Color in architecture plays an important role in how we perceive the structure or space. Some color is seen differently depending on your age. Children tend to associate colors with emotion. Bright colors are associated with happiness, while dark colors are saddening. Babies and toddlers tend to favor bright red as their favorite color, which changes to yellow as they approach the age of ten. As the child approaches their teenage years color preferences become sophisticated (In color theory, “sophisticated” describes a color created by a complex mixture of pigments.) As a person ages we start to see tones of red as a hue of yellow. These are all color theory principles which an architect should utilize during the project design to benefit the client and the end user of the space.
The color palette of a design should vary according to the user’s age or generation. For instance, if you are designing a day care you want to incorporate warm bright values of color, especially red for ages 1-5, and bright yellow for ages 5-10. Another aspect architect’s often think about is whether a target generation will be primarily using the space. If a retail store has a target generation born from 1900-1946 you would tend to stay away from using what the digital generation (1997-2000) prefers, which is black and white.
The list below states color preferences by generation. Many of these preferences are directly related to technology advances in industrial design of that time period.
- Digital Generation: Born 1997-2000 – prefer black and white over primary colors.
- Millennial Generation: Born 1981-1997 – prefer complex and dark colors.
- Generation X: Born 1965-1980 – prefer rough colors.
- Baby Boomers: Born 1946-1964 – prefer bold, bright colors.
- Prime Timers: Born 1900-1946 – prefer soft, pastel colors.
Color carries universal symbolism like red meaning stop, yet in homogeneous cultures color symbolism is very common as well. Below are examples of diverse cultures and what they relate that color too.
Color can also be used to create an identity in your local community or our society at large. In society at large many of our retail clients such as Payless, and Starbucks can often be associated with a logo, and that logo is branded with a color.
JL Architects uses color to enhance our designs aesthetically, and psychologically. If you have never seen our office, drive by and you will see a perfect example! We often tell our clients on their way to the office to “just look for the orange building that looks like an architect’s office.” They never seem to have trouble finding us!
– Nathan Houser