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Enriching Lives with Color

Colors flavor our moments with vitality and peace and our emotional landscape with pleasing impressions of contentment and wonder.
Colors flavor our moments with vitality and peace and our emotional landscape with pleasing impressions of contentment and wonder.

Enveloping us in a vibrancy that delights the soul with dynamism and repose, or saturating our consciousness with a serenity of hues that calm and center our mind, colors surround us absolutely, flavoring our moments with vitality and peace and activating our emotional landscape with frequencies of liveliness and strength. The belief that color profoundly affects the body and the mind dates back to ancient times, when Egyptians would paint therapy rooms orange to lessen fatigue or blue to relieve pain. Color was also used to treat symptoms in traditional Chinese medicine and in Ayurveda, an ancient system of medicine developed in India. While the scientific research on chromotherapy, or color healing, is slim and largely anecdotal, there is no doubt that the color in our surroundings shapes our mood and nourishes our spirit, and has been used to manage stress, improve one’s sleep, regulate energies, and enhance communication and social relationships. The colors we choose for our homes reflect who we are and how we choose to feel, granting color much agency in interior design, and sheltering a connection between design and emotion, one that is robust and intense, prized and poignant.

For centuries designers and artists have understood the value of color and its potential to affect our psyche with measured vigor and a passionate poise, embarking on journeys to manipulate color the way words shape poetry, as Joan Miro expressed, or as notes create pleasurable music. "Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions," the artist Pablo Picasso once remarked, and indeed the colors we encounter shape our lived experience and the feelings we navigate, with warm colors like red, orange, and yellow energizing the senses with both happiness and hostility, and cool colors like blue, green, and purple invoking feelings of comfort, calm, and at times melancholy. Neutral colors like black, white, and shades of beige and brown can have a peaceful, grounding effect on the body and mind, which is why a bed like Moov from Piero Lissoni is perfect to craft an environment of rest and relaxation, and why Tokujin Yoshioka’s Element Table in white can add a crisp tranquility to the dining experience.   

Whether uncanny or eccentric, as with Gerrit Rietveld’s Utrecht chair in a regal purple, or classic and composed as with Marco Zanuso’s Lady armchair in a restorative and invigorating green, or vibrant and energizing like Shiro Kuramata’s Revolving Cabinet in dazzling red, designers have used color to accent homes with a fragrance that sculpts the moods and moments of life, understanding that each color possesses a unique ability to ignite varied emotions, and relates to images drawn from the annals of history and personal memories. Much of Paola Lenti’s early career was, for instance, involved in experimenting with pigments as crafting colors that would rouse the senses and breathe vivacity and sparkle into our daily routines, resulting in collections of indoor and outdoor furnishings that to this day remain alluring and seductive for their unique and gratifying hues. Brands like the highly celebrated and stalwart Kettal offers a range of colors for frames, tabletops, and cushions, to be arranged in ways that can be surprising and unique, as with the contrasting straps of color that embrace the cushions of Patricia Urquiola’s Roll chair, or sophisticated and tranquil, as with the muted natural tones of Doshi Levien’s Bela Lamp, which evokes the texture and lightness of handwoven lanterns.

By granting careful consideration to the colors that surround us, we craft striking narratives in environments that animate our lives with joy and serenity. Color can not only express the nuances of one’s personality, but it can also be used as a powerful communication tool to portend action and incite reactions in mood and physiology. While some universal associations with color do indeed exist, our personal preferences and individual experiences also affect our unique emotional and behavioral responses to color, so listen to that which excites and motivates you, and choose the simple yet sumptuous furnishings, ones that look beyond the complexity of each material, and color your life with pleasing impressions of contentment and wonder, striking and unique.

February 2024