Tatler Talks: How Colour can Improve Your Home Design and Well-being
Colour plays a huge role in any design. A universal visual language, colour holds the ability to alter and influence one’s mood.
To better understand the flair and craft of using vibrant hues and patterns, Tatler Homes Singapore and French furniture brand Roche Bobois co-hosted a virtual event with Design Intervention’s founder Nikki Hunt and co-CEO Andrea Savage. Known for their savvy ability to inject colour seamlessly into spaces, this latest edition of Tatler Talks delved into the significance of colour with the two experts.
Moderated by Kissa Castañeda, Tatler Asia’s editorial director for homes and travel, the virtual talk was held at the Roche Bobois Singapore showroom and was broadcasted via Zoom.
“Colour is one of our favourite tools to use to craft a space,” Hunt remarks. “Now, more than ever before, if we’re having those horrible days where we’ve been stuck in traffic or we’ve had an argument with a friend; we want to come home, shut that door on the outside world and have our own sanctuary. Colour, space and light are all design tools.”
Below, we share the key takeaways and tips from these seasoned designers.
1/4 The science of colour
To understand how to use colour, you first have to understand the science behind colour.
“I thought the event title (The Science of Colour) was so apt,” says Hunt as she addresses the physics behind colour. “Colour is light energy; each different colour is a different wavelength of energy. When different wavelengths (of light) enter our eyes, it does two things. One, it’s obvious, we use our eyes to see... But something else happens. Light also triggers a different part of the brain. It triggers a part of our brain that regulates our hormones, that affects our mood, respiratory rate, heart rate, and how we feel. Different colours affect parts of the brain in different ways... We can use that information to craft an environment to make us feel better.”
Hunt then draws on the example of the installation of blue lights in several Tokyo metro stations in Japan. Suicide rates dropped by 74 per cent after the soothing shades were built to deter passengers from jumping off. “For us, we try and use this knowledge and science as one part (of design),” she says.
Different colours affect parts of the brain in different ways... We can use that information to craft an environment to make us feel better.
— Nikki Hunt
2/4 Trending hues
The duo’s expertise with colour in their projects was acknowledged by Dulux when they were invited to participate in the jury's selection of Dulux’s 2021 colour of the year. “We were very honoured to be invited to be part of the panel in the first place,” says Savage, on the colour selection process.
“We represented Asia along with some esteemed designers from this region. We sat down with a panel of experts around the world in various fields, and we (took a) look and discuss how we can potentially see the world in two years’ time from now—where we might be moving, and how colour can embrace support and be a guiding and illuminating factor for that year.”
“The movement towards brown now is that it’s providing a home foundation,” says Savage, elaborating on Brave Ground, the Dulux Colour of the Year. “It’s giving you that support and renewal, so you feel that you can open the front door and go on to face the world. Brown has taken on a completely different philosophy; (not just on) the sustainability aspect.”
“As mothers, we realised that when our kids are sick or feeling low—even as grown-ups now—they want their mother. And it's exactly the same as adults; as adults, our mother is Mother Nature,” Hunt continues. “We’ve got the pandemic, climate change, global political uncertainty; this is the most uncertain times that many of us have ever lived in. Reaching for a nurturing, soothing, supportive colour just makes perfect sense.”
(Related: 17 Ways To Decorate With The Pantone Colour of the Year 2021)
The movement towards brown now is that it’s providing a home foundation. It’s giving you that support and renewal, so you feel that you can open the front door and go on to face the world. Brown has taken on a completely different philosophy.
— Andrea Savage, Co-CEO of Design Intervention
3/4 Light it right
Injecting colour into a space isn’t a straightforward process, but Hunt encourages one to think outside the box. “To give a colourful metaphor: it’s not black and white, it’s shades of grey. It just means that it’s all about the balance. If you have one colour, it’ll look very different depending on the light that comes into the room. It’ll look very different depending on the associate colours that are next to it, whether it intensifies or calms it down.”
Savage agrees, highlighting the importance of interweaving different design tools such as texture. “I think a layered space in an interior is so important. It gives it multi-dimension,” she says.
“Design is multi-sensory. We work with texture, space and light to stimulate so many senses, to create that environment,” Hunt continues. “I think it’s a misconception to think that colour means bright. There are tones, and I think it depends on what you like.”
To give a colourful metaphor: it’s not black and white, it’s shades of grey... it’s all about the balance.
— Nikki Hunt, principal of Design Intervention
The duo draws on an example from a project of theirs: a Bangkok penthouse featuring several Roche Bobois pieces. “I think on its own, grey can be too cold,” says Hunt on the colour scheme of the bachelor’s pad.
“Psychologically, it’s shown to give feelings of depression if it’s used too much. Here, we’ve balanced it with yellow, which is the most uplifting hue. We wanted something that was calm, because it was a bedroom, but not serious. The Roche Bobois pieces are interesting. They’re unexpected, but in white, they’re still very calm and gentle. It was a perfect pairing for this room.”
(Related: Home Tour: Design Intervention Transforms A Penthouse Bachelor Pad In Bangkok)
4/4 Easy tips for the colour-shy
For those who are dipping their toes into exploring colour, Savage advises: “I think one of the most important things is to know what you like and be true to it. That’s a great starting place. Don’t always go for the trends. Trends come and go and eventually, you get tired of them yourself.”
“I think just exploring that (colourful) side of you, and to not be afraid of changing your mind,” she continues. “Just because you make an initial decision, if it’s not right for you, (it’s okay to) change your mind until you find that balance.”
(Related: 5 Colourful Bedrooms that are Decor Goals)
Hunt echoes Savage’s tip. “I think finding out what you love, as Andrea said earlier, is most important. One thing I often say to clients: go into your closet and have a look. People are naturally drawn to certain colours. What do you normally buy? Take out a lovely scarf or shirt and put it over your sofa. Look at it and lean with it, or wrap it around your cushion and see how it makes you feel,” she says. “Colour is a very powerful tool (and) one that’s fun to use.”
To gain more insight and tips from Design Intervention, watch the entire talk below: