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What is Color?
Design Goals

Vision + Light

The Visible Spectrum
The Optical System
Effects on Color

Psychophysiological Effects
Neuropsychological Aspect
Environmental Influences
Emotional Reaction
Survey Results

Color Fundamentals
Color Systems
Color Vocabulary
Color Harmony


Josef Albers

Faber Birren

Karim Rashid

Case Studies

Concept + Programming

Sections + Elevations

Exploration of Color

VT Chicago Arts Center


What is Color?
Color is a visual experience that subconsciously affects
individual’s functions and emotions. The human response
to color is based upon one’s perception of behavioral
aspects that are controlled by the brain.
The study of color is a complex subject composed of
various theories. Many experiments have been
conducted to prove that color is indeed an influential
factor composed of both subjective and objective
aspects. Color affects individuals differently based upon
their gender, age, culture and other biological factors that
are explored throughout this exploration.
Throughout history, ancient scholars used color to solve
mysteries among their time. Sometimes portrayed as
symbolic or magical, color has been used in healing
practices dating as far back to the Egyptian period
(Mahnke, p.30). However, interest in color decreased
throughout the Middle Ages with the advancement of
scientific knowledge. It was not until the late 19th century
that color would begin to be practiced in healing again.
By considering color in design, it allows designers to
create a mood within a space that tells a story and leaves
an emotional impact on each individual.
Educational Centre by Alejandro Muñoz Miranda

Design Goals
From this color study I hope to gain a better understanding of the
psychological effects of color in an interior space and incorporate
the findings into my designs by:

1. Bringing awareness to the psychophysiological effects of color
within a space
2. Applying color in a way that contradictions the standard
functional context
3. Integrating the surrounding elements of the geographical
location into the space to reflect the color scheme
4. Creaing an unique experience that changes overall mood of
the space
5. Provoking a psychological sensation through the use of
different hues

Color Theory exercise (2011)

Vision + Light .

Ultraviolet. and LEDs (colorcodedarch) . green.The Visible Spectrum Light is Color The physical difference between radio waves. A spectral color is the light of a specific wavelength and hue is the color perception. infrared. and X-rays is wavelength The Visible Light Spectrum is the electromagnetic rays we can see such as violet. red and yellow. White light can be made by mixing colors but not black Shortest range= purple and blues Longest range= red Sources for visible light rays included Natural and Artificial (Fluorescent. Gas charge. visible light. blue. Incandescent.

Color comes from light: 1. Object (Apple) the surface of the apple absorbs the light rays. p. Source (Sun) “invisible” colors shine onto the apple 2.The Optical System The eye and light are in direct relation with one other. Detector (Eye and Brain) the eye receives and then sends message to the brain (Mahnke. Since color only exsist in the brain.94-95) . except red which is reflected into the eye 3. it is the eyes job to receive the reflected light waves and transmit the wavelengths to the cerebral cortex.

97-99) . (Mahnke. surface reflection and surrounding objects play a factor in how color is perceived.95. “The color rending index (CRI) was developed to describe how well colors are rendered by artificial light sources compared with natural light” (p. p. Color is perceived based upon the context of the space and should be considered when developing a color scheme. The interior space effects the perception of color directly through artificial lighting.98).The Effects on Color Light intensity.

Psychophysiological Effects .

Psychological Physical events that affect the conscious.7) . and unconscious Physiological Lightwave frequencies that “describe the effects stimuli have upon us” (Mahnke. subconscious. p.

Cerebral Cortex “Receives and interprets” sense Cerebrum Thinking takes place (right. temperature. left-logic) Thalamus Associated with the senses (sight. irritation and difficulty in concentration Reticular Formation Extreme complexity: overstimulation that effects breathing.creative. p. hearing. temperature. An individual needs relief that comes from a variety and contrast of light. intensity and dominance of color Affects balance and movement Effects entire nervous system (visual -external and mental activity) (Mahnke. pulse rate. taste. intensity and dominance of color Cerebellum Extreme unity: under stimulation that causes restlessness. blood pressure and muscle tension contrast of light.Neuropsychological Aspect Each part of the brain creates a “temporary arousal reaction” that effects the emotional state. 20-22) . and touch) Hypothalamus Emotion and physical response Pituitary Gland Influences the glands Extreme unity and complexity can cause visual displeasure.

” . all connecting at the spinal column (threeheartscompany) ..Chromotherapy the healing of color “Colors.. The Colors of the Chakras . follow the changes of the emotions. Divided into the seven main “energies” of the body Each engery stems from a major nerve ganglia. like features.Pablo Picasso Light is used in the form of color to balance energy.

Styles: Temporary colors that reflect a time period 6. Influence of Trends. p.11) . Fashion. Collective Unconscious: Personal experience pertaining to color 3.Environmental Influences Numerous environmental factors influence the perception of color that creates a memorable experience. Biological Reactions to a Color Stimulus: “Psychological component” from the natural effects of nature The “Color Experience Pyramid” 2. 1. Personal Relationship: Individual likes and dislikes (Mahnke. Conscious Symbolism: “Learned responses” that are symbolic to the surrounding environment 4. Cultural Influences and Mannerism: Particular colors are that are related to a country or location 5.

In interiors. lust. power. It is often used in restaurants to increase appetite or in logos associated with food. blood (Eiseman. p. passion. Amara) . sexy. energy. angry.Red “The most physical color in the spectrum. red is used to make a bold statement.7. a red wall might create a warm cozy feeling that makes you want to sit around the Survey Association Fire.” Associated with the heart and blood. In residential design. the color red has been proven to raise the heart rate and energy level. love.

fun. tropical.Orange The color orange is known to encourage activy and stimulate conversation. caution + safety. Subjectively. Around 500 B. Hokies. Often associated with the term “rebirth.. 13) . vibrant. Survey Association Excitement. the fruit inspired the name of the color and the Orange was known as the fruit of the gods and kings. hunting (Eiseman.C.” it gained popularity in Renaissance paintings and was an iconic color in the 90s fashion trend. the vibrant color is either greatly liked or disliked. p. noticeable.

p. Different shades of yellow convey different messages. light. Survey Association happiness. playfulness (Eiseman. sun. 23) . the color yellow is the easiest color for the human eye to see.Yellow Besides being directly related to the sun. where as a bright yellow might raise the emotional temperature and increase liveliness and encourage innovation. A light yellow might bring warmth and softness to your home.

In interiors. p. green is often placed in environments that are ment to soothe and encourage mental relaxation. Amara) . 37. prosperity. green can provoke a multitude of moods from environmental awareness to fertility and growth. luck (Eiseman. money. environment. green is the most seen color in the world. Therefore. growth.Green The color of nature. Survey Association nature.

relaxing (Eiseman. It is the top favorite color in the world. cold. Amara) . it is often found in health care design and in residential. clear. Blue is also associated with many religious practices meaning mercy and honor. especially in bedrooms. Since blue is a symbol of rest. calming. sky. 31.Blue The color of the water and sky. soothing. serenity. Survey Association Ocean + water. tranquility. blue is the color of serenity and calmness. p.

royality. power. where others calm. p. Survey Association Flowers + horticulture. It encourages creativity and is symbolic to royality. 43) A colourful life: 2014 Pantone colour of the year “Radiant orchid” .” (Eiseman.Violet The color purple is a combination of blue in red. pride A few people referred to the Willy Wonka reference “You’re turning violet. violet. luxury. Certain shades uplift. and in effect its emotional impact is a balance of the two. deception.

It provokes strong emotions of power and authority. 55. innocence. somber. depression. It is the “presence of light” and the best way to represent cleanliness. mourning. Black and Grey As the white flag indicates a truce. but leave you with a feeling of emptiness. angels. void. clean. Black is a combination of color that creates depth within spaces. serious. good. emo. negative. emo White: pure. sexy. Snow and clouds are both have soft properties. 61) .Neutrals White. peaceful. which reflect the emotional effects of clarity and purification. p. sleek. the color white also is a symbol of peace. marriage. light. weddings (Eiseman. Survey Association Black: Sadness. dark.

Through a survey that consisted of 45 people from the ages of 18-60 of all occupations and courses of study. children to adults. decoration and furniture. and is found in light. it impacts the overall form. Flag) Note: Results with individual colors associations are found on the Meaning of Colors . here are my findings: What is the first thing you notice in an interior space? Form (Shape + Size) Light Color Decoration Furniture 32% 20% 11% 25% 11% Although color was not the first thing people noticed.Survey Results Color connotations and associations differ among men to women. Favorite Color Blue Red Pink Yellow Purple Green Lease Favorite Color 36% 7% 16% 7% 18% 18% Pink Yellow Orange Purple Brown Black Green 13% 13% 20% 13% 22% 9% 9% Are there any colors or color combinations that are significant to you or your culture? 22% Maroon + Orange (School) 18% Red + White + Blue (U.S. as well as professions and cultures.

and response (Portillo. branding and product differentiation Physics Color and light properties and measurements Color likes and dislikes Prescriptive color solutions Traditional schemes and harmonies Natural coloration of materials Dimensionality Visualization and applications Psychology Color Sensation. perception. p. 2-3) .Considerations + Challenges Art Subjectivity Anthropology Objectivity Design Conventionally Marketing Materiality Color interaction and contrast Cultural and historical color symbolism Color Planning narratives Color and arousal.

Color Fundamentals .

Since then various color wheels have been created. Color Scheme based on Analogous Colors (right) or complementary colors 3. Color Harmony Visual pleasure to the eye ex. causing debates. 2. The Color Wheel Sir Issac Newton created the 1st color diagram in 1666.1. (Color Matters) . Color Context The relational impact that shapes and colors have on each other.

(rgbworld) . Additive color comes from a source to create light.Color Systems The scientific study of color is a system that is divided into additive and subtractive color. Subtractive Color Additive Color Subtractive color is wavelengths that are absorbed and reflected. but the subtractive color system is the method used by artists that impacts the senses in the brain (Color Matters). This system is used for printing. When colors are added together they produce black. When colors are added together they produce white. Each part of the system is equally important. photography and painting.

Color Theory Powerpoint) .Color Vocabulary Hue purest wavelength and intensity Value lightness or darkness Tint hue + white Shade hue + black Tone hue + gray Chroma brilliance or dullness (B. Leshyn.

Color Theory Powerpoint) . Leshyn. Red + Green. Blue + Green.Color Harmony Monochromatic Analogous 1 Hue 2-3 Adjacent hues (icanbecreative) Ex. Green + Purple + Yellow Red + Yellow + Blue (B. Orange + Red Complementary Triad Polychromatic Opposite hues that contrast each other 3 Equidistant hues 3-4 different hues Ex. Purple + Yellow Ex.

Influences .

As a professor he “linked architecture and painting” and belived that color is changing depending on the surrounding relation. but joined the faculty as a stained glass instructor and later became a professor of the arts.Josef Albers “Color is understood through experience” Known for his color context studies that explores the Interaction of color Studied at the Bauhaus as a painter. .

” Father of applied color psychology (devoted his life to the study of color) Originator of OSHA colors Established the profession of color consultants (1936) Discovered the relationship of the fundamental attributes pertaining to hues: shade. and tone. .Faber Birren “The study of color is essentially a mental and psychological science. for the term color itself refers to sentation. tint.

mood. furniture. Color is not just surface and is not intangible. feeling. texture. very strong. lighting fixtures and product goods (karimrashid. and to touch our everyday public is very real. depth. a powerful tool and has a real physical . 3.” Rashid is an industrial designer and interior architect known for his futuristic designs that pushes the exploration of color.Karim Rashid “I use extensive variations of colors to create form.000+ designs in over 35 countries including fashion.

Case Studies .

1 Fallingwater Frank Lloyd Wright Integrated over a waterfall.gathering place Open living room that surrounds natural elements Narrow hallways to create the sense of compression Low ceilings to direct eye outside (archdaily) Strategic Design Local natural sandstone 2 paint colors with a neutral “backdrop” Motifs Horizonal line.soft curve of transition and balance (Portillo. Cascade. reflecting those who occupied the retreat” (p. p. 11-18) . this residence is famous for incorporating nature and architecture into a manmade structure with horizontal lines and cantilevers that create a sense of freedom through balance “Fallingwater was meant to evolve and change over time.freedon and line Cantilevier.waterfall Semicircle.12) Planning + Programming Designed around the fireplace .

brick. and practice work together to develop expertise in color” . study. research.“Mastery of color can easily consume a lifetime of study. framework (window mullions). Edgar Kaufmann Sr. and furniture Inspired by the soil + Red was wrights favorite color Ocher Used through lighting and furniture Inspired by the Rhododendrons found on site Black Walnut Found on the woodwork to add contrast from furniture Note: Wall color remains the same but textiles have changed over the years . reflection. Wright The client.Frank L. experimenttion. observation. and his family greatly contributed to the interior design Cherokee Red Used on the floor.

Planning + Programming Adjacent programming decreased travel distances Rooftop healing gardens provide an escape Sustainable practices maximize daylight to reduce heat gain Strategic Design Exterior impacts the interior with a colorful glow Natural light provided from visual access to the outside surroundings (patient rooms and public spaces) Way finding is incorported through color palettes.2 Phoenix Children’s Hospital HKS Architects A renovated design to improve the spacial flexibiltiy of the plan inspired by an oasis that reflects the surrounding landspace. wall murals and sculptures Local materials were used to reduce off-gassing .

functions patient care units lease space public/ administrative building services outpatient clinics diagnostic/ treatment circulation veritical circulation/ shafts auxiliary color .

3 Switch Restaurant and Lounge Karim Rashid A futuristic statement that “switches” the role of hospitality design by provoking thought and excitement within emotions Planning + Programming Long symmetrical rectangle Seating divided into dining.” (Middle East interiors) . bar and lounge areas Flexible table to accommodate different number of parties Continuous and seamless walls that wrap around the space Strategic Design International iconic design Transitional from day to night that changes the mood No natural lighting Simple color scheme to reflect color changing walls Everything is curved Wall is “inspired by the Arabic letter ‘S’ turned on its side.

Your Rainbow Panorama Olafur Eliasson “A space without boundaries” Designed to create a dialogue between the existing architecture and the city of Aarhus in Denmark that challenges the individual to imagine limits beyond the interior boundaries Planning + Programming Circular walkway 450ft. W Strategic Design Over looks the city of Denmark (admirers see different colors depending on where they are located in the city) Glass in all colors of the spectrum Lights embedded in the floor are lit up at night (Aros) 4 . L x 10ft.

Application .

light sources. Gives direction and defines circulation ex. Creates a connection between the surrounding environment and interior space A color palette is affected by the geographical location. characteristics of potentional users. however sometimes they cross over and evoke memories.How Color Impacts us as Designers Color creates a visual experience in an interior space 1. and overall form of the space . The Triennale Design Museum in Milano designed by Fabio Novembre (right) 2. the programming. Each sense has a pathway to the brain and run parallel to each other. Affects taste and smell Synaesthesia is how senses work together. 4. Creates a mood and tells a story 3.

Exploration of Space Defining space by the reversal of containment lead to the exploration of color and light. which has been a common interest expressed throughout my designs. .

Virginia Tech Chicago arts center A transitional multi-cultural art center that stages the movement for creativity .

Incorporate the exterior landscape into the space that reflects Grant Park and the surrounding environment through the use of materials and natural lighting 2. Design a dynamic space that appeals to Chicago’s cosmopolitan diversity that affects the student and faculty’s individual mood throughout the space 3. Provoke a surreal experience that contradicts the dreams and reality. Promote sustainability that encourages environmental stewardship to advance the knowledge of future generations that employ the space . which create an element of surprise and juxtaposition between mass and volume of the space 5.Design Goals 1. Development a movement within the space through the progression of color which defines a hierarchical relationship and allows for wayfinding and branding 4.

The Virginia Tech Chicago Arts Center is a transitional multi-cultural space that stages the movement of creativity.Pro · gres · sion a movement or development toward a destination or a more advanced state. Students are challenged throughout the program to leave an individual legacy that encourages the advancement of knowledge to future generations that inhabit the space. Progression of Public to Private . From experimenting with concepts to the final stages of artwork or performances. Kimball Office offers a collection of traditional and modern pieces that together create a movement within space. esp. but also aesthetically pleasing. furniture and fixtures. students and faculty are equipped with furniture and fixtures that are not only functional. color. studio art and music push the traditional learning environment to create a program that inspires innovation. interior design. there are many disciplines that have the ability to influence a culture. A collaboration of architecture. The progression of creativity has inspired a surreal movement that has influenced spatial relationships. gradually or in stages Within design.

Floor Plan Floor Plan 1 Scale 1/32” = 1’0” 1 Entrance 2 Info Area 3 Performance 4 Gallery 5 Cafe + Lounge 6 Round Table 7 Material Library 8 Women’s Restroom 9 Men’s Restroom 10 Classroom 11 Faculty Office 12 Practice Rooms 13 Dressing Rooms 14 Recording Studio 15 Conference Room 16 Storage 17 Print Lab 18 Studio 19 Presentation Room Floor Plan 2 Scale 1/32” = 1’0” Circulation Diagram .

Gallery Detail Inspired by the movement of the Chicago Metro System LED lighting system embedded in transparent glass panels used for displaying art work. Possible Kimball Traxx system arrangements: .

Studio Perspective .

PleaseCayenne Carpet Flor CambiumGeranium Note: P1 all walls to be painted unless otherwise noted .Finish Plan Finish Schedule Symbol/ Texture Type P1 Manufacturer Product Paint Sherwin Williams Westhighland White Carpet Bentley IconicRio de Janeiro Wood Armstrong Kempa Natural Warm Colors Aggregate Concrete Carpet Flor Like MindedBurgandy Carpet Flor Made you lookTangerine Carpet Flor Line.

Furniture Plan C7 C7 T1 C8 T7 C9 C9 C9 T6 T6 T6 C10 C10 C10 C10 T5 T5 T5 T5 C7 C7 C5 T5 T3 T3 T3 C2 T5 T5 T5 C6 C7 C7 T5 C7 C9 T6 T5 C1 T5 C7 C2 T5 C2 C6 DN C8 T3 C11 T4 T3 C5 C8 T3 T3 T8 T3 C11 T9 C4 T9 T9 T9 T9 C5 T9 C11 T2 C3 C11 T2 T2 T2 C5 T8 C3 T2 C1 T1 T8 C11 T8 T8 C11 .

Carnelian T9 Kimball Axos White Leather Kimball Bingo White Finish Kimball Itsa Maharam Alias.Cerise T5 Kimball Villa Rectangle Bench Maharam Air by Kvadrat T6 Kimball Kimball Poly Arpeggio Tangerine T7 T8 Maharam Disperse.Finish Schedule Furniture Image Symbol Manufacturer Description Fabric/ Finish Kim Salmela Palette Rainbow Grade K Furniture Image Symbol C1 Kimball Independence Hillsborough C2 Kimball Adagiato Maharam Aria.Semolina Manufacturer Description Fabric/ Finish Kimball Occasional Table Brighton Maple Wood Finish Kimball Arpeggio Cordoba Cherry Wood Finish Kimball Arpeggio Cordoba Cherry Wood Finish Kimball Innsbruck Coco Sapele Wood Finish Kimball Scenario White Finish. White Frame Kimball Definition Coco Sapele Wood Finish Brighton Maple Wood Finish .656 T3 C3 C4 C5 C6 C7 C8 C9 C10 C11 Kimball Kimball Bingo Armless Stool White Finish T1 T4 Kimball Acapella armless Maharam Overlay. Metal Frame Kimball Fluent Brighton Maple Wood Finish Kimball Conference Solution Kimball Priority0002 Brighton Maple Wood Finish.Swerve T2 Adagiato Maharam Skyline by Kvadrat.

Reflected Ceiling Plan .

Pink Bocci 28.3 Random Pendant Chandelier Bocci 28.1 Satellite Single Pendant .White Suspended linear fixture .7 7 Pendant Chandelier-Clear Philips Ecomood Pendant No.smooth surface light 2x2 Standard open office Philips Arctone Surface mounted track light Bocci 28. 40341.Lighting Schedule Fixture Image Natural Light Progression Symbol Manufacturer Product Description Philips Rotaris TBS741 6” Recessed downlight Philips Corview Panel.

From this study. scientific factors of the human response and the actual colors themselves. I think and see in color. each person is blessed with a unique experiences.” (Portillo. As a designer. but once it is perceived into the brain there is a transformation to subjective qualities that provoke numerous theories. I have gained a better understand of how color effects the psychological and physiological aspects within the human response that will allow me to inhance my designs. p. I was having difficulty understanding the difference between the subjective and objective effects of color. I have learned that the measurement of light is an objective matter.Conclusion “Color is the first thing you notice and the last thing you leave with.1) When I first began this study. Although the study of color is endless. . By considering color in design. interior and architectural environment. Since every individual’s brain is different. color has allowed me to express myself through my concepts from the strategic design all the way through the final presentation stages. I can create a mood within a space and tell a story that leaves an emotional impact on each individual. it represents a collection of my artistic sense.

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edu Virginia Tech School of Architecture + Urban Studies Interior Design .Brittani Anderson brittani@vt.