Ever wondered how interior designers find the perfect colour combination?

Our interior designer Emily attended a great course on colour theory recently at KLC Design College at the Design Centre Chelsea Harbour in London. Titled Power of Colour, it delved into the psychology of colour, the science of colour, as well as pigmentation and colour mixing. We caught up with Emily to find out more!

The course was attended by interior designers, both qualified and in training, along with a couple of people renovating their own properties. With some attending from other countries, Emily spent the four days of the course with a wonderful, diverse group of people sharing a passion for interiors.

The Power of Colour Workshop, Chelsea Harbour Design Centre

Colour psychology

The psychology of colour is a fascinating topic, all about what different colours make people feel and why you would use certain colours in different environments.

During the course, the group was tasked with using software to do a colour breakdown of all the different tints, tones, and shades in an image, before determining what each colour makes a person feel. Once the colours were extracted, they then created a room colour scheme from those colours.

In a case study shared on the course, a nursery was painted different colours and the children’s behaviour observed in each environment. When the nursery was painted red, around 80% of the children ended up fighting, whereas only 7% fought when it was painted blue. This staggering example just goes to show the huge impact that colour can have on what how think, feel and behave.

The course delved into ways you can manipulate colour to get the result and effect you want to create; a principle we incorporate into our interior design work to help bring our clients’ visions to life.

Colour theory in interior design

The science of colour

Another interesting learning point was the science of colour. Colour is not inherently in an object; rather the surface of the object reflects some colours and absorbs the others. We perceive only the colours that are reflected.

For example, a green apple doesn’t contain ‘green’. The surface of the apple reflects the wavelengths we see as green and absorbs the rest. An object appears white when it reflects every wavelength and black when it absorbs them all.

There are also various terms that come up in colour theory, such as hue, value, tint, shade, and tone. They may all seem to refer to the same thing (colour!), but there are subtle differences.

A hue is a pure colour, without any white or black added to it.

Value refers to the brightness of a colour, or how light or dark.

A tint is created when you add white to a pure hue.

A tone is created when you add grey to a pure hue.

A shade is created when you add black to a pure hue.

Here’s an example of what a tint, tone and shade of pure blue could look like. Applying these principles in interior design work by incorporating different tints, shades and tones is a great way to create more colour palette variation.

Colour Theory

Complementary colours

The course also covered complementary colours, a key consideration in any interiors project. The basis of colour theory is the colour wheel, which arranges colours by their natural electromagnetic wavelengths and shows the relationship between colours. Complementary colours are pairs of colours on opposite sides of the colour wheel, which together provide a high contrast and make each other look brighter.

To put this into context, in the residential project shown below, Emily created a split complementary colour scheme using tones of red, orange, and green. As complementary colours, these tones contrast nicely and go together well.

Fun fact… as a tint of red, did you know that pink is the only tint of a colour that has its only colour name?

When it comes to colour in interior design, the options are endless. This is what makes it such an interesting area of work, as each project will yield a unique result to precisely match the client’s brief.

Interior Design, CMS Architects

Trend forecasting

Have you ever wondered how paint brands such as Dulux choose their Colour of the Year? Well, it turns out this process is extremely long and complex!

Trend forecasting is the process of using market research and consumer data to predict the future direction of something, in this case colour choices. It’s a useful way for designers to gain insight into current trends and preferences, thus helping them to create products that meet clients’ future needs and preferences.

Each year, Dulux hosts a Trend Forecast and asks a panel of international design experts to share their insights on what will be influencing the way we live in the years to come. In-depth global research is conducted, after which Dulux responds with a colour that matches where the world is heading. This year’s Dulux Colour of the Year is ‘seeds of wonder’, a natural tone that connects us with nature, so named to encapsulate the transformative power nature offers.

It’s fascinating the amount of research and work that goes into trend forecasting. What do you think the next colour trend will be?

Colour palettes

So there we have it. A recap of four brilliant days spent Chelsea Harbour’s Design Centre. There is so much to learn in the field of interior design, and we love incorporating this knowledge into our projects! If you would like support on your interior design project, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.