Calms and sharpens concentration
Refreshes and relieves stress
Stimulates the mind and feels optimistic
Promotes creativity, mixes the benefits of yellow and red
A purely physical and extroverted “signal” color
The Wondrous World of Colors
An exclusive interview with color psychologist Silvia Regnitter-Prehn, conducted by Andrea Bruchwitz.
How does the color of our immediate surroundings influence our well-being? Color has an immense effect on our subconscious. When designing a room in a certain color, it shouldn’t be done in a sense of blind euphoria. Painting the walls a new color lasts a long time and affects people on many levels of consciousness. First you need to be aware that a wall cannot constantly be changed. Every color has a meaning rooted deep in our archaic world, and it is very important to consider this effect.
What do we subconsciously associate with…
Red is the color of power; a purely physical and extroverted color. Red is a “signal” color that warms people and strengthens self-confidence. It is the first color people perceive. Studies have shown that people can recognize red in 0.02 seconds, whereas blue takes 0.06 seconds. That’s why, in works of art, the red details leap out at us first. Red only stimulates the body, however, and not the mind or soul. This color is not for quiet rooms.
Blue is the favorite color of 38 percent of all Germans. It is a very peaceful and relaxing color. We associate it with composure, quiet, calmness, concentration and precision. Additionally, blue creates a certain distance. Viewers can linger in front of a blue artwork for a long time, because it creates a territory, an expanse, around itself. It requires zero effort for us to gaze into blues such as deep seas or azure skies. Nature produces these color effects.
Green has a calming and positive effect on people. It represents relaxation and can relieve stress. Green is generally a neutral color, but there is a difference between all the hues. Light greens or leafy greens have a more amusing atmosphere, whereas dark, forest greens feel heavier. People should ask themselves what fits with their sensibilities and character before permanently surrounding themselves with the color. Humans are always in resonance with colors and will feel an instinctive repulsion to some hues.
Yellow represents activity, warmth, and creativity. It stimulates the mind and greatly promotes concentration. Depending on the particular shade, yellow can also have a cool effect – in muted tones, for instance. Pure yellow has a happy, open, bright, and optimistic appearance.
What should a person look for when selecting art? Would you recommend a more varied or monochromatic color scheme?
I say yes to a life full of colors, but everybody needs to listen to their inner voice and feel happy with the art. People are in their own mental space and need to select art that affirms their inner self. As a color psychologist, I can only accompany someone through this process. I have often heard people say that they can no longer bear to look at a particular artwork after a certain length of time. So why did they buy it in the first place? “Because it was recommended to me.” The viewer has to be able to empathize with the colors.
What are the limits of these colors’ effects?
We mustn’t alienate the colors too much and detach them from their natural origins. Studies have shown, for example, that people find black yogurt unpleasant, regardless of how it tastes. A white floor and a pitch-black ceiling contradict the laws of nature: The sky is always brighter than the earth. People would become very sick in this kind of room – they need to instinctively feel at ease with the colors around them. The language of colors reaches its limits when it is supposed to override the laws of nature.