Blog/How do we experience color and light?
Reading time 2 min

How do we experience color and light?

Color is a natural phenomenon. It is the product of the refraction, reflection and absorption of light. But color is even more: It is a genetic factor in the origin and diversification of life on earth. Colors are an important means of orientation for innumerable forms of life. They are a means of communication, they reflect social needs, and are even a part of our socio-cultural communication. In pre-modern times, the social order was communicated not only in the materials which were used in architecture, but also by the colors inside and outside of the buildings. For Le Corbusier, colors had the same importance as a layout plan. Today, more and more architects use color in their work. Architects, artists and designers rely on colors as an important part of their creativity, but also use them to create rooms where people can feel comfortable or work more creatively or productively – thus also fostering innovation.

Colors influence how we feel
But how do we define color? The Swiss artist and art theoretician Johannes Itten has contributed to our understanding of color theory – and arranged the colors in the form of a circle. Inside this ring, we find the primary colors: red, yellow and blue. In a second ring, he places the secondary colors: orange, green and violet. Finally, within the outer ring, we find the tertiary colors – those colors which are the result of mixing a primary and a secondary color. If you add the effect of warm and cold colors to this, we can clearly recognize how colors influence our feelings. Cold colors such as blue or green let us feel the temperature colder than it is. In addition, they slow down the circulation of our blood. This is why we feel more comfortable in red, orange or brown rooms than in green, blue or grey ones.

Go ahead, grab some colored pencils and get back to the days of childhood and experiment a bit with the colors. Try out which colors suit your current mood best – and what happens if you deliberately choose another color. If you want to learn more about color theory, please read our Whitepaper.

Johannes Itten