a COlOURfUL ExISTEnCE

As self-confessed colourholics, we weigh in on the healing power of colour.

WORDS BY REBECCA RHYS-EVANS

At KOIBIRD, we can’t get enough when it comes to colour, and we usually dive straight in with a ‘too much is never enough’ approach. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting our Marylebone store, then you’ll know we don’t shy away from vibrant surroundings, and this translates into our wardrobe choices too. But, as the leaves turn brown and the weather turns, we keep asking the question - why is colour so powerful? And how does it boost your mood?

Let’s start with the facts. Many scientists and researchers have investigated the effects of certain colours on the human body, most often finding red increases our heart rate, whereas blue tends to lower it. But perhaps it’s the psychological effect that’s most intriguing. In the hopes of reducing suicide (bear with us), an initiative in Tokyo was introduced in 2009 to install blue lights on the subway. When the death rate reportedly dropped 84%, the same initiative was introduced elsewhere around the world, including Gatwick Airport, establishing the calming effects of blue light on our brains.

In an interview with New York Magazine, artist and architect Gaetano Pesce said that “colour is very important in our life because it is the symbol of vitality. If you go into a cemetery, there is no colour because there is no life, and the dead are a representation of that.” The idea that colour symbolises life and death black or darkness, is certainly not a new one. Just think of Hitchcock’s classic black & white horror Psycho, or the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz– colour, or a lack thereof, is a clear trope for desperation, sadness, violence.

Another major player when it comes to our relationship with colour is nostalgia. Marianne Shillingford, the founder of the Colour in Design Awards and the Creative Director of Dulux, tells us that “just like tastes, colours can transport us to a moment in time we can recall with clarity and they are intertwined with the way we felt in those moments” she also notes that our varying personal preferences are “simply because our associations and experiences of the world are unique to us.”

But is a love for colour innate, or is it something we learn? Pantone Executive Director Leatrice Eiserman suggests that whilst “some people are born with a special sense of colour, just as some children can play the piano by ear from an early age, [that] much about colour can be learned and ultimately practiced, just as practising the piano can make you more proficient.” 

Yet the question remains. Can you dress yourself happy? What we know to be true, is that a bold palette has more scope to explore and expand identity. But as Shillingford suggests, it can require confidence, “making choices about which colour to wear on your body or paint in your home is all about confidence and commitment... and bear in mind all enduring love stories simply can’t work without commitment.”

And so, as the old saying goes ‘always look on the bright side of life’. It may not be a case of ‘colour conquers all’, but it certainly brings joy, and who can argue with that?

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