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COLOUR

MELANIE NEUHAUS - WORDS ABOUT COLOUR



Melanie Neuhaus — Neuhaus Architektur
Words about colour


A couple of words about colour? Maybe a suggestion on how to find the right one? That should be possible, I thought, after being asked whether I wanted to write something on this topic or another one, and I quickly settled on ‘colour(s)’. Colour is simple and interesting. Interesting yes. But simple? By no means; that soon became clear to me.

That became immediately apparent with the question, “How do I approach this topic?” From what point of view? Physical? Psychological? Historical, cultural, religious, artistic, ...? The topic of colour has almost as many aspects as there are colours, and it comes as no surprise that there is also a definition according to DIN (5033), which says the following: “Colour is the visual sensation of a part of the field of vision which appears structureless to the human eye, through which this part can only be differentiated by a likewise structureless adjacent area viewed at the same time through a single point of observation with an unmoved eye.” Aha. Got it? That can’t be stated more neutrally, can it? In my opinion, the special thing about colours is precisely that they are never neutral.

One thing is certain: Everything we see has a colour. Colour is always linked to a body, to an object, to material. It doesn’t simply appear. It needs a conduit. And all of us can observe something every day: The perception of colour is not always the same; it changes depending on the light situation, surface and the context in which it appears to us. Colours constantly surround us, lead us through our visible world, and shape us and our surroundings. Along the way, everyone has developed his own individual reference to colour(s), which is built on memories, experiences, preferences and inclinations, is very emotional and can thoroughly change during the course of a human life.

Have you ever tried to verbally convey a colour impression to someone, on the telephone for example? It is almost impossible. If I am talking about pea green or fire red, the other person surely has a notion of this colour; however the probability that we mean the same red or green is infinitesimal. Perception is very subjective. How can we then make certain use of such an uncertain thing?

When dealing with colour, people generally lack the experience and more often the knowledge of its effects. In the event that a conscious discussion takes place at all, colours and materials are still often used without thought and consideration for context, and in the best case with the desire to achieve decorative effects. For architects and builders, private residential buildings and interior design are always very personal. Who hasn’t heard sentences like “I’ll ask my wife about that, she has a feel for colours, she decides from her gut.” Such intuitive decisions, however, should not be underestimated since they are made on the basis of personal observations and perceptions. However, they often make it difficult to understand what the final product should look like. With colour we can support an idea for a room. Colours enhance but also detract from a room. It is extremely important to not only make the decision on an emotional level, but rather with consideration and the help of ‘cultivated’ taste, light, place and space.

There is a wealth of literature that attributes a trend, a symbolism and /or an ambience to colour at the same time. Such templates, colour rules and colour collections often serve as supposed support. Why not put ourselves in the middle of the search for the ‘right’ colour? What colour means calmness to me and which one means chaos? Is red really the colour of love for me? What colour did I really like as a child and what does it remind me of? Would I like to eat green-coloured bread? What colours calm me down and where would I like to see them? Can colours bite and sting? Do I classify colours with smells and noises? ...

As always, one thing is certain: working with colour(s) will never be colourless…

Architect Melanie Neuhaus founded her architectural firm Neuhaus Architektur in Düsseldorf in 2007 and primarily works on ‘planned maintenance’, construction on existing buildings, refurbishing old buildings as well as renovations, additions and new construction.

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