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Applications of Color

Applications of Color


In this lesson, you will learn to identify psychological, physiological and cultural applications of color theory as well as applied uses.

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Hi everyone. My name is Mario. And I'd like to welcome you to today's lesson on Applications of Color. So in today's lesson, we're going to learn how to identify the psychological, physiological, and cultural applications of color theory, as well as its applied uses. So as always, feel free to pause, fast-forward, and rewind at your own pace. And when you're ready to go, let's get started.

OK. So some of you might be thinking, why do I care about this lesson? I already know what colors are. And I have a good sense of how they're applied. And that's fair. Why should you care?

We all know what colors are, of course. But not everyone knows how extremely versatile they can be used. And it can be used to make a statement, call forth a response, create an atmosphere, and much, much more. So it's good to know how color is being used in specific fashions every day to help dictate responses, trends, and behaviors. So just stick it out this lesson. And I think you'll find some very interesting information worth checking out.

So as I mentioned, color has a variety of uses and purposes. But it goes beyond the use of decor. And in fact, color has physiological and psychological effects that often determine their use around us. And by that I mean it affects us physically and mentally or emotionally.

So for example, the color red is said to have a physiological effect in that it increases blood pressure, circulation, and pulse rate. And it's also said to stimulate your sense of smell and improve appetite. On a psychological level, it's been a color associated with anger, yet also vitality, ambition, and awareness.

On the other hand, blue has kind of the opposite effect, in that it slows down pulse rate, lowers blood pressure, and can lower body temperature and even deepen your breathing. On a psychological level, the color blue is linked with eliminating mental stress, helping you relax, providing you with mental clarity. But if it's too dark of a blue, then it can lead to. depression.

Now, because color can have such a physical and mental impact, it's often used in chromotherapy, which is a complementary medical method of treating disease with color. So it's oftentimes called color therapy. And it's a therapeutic way to treat, again, physical and mental conditions.

So I can already hear skeptics thinking, that's ridiculous. If you want to treat any condition, you take it to the doctor and get some meds and be done with it. But try and keep an open mind here.

I'm not talking about, hey, you're leg looks pretty broken. Look at this blue color swatch and it'll fix you right up. No. Definitely not. Get that checked out and get it casted.

But think about what I mentioned earlier with color being able to raise or lower blood pressure. In chromotherapy, often colors are said to correspond and stimulate different areas in the body. So going back to red, it's said to stimulate adrenal glands and help increase stamina or help you feel more energetic, while blue can stimulate the pituitary gland, which then regulates bleeding patterns.

And if that's still sounds too far-fetched, then just think about its therapeutic use for mental conditions, like stress or depression. Or think about a single mom who's been working all day and just has had a terrible, terrible day, picks up her kids late from school, then finally gets home and the first thing the kids do is put a hole in the wall. And on top of it, the walls are covered in this kind of fiery red. I don't think that color is going to help with blood pressure at this point. But maybe the color therapy could help with that stress. It might help lower blood pressure or put her in a calmer, more relaxed state, maybe.

Now physical and mental uses aside, color is also used to symbolically across cultures. So for example, red again in Western culture is symbolic of love and passion. So you'll see it's use across Western holidays like Valentine's or Christmas.

But in Eastern culture, red is symbolic of prosperity or good fortune. And you'll see this color often used for New Year's and traditional weddings. And you're thinking, whoa, red for weddings?

Well, in Western cultures we use white, because white is symbolic of purity and peace. But in Eastern cultures, white is symbolic of death, so you'll see it used in funerals. But in Western culture, back again, the color of death and mourning is black. And that's what we use for funerals. So it's kind of interesting the way colors create this web across cultures in its use.

Now beyond that, of course, color has very practical uses, like wayfinding, which are visual systems which assist the viewer in finding a location or following a certain path within an environment. So take this map of underground London. And since zones are color-coded, the viewer is able to assess his or her current or desired location a lot quicker than if this map were entirely black.

And this gets put to use in everyday public transport to help you orient yourself. And you can see what I mean about that. Now you want to get around town somewhere in the orange zone, well, you take the orange lines. You know you're in the orange lines, because the buildings are orange or the subways and trains and buses are orange.

You can imagine this gets exponentially more difficult if you were to navigate around town or try to orient yourself if every zone and every line was just a singular color. So in addition to bus route name, numbers, color is also used in a very practical way to help you orient and find your way.

So color also plays a very big and important role for trends, so companies and organizations will try to predict the next annual trends in color. And this is called color forecast. So here's what's predicted to be the popular colors in 2014. And here is what's said to be popular for this spring.

And believe it or not, that actually covers today's lesson. Really quickly we'll run through some of the colors and characteristics, because I think a lot of people tend to be curious what some of these other colors represent or are typically used for some.

So red, of course, for passion and hunger, as we mentioned. It has the power of attraction. And they use a lot extensively for restaurant logos, Coca-Cola, McDonald's, KFC.

So orange is meant to be this vibrant, playful, and very energetic color. So it's heavily used in industries where children are the focus. Think of the Nickelodeon logo here.

Yellow is meant for happiness, warmth, and oftentimes caution. But yellow itself is kind of an overbearing, overpowering color, so it's kind of difficult to use. So you'll notice yellow gets typically used with other colors, especially when it comes to food chains, because you want to feel happy with the food that you're about to purchase. So again, McDonald's, Burger King, other fast food chains.

Green, of course, natural, health, renewal. So you'll see this a lot with eco-friendly companies, recycling, agricultural. And oddly enough, you'll actually see this color in the British Petroleum logo, which is a bit weird.

Blue, used quite often in corporate logos, because it's a professional color, associated with trust and authority and loyalty. So again, look at a bank logo, corporate company, Intel, IBM, even Facebook and Twitter.

So purples tend to be associated with royalty, elegance, and education and religion. So you'll see this used a lot commonly with religious institutes and oftentimes educational organizations.

Pink, of course, is representative of beauty. So you'll see this used a lot in beauty-related or fashion-related logos or companies dealing well with children accessories, of course, Barbie.

Brown is meant to be this kind of reliable, earthly, kind of neutral color. And you'll see it commonly used for agriculture, construction, sometimes food-related products. But I can usually think of just coffee and chocolate.

White, of course, we covered. It's this pure, clean color. And it's used quite often in logos and a lot of times to create negative space. So think about the Adobe logo. And of course, Apple loves using white in their products as well.

Last we have black. It's authoritative. It's mysterious, bold, sophisticated. So you'll see this used quite often to create a sense of mystery in high-end products, like think of the black Mercedes or the really pricey car, that nice sleek black TV or high-end smartphones and electronics.

Well, that does it for this lesson. We'll end with our key terms, wayfinding, chromotherapy, and color forecast. Hope you've enjoyed this lesson with me today and have a fresh, new look on how color is being applied. My name is Mario. And I'll see you next lesson.

Notes on "Applications of Color"


Image of boy throwing paint

Image of living room decor

Image of library decor

Image of child's room decor

Image of LED wall decor

Image of Red Room, Creative Commons

Image of two red hearts

Image of gold heart pin

Image of Christmas ornaments

Image of Christmas gift box

Image of Chinese market

Image of Chinese New Year Parade

Image of Traditional Chinese Wedding, Creative Commons

Image of Chinese Wedding Couple, Creative Commons

Image of White Wedding Dress, Creative Commons

Image of White Wedding Couple, Creative Commons

Image of White Doves, Creative Commons

Image of Jewish Funeral, Creative Commons

Image of Chinese Funeral Reception, Creative Commons

Image of Senator Byrd Funeral Service, Public Domain

Image of Dwight Eisenhower Funeral Service, Public Domain,_March_1969.jpg

Image of London Map

Image of Orange Line Midway Airport

Image of Orange Line entrance

Image of Orange Line tracks

Image of 2014 World Palette

Image of 2013 pantone

Terms to Know

A complementary medical method of treating disease with color.

Color Forecast

Annual trend predictions made by color marketing and various design trade organizations.


Visual systems which assist the viewer in finding following a certain path within an environment.