Color-person-environment relationships

Smith, Dianne J. (2008) Color-person-environment relationships. Color Research and Application, 33(4), pp. 312-319.

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Although the nature of colour and the person environment relationship are both well documented, it is posited that both domains need to be integrated to understand the active role that colour plays in the relationship between a person and the surrounding environment. The colour person environment relationship (COL-PE) introduced in this paper is an important theoretical concept for designers, and as a consequence, for environmental-colour researchers to investigate.

The potential of colour to be an active agent in the relationship between people and environments is introduced by drawing upon what is known about colour and the person environment relationship from other sources. The nature of transition spaces is used to emphasise how colour affects the emotional connection and disconnection between people and spaces As an example of COL-PE, transition spaces highlight the nature of the person who is also psychologically in-transition and colour as a potentially important aspect of the transitory experience. In addition, the connections between colour and the constructs that we hold of the people who visit, work, or live in particular environments will be discussed briefly.

Designers often focus on the object or artefact which is being coloured (whether a building or a chair) as an end in itself, without considering in any depth how the designed objects or places can influence how people experience their daily activities and each other. COL-PE is introduced as a means to address this omission and broaden designers’ understandings of the potential impact of their work. The discussion of the aspects of environmental design (with particular reference to architecture and interior design), introduces the foundation of the colour-person-environment relationship (COL-PE) as a particular way of addressing colour in the built environment.

The principles of COL-PE are relevant for a range of disciplines involved in environmental design including urban design, landscape architecture, interior design, industrial design, and architecture. The colour-person-environment relationship (COL-PE) aims to make explicit what is often an unrecognised or tacit understanding of the role of environmental colour, and thereby, the paper highlights the need for research to understand the relationship more fully.

Impact and interest:

3 citations in Scopus
1 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 13750
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: colour, person, environment, built environment, design, architecture
DOI: 10.1002/col.20424
ISSN: 1520-6378
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > ARCHITECTURE (120100) > Interior Design (120106)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Design
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2008 John Wiley & Sons
Copyright Statement: The definite version is available on publication at
Deposited On: 12 Jun 2008 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:43

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