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Monday, February 11, 2013

The Psychology of Colors: A Guide for Designers

Who knew? We thought this would be not only a helpful but an interesting read as well~ not just for you sewists out there, but also for you photographers, models, and graphic designers tuning into the Designing Minds Blog! Let us know what you think of it and if you plan on using it, or will be considering any of the information you gleaned for your future projects!

The psychology of colors for designers, photographers, graphic designers, and handmade artisans. 
"Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions."
- Pablo Picasso
Do you feel anxious in a yellow room? Does the color blue make you feel calm and relaxed? Artists and interior designers have long understood how color can dramatically affect moods, feelings and emotions. It is a powerful communication tool and can be used to signal action, influence mood, and cause physiological reactions. Certain colors can raise blood pressure, increase metabolism, or cause eyestrain.

Of course, your feelings about color can also be deeply personal and are often rooted in your own experience or culture. For example, while the color white is used in many Western countries to represent purity and innocence, it is seen as a symbol of mourning in many Eastern countries. Why is color such a powerful force in our lives? What effects can it have on our bodies and minds? I thought it might be fun to explore the history of color including how it's used, the effects it may have and some of the most recent research on color psychology.

While perceptions of color are somewhat subjective, there are some color effects that have universal meaning. Colors in the red area of the color spectrum are known as warm colors and include red, orange and yellow. These warm colors evoke emotions ranging from feelings of warmth and comfort to feelings of anger and hostility. Colors on the blue side of the spectrum are known as cool colors and include blue, purple and green. These colors are often described as calm, but can also call to mind feelings of sadness or indifference.

Colors in design:
Custom Boutique trending has shown Spring 2013 with a great deal of orange,
Let's talk about orange for a bit, shall we?

Orange is the color that represents joy, communication and inner warmth. It is a mixture of yellow, which represents the intellect and of red, being the color of emotionality. Orange does not have the intellectual expression of yellow, but shares its brightness. It does not have the aggressiveness of red, but sheds its warmth. It is a warm-hearted and good natured color, full of joy and fun. It has its negative side: if too much is used in its full saturation, it can be overpowering and look gaudy. It is a hue that does not suit everybody. It is particularly becoming for redheads and honey blonds who have freckles and warm complexions. It makes most other types of colorings, dark complexions, ash blonds or brunettes, look pale. If they feel attracted to this joyful color, it is good to keep it away from the face. Orange looks great with lemon yellow. Since the lemon hue suits the other types of colorings, they could wear this hue closer to the face. Then enjoy the gorgeous energy of orange, without it draining away their own natural colorings. Orange also contrasts beautifully with a strong blue or black. So this would be another way of wearing orange and avoiding it being too close to the face.Orange is a gorgeous color to wear if you want to add pulsating energy to your looks. It is bold and expressive. It is not necessarily a color for business, unless you need to look very communicative and full of enthusiasm. It is a good color to wear in the retail business or at reception desks. It radiates tremendous fun, expresses extroversion and interest in others. It gives the wearer a good-natured expression and certainly makes them very appealing. (Source:

Looking at the other colors:  
Things to consider when designing your website, business cards, logo or that next custom boutique set...


Black is the color of authority and power. It is popular in fashion because it makes people appear thinner. It is also stylish and timeless. Black also implies submission. Priests wear black to signify submission to God. Some fashion experts say a woman wearing black implies submission to men. Black outfits can also be overpowering, or make the wearer seem aloof or evil. Villains, such as Dracula, or the "bad guy" often wear black. In fashion in western cultures, black is often associated with funerals and times of mourning.


Brides wear white to symbolize innocence and purity. White reflects light and is considered a summer color. White is popular in decorating and in fashion because it is light, neutral, and goes with everything. However, white shows dirt and is therefore more difficult to keep clean than other colors (something definitely worth considering when designing for a child!). Doctors and nurses wear white to imply sterility.


The most emotionally intense color, red stimulates a faster heartbeat and breathing. It is also the color of love. Red clothing gets noticed and makes the wearer appear heavier. Since it is an extreme color, red clothing might not help people in negotiations or confrontations. Red cars are popular targets for thieves. In decorating, red is usually used as an accent. Decorators say that red furniture should be perfect since it will attract attention.The most romantic color, pink, is more tranquilizing. Sports teams sometimes paint the locker rooms used by opposing teams bright pink so their opponents will lose energy. It is a known fact that pastries and sweets sell better when packaged in PINK!  The Aztecs of Mexico taught the Spanish how to make red dye by crushing insects called cochineals. Deep red looks bold, while pale red—pink—looks gentle. In the U.S., pink is now associated with girls, though before the 1920s it was considered a boy's color.


The color of the sky and the ocean, blue is one of the most popular colors. It causes the opposite reaction as red. Peaceful, tranquil blue causes the body to produce calming chemicals, so it is often used in bedrooms. Blue can also be cold and depressing. Fashion consultants recommend wearing blue to job interviews because it symbolizes loyalty. People are more productive in blue rooms. Studies show weightlifters are able to handle heavier weights in blue gyms. (Many military dress uniforms are done in navy blue or with blue accents to reenforce the loyalty card). For this same reason, U.S. police officers traditionally wear blue.


Currently the most popular decorating color, green symbolizes nature. It is the easiest color on the eye and can improve vision. It is a calming, refreshing color. People waiting to appear on TV sit in "green rooms" to relax. Hospitals often use green because it relaxes patients. Brides in the Middle Ages wore green to symbolize fertility. Dark green is masculine, conservative, and implies wealth. (Interesting urban legend in fashion circles: seamstresses often refuse to use green thread on the eve of a fashion show for fear it will bring bad luck.)


Cheerful sunny yellow is an attention getter. While it is considered an optimistic color, people lose their tempers more often in yellow rooms, and babies will cry more. It is the most difficult color for the eye to take in, so it can be overpowering if overused. Yellow enhances concentration, hence its use for legal pads. It also speeds metabolism. Cheerful sunny yellow gets noticed. In ancient Rome, yellow was the most popular wedding color. Yellow is sometimes worn for safety reasons: raincoats today may be bright yellow so that the wearer can be seen easily in the rain.


The color of royalty, purple connotes luxury, wealth, and sophistication~because in ancient days, it was the hardest color to get.Cleopatra needed 20,000 snails soaked for ten days to obtain one ounce of purple dye for her royal clothing.It is also feminine and romantic. However, because it is rare in nature, purple can appear artificial.


Solid, reliable brown is the color of earth and is abundant in nature. Light brown implies genuineness while dark brown is similar to wood or leather. Brown can also be sad and wistful. Men are more apt to say brown is one of their favorite colors.

Colors of the Flag

In the U.S. flag, white stands for purity and innocence. Red represents valor and hardiness, while blue signifies justice, perseverance, and vigilance. The stars represent the heavens and all the good that people strive for, while the stripes emulate the sun's rays.

Food for Thought

While blue is one of the most popular colors it is one of the least appetizing. Blue food is rare in nature. Food researchers say that when humans searched for food, they learned to avoid toxic or spoiled objects, which were often blue, black, or purple. When food dyed blue is served to study subjects, they lose appetite. Green, brown, and red are the most popular food colors. Red is often used in restaurant decorating schemes because it is an appetite stimulant.

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