A Guide to Hotel Design Pt 20: Colour in Interiors

    A Guide to Hotel Design Pt 19 showed there are basic design and aesthetic rules on the use of colour. With the move back to pattern and colour from the off-white minimalism of the last decade or so, it seems appropriate to take a fresh look at some of these rules.

    Artists revel in colour and its power. You only have to sit in front of a Monet to realize the powerful emotional tug colour can have. His abstracted use of colour through his ‘Water Lilies’ series and the observational changes he records through series such as the ‘Haystacks’ show the power of colour to change perceptions. This work has continued to be exploited and extended through the work of artists such as Bridget Riley and Dan Flavin.

    This very power makes the misuse of colour an abuse of the viewer. Professional designers are often guilty of colour misapplication and poor taste, creating violent clashes or room schemes that do not support the room’s function. It’s not as if the rules of colour are new. Goethe first expounded a printed theory of colour many centuries ago, and related colour to emotions. The Greek and Romans had symbolic meanings for colour in earlier millennia, some of which are still at the base of the theories of colour taught in art schools.

    Artists like Klee and Albers, and pedagogues such as Itten worked with designers closely at the various iterations of the Bauhaus in developing theories of colour in interiors, carpets etc., some of the effects of which are only lately being revealed through the work of the restoration groups on Bauhaus properties in Germany. Yet despite this research, and the teaching of colour theory in art college across the world, ignorance in the use of colour continues to be displayed.