to black out unsightly services and is useful to make one focus lower down to where the colour and products are on display.
•    Both black and white are useful as a backdrop for information or colourful signage.


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