Colour & Trends

October 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

Thinking & Practice

Our seminar was focused on colour and how we as designers use them. Everyone is manipulated to have a particular response to colour. As designers it is our job to be in control of colour and how it is used in our designs. Brands and companies invest large portions of money in order to test the different consumer responses to colour, for example within a retail environment, different shops give out different impressions by the different displays they use. Hollister will have very different connotations to the clothes section in a supermarket, for instance.

To use colour/pigments/dyes was historically very expensive. In 1856 synthetic dye was developed to be resistant to fading in clothing however only the richest of people could afford it at this time. This is how the impressions of strong colour being associated with royalty, power came from – it is a well known cultural association.

Colour is directly responsible for advancements in medicine, perfumery, food, explosives, photography and other such things. Colour photography was still quite expensive to use even by the 1970s, because of the chemical processes used. The majority of people used black and white photography until cheaper types of colour processes were invented.

William Eggleston is a Memphis based photographer who focused on the process of high saturation photographs. People around at the time his photos were published did not understand the meaning behind his exaggerated photographs of everyday objects. His photos were the first to be shown at an Art Show in New York using purely photography, and they were not very well received by audiences at that time.




Colour TV  was introduced in 1969. Sports such as snooker were allowed to be screened because of its colour associations and before this time, football teams had to use stripes and shapes as indicators rather than colour. Wes Anderson films contain a really strong sense of colour.  He uses it specifically to show emotion or create an impression (ie loneliness, happiness etc). World events such as 9/11 can have impact on trends, for example vintage clothes simulate the past, so there may have been a rise in vintage fashion around the time of 9/11. However, there can also be backlashes to trends.

We were set two tasks to help us understand the use of colour. The first one is an online test called “How well do you see colour?” It involves being presented with a series of colour scales and having the place the colour blocks in order so that it creates a gradient.

The task was actually harder than it sounds! The lower score you get the better, 0 being the best score, and I got a shocking 47.


The second task, of which will be completed next week, was to choose an image of a piece of art and then create a colour swatch based on the colours used in the image.


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