I’m Scared of Color. And It’s Making Me Sick.
This is serious, Mom.
Yes, indeed. I have a little-known infliction art nerds call “Chromophobia.” Chances are, you do too.
The prognosis came after listening to this podcast.
In it, Design Matters host, Debbie Millman, interviews designer and author Ingrid Fetell Lee about her recent book, Joyful; The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness.
Lee, former Design Director of IDEO New York, has a lot to say about color (hear her TED talk, check out her website, The Aesthetics of Joy). She claims that Western Society has a long history of making color seem uncool. She cites Goethe...
“Two hundred years ago Goethe wrote in his Theory of Colours that “savage nations, uneducated people, and children have a great predilection for vivid colours,” but that “people of refinement avoid vivid colours in their dress and the objects that are about them, and seem inclined to banish them altogether from their presence.”- Ingrid Fetell Lee (Ode to Joy...)
She cites artist and author of Chromophobia David Batchelor...
“Color represents a kind of space not bound by rationality, not bound by good sense and logic and order... Color is often seen as feminine rather than masculine, as infantile rather than grown-up.” - David Batchelor, HENI Talks (a bit dry, but a great “talk” if you get a sec)
She cites her own lived experience...
“For most of my life, I thought about my color choices through the lens of what they said about me. Did I have the guts to rock red shoes? Would a pink dress make people take me less seriously? Perhaps that’s why I so often ended up with white furniture and black clothes.” - Ingrid Fetell Lee (Joyful...)
This sounds real familiar. I mean, I wear this uniform.
I’ve obviously got the symptoms.
And, according to Lee, there are big time side effects. No color = no JOY!
“We’ve come to dismiss color as childish and frivolous, prizing neutral hues as a mark of coolness and mature taste. That belief has left us in a place where we feel almost ashamed to have color in our lives.” - Ingrid Fetell Lee (Joyful...)
She makes some real compelling connections between color and joy. She argues that color is an indication of life, of something being alive, and that we are naturally, biologically, drawn to living things. She draws upon research on depression and the built environment and shares work by contemporary artists designers who are trying to infuse the world with color and, thus, joy.
“I’ve spent the last decade studying joy. From the beginning, it was clear that the liveliest places and things all had one thing in common: bright, vivid color. Whether it’s a row of houses painted in bold swathes of candy hues or a display of colored markers in a stationery shop, vibrant color sparks a feeling of delight.” -Ingrid Fetell Lee (Joyful...)
Delight? I could use some of that!
So, the treatment is clear: a daily dose of color.
I’ll hold my nose if I have to, but dammit, I’m digesting that joy!!!
Join me, Mom! Let’s cure chromophobia by making color cool!
But what do I know?
Diagnose yourself, mom...
Check out Aesthetics of Joy
Watch Lee’s TED Talk