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Colour psychology

"My favourite colour is a soft hue of "complete wholeness“ but I often also feel attracted by colours like "living space“ or a fascinating tint of "subconsciousness".
Jaques Versery

The impact of colour on the human psyche

Colours and their effects determine our lives today.
All advertising, every item in the supermarket, every poster, every single object plays with colour: unlike our ancestors, we are all permanently surrounded by colours. Only for a few decades has the industry been able to generate millions of colour shades by means of artificial pigments and to use these for products and materials in our modern world.

It is known to scientists that colours have a major effect on the human psyche. We all know that red stands for danger and tells us to be cautious, as some of our traffic signs in everyday life indicate.
Yellow/black is not only the body of wasps but often an indication of poison, a fact also demonstrated by many hazard signs.

We use the suggestive power of the colours surrounding us and are able, in our role as designers of interiors and products, not only to play with the impact of colours but also to create positive energy if we harmonise the effects of colours on the use of living and working areas.

Colour effects


  • Creates peace and strength
  • Inhibits appetite
  • Has a soothing and appeasing effect in case of overstimulation, nervous twitches and hot flushes
  • Helps with insomnia; accelerates wound healing; imparts high sensitivity and consistency
  • Stands for faithfulness and romanticism; Goethe: feeling of longing

Appeasing blue:

Positive in wellness areas, bedrooms and relaxation rooms


  • Relieves fears; brings cheerfulness and creates a feeling of sunlight
  • Stimulates communication and boosts brain activity
  • Activates the abdominal centre, aids digestion and stimulates appetite
  • Supports mental activity

Activating yellow:

Recommended for schools, lecture halls, studies, lobbies, reception rooms, business premises


  • Represents feelings, love, passion, sexuality, dynamics but also anger, aggression and hatred
  • Red is power and energy. Our blood is our body's energy source. One instantly feels the warmth of red when entering a red room.
  • Red objects are visually detected faster than objects in other colours (orientation reflex).
  • Red represents competence, renewal, the creative spark of life.
  • Excessive red may increase blood pressure.

Strong red:

Red should never fill an entire room. Several walls or one wall at best suffice to obtain the impact of red. Red is ideal for adding a special touch and for giving directions (wall towards reception area). Red is largely unsuitable for bedrooms.


  • "Green is the colour of hope” - but there is a lot more to it. This almost universally applicable colour stands for life, nature and naturalness, for the Green Party, for tranquillity and youth, for growth and regeneration.
  • A walk in nature offers us recreation, freshness and harmony. Green radiates calm, peace and protection.

Soothing green:

Green is the ideal colour for children’s rooms and waiting rooms as it has a soothing effect.

Green can be used for coatings in many hues, but be careful: green colour shades with an excessive proportion of blue easily become cold, and certain green shades can also look "unhealthy" (bilious green).

Wibke Schaeffer

Kindly supported by
architect Wibke Schaeffer, Lichte Art, Cologne.

For more information, advice on optimum colour selection or seminars and workshops on colour psychology, please contact Wibke Schaeffer on .