Color: Culture, Trends, and You


Color: Culture, Trends, and You

Over the summer, during our “Color Muze” segments on Artistically Speaking Talk Show,  we have focused on the Color Experience Pyramid, as outlined by color expert, Frank H. Mahnke of the International Association of Colour Consultants/Designers .

As described in the posts, “Pyramid Scheme”  and “The Embodiment of Color”, we experience color on a number of different levels, and Mr. Mahnke has developed a  ” pyramid scheme”  to organize them. This schemata looks like a  broad-based triangle, and is composed of six levels, starting at the wide base with our biological responses to a color stimulus, and ending at its pointed tip, with our personal relationship to  color.  In other words, the Pyramid levels move from the general to the specific.

Here’s to the red, white and blue…and, yellow!?

We are influenced by our cultures, and this affects how we experience and use color, and our emotional response to it.   Top 1 Oil, a company that produces and provides, you got, it, petroleum products, uses the colors of the American flag in its logo, along with sunny, optimistic, and energetic yellow.   Do we feel energetic when we view this logo?

In addition to presenting a logo and branding that encompass all three primary (red, blue, yellow) colors,  supported by white, aka, purity, this color combination reads patriotism plus.  The yellow adds brightness and warmth, relating to an image of golden oil. What a message of hopefulness, buoyancy, energy (oil = fuel,/sunlight = energy = fuel) and forward movement!

Very few of us, no matter how individual we may want to, or feel ourselves to be, can resist at least some influence of current fashions and trends. The  Color Marketing Group (CMG) mwebsite states that they are ” the premier international association for color design professionals. Our mission is to create color forecast information for professionals who design and market color. ”  There is a whole world of those forecasting the next color trend, or “color of the year”, and like it or not, they exert great influence over what we see on the runways, on the road, on our walls, and even  on our bodies.

Yet, what goes into these trends?  There must be some combination of cultural experience, current events, environmental states, and the impact of history that informs them.

Mid-Century … modern once upon a time…

As I share in my post, Featured Work: “Mid-Century Retro”:   Starburst, Atom, or Tinkertoy?Mid-Century Modern design style, both in its “original’ format more than a half a century ago, and in its many personalized revivals, encompasses specific colors, textures, shapes, and patterns.  These comprise a style or trend, that was fresh, “a la mode”, and au courant” at one time, and has now become retro, beloved by some, whimsical to others, fun and even intriguing to many.

Paradoxically, Mid-Century Retro and its accompanying earth tones, burnt oranges, grey and gold hues can be seen as a current trend or fashion, even though its original style is no longer fresh and new, or in the van guard.  The fact that this style is nostalgic (depending on when you were born…or, not) can, pun intended, color our emotional and aesthetic response to the palette.

Finally…to the personal..our Personal Relationship to Color….

So, why do we love what we love?

I quote Frank Mahnke, who says, “…the “color experience”, or, how we experience color, is made up of the inter-relationship and connection of all the levels of the pyramid….we, within our life and according to mood, change color preference….An expression through color…characterizes us, and gives an indication of who we are as individuals.’

Serving up some  specific Color Choices…

Bright colors on an exterior mural….what the client wants to see outside her kitchen window…

The purple sunset sky desired by a young girl for her bedroom ceiling….

Magical colors on the exterior of a building brightening the foggy weather…

Knowing the “theory”…, color theory that is, can help us make these choices, and feel as though we are on the “right”  track.

Our experience of color through nature  is direct, primal, and  visceral.  Also, most likely, backed up by theory, if we really look at it.

Nature, color and art, are they separable?  What do You think?

What is the influence of culture and trends on your personal relationship to color?

If you are so moved, please share about it with us here.  We love to hear from You.

Remember, we are all coloring in this thing called Life, together.





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