• Adrian Ramsay

Colour Theory 1: What we can learn from the multi-coloured city in the Ukraine


Adrian Ramsay
Photo: den-belitsky/Getty Images

The bold choice to disperse colour across Kyiv has led to an influx of new visitors wanting to see the utopia they’ve observed in photos online. In February 2020, it was reported that more than 200 houses were selling per month – the highest rate in Ukraine. Such large results were perhaps unexpected by the architects, who made quite minimal changes to the original buildings from an architectural perspective.

Whilst the design choice to rely solely on colour is simple, it is definitely deliberate. In fact, there is a whole field of study dedicated to drawing links between colour and human emotion.

Colour Psychology derives from the notion that “Unconscious or otherwise, colour can evoke emotions, inspire reactions, and change modes of thinking”.

It’s surprising that designers and architects often forget the power of colour, instead focusing on new minimalist techniques. Karen Haller, the UK’s leading Colour Psychology expert explains, “colour is often the forgotten part of the picture”, and people forget the positive impact it can have on society.

Author Ingrid Fetell Lee did a phenomenal ted talk addressing how colour “cuts across lines of age, gender and ethnicity” and reminds us of our shared humanity. Lee describes joy as an “intangible feeling” that can be induced by colour due to its “sense of abundance and multiplicity” and symbolic nature as a “sign of life…a sign of energy”.

As the power of colour becomes so recognised in design, there are emerging non-for-profits dedicated to spreading joy by painting local communities.

One of these is Project Colour, a group that is “transforming environments through optical optimism” by bringing colour to community buildings and schools across the US.


Adrian Ramsay
Photo: http://www.projectcolorcorps.org/community-projects

The group received feedback from teachers at the transformed schools, reporting that students were more interested, productive and happy after the changes were made.

Perhaps this is why Comfort Town has grown to a population of 20,000 people – a 6,000 person increase from 2019 alone. And, there are other success stories too.

A small town in Spain called Juzcar began to attract thousands of tourists every year after every building was painted blue. Additionally, a project called Let's Colour led to the rainbow painting of small town Kuşadası, which allowed locals to open booming cafés, flower stores, and craft shops.

Designers and architects should never forget the power of colour. This doesn’t mean it should be dispersed in areas randomly, but rather used as a deliberate tool to evoke emotion, comfort and joy. In the midst of emerging trends like industrialised styles, smart homes and exposed steel, we should remain steadfast on what makes people smile – colour.


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