Tips for Learning Color Intuition


TO interior designer Tricia Guild, color is "the ultimate expression of vitality."

Ms. Guild founded the London-based Designers Guild, which creates fabrics, wallpapers, and accessories for home design, many of which are featured in her book - part color celebration, part color study, and part company catalog. The book's photographs, taken by David Montgomery, are so vivid and appealing that you can look at them time and time again.

"People are becoming much more interested in color," Guild said during a phone interview from New York. "But at the same time they are hesitant. It's like a language; people are very nervous about using it, although they want to."

Why do other cultures seem to be more in tune with color than say, in North America? "It's part of their daily life," Guild observes. "It's more instinctive to them," she says, offering her observations of colorful dress in India, Central America, and the Caribbean, for example. "You see color mixtures that indicate a purer intuitive feeling."

In Western countries, the lack of bright color in office buildings and homes may have do with people's concern about "what's good taste" and so they do what's safe, most conservative, rather than what's most stimulating, Guild says. "It's much more boring to live with cream all the time ... it's really not too stimulating.... It's when you fall back on that, you don't have soul there to use pink, yellow, bright green."

As a designer, Guild knows that everyone has different responses to colors. "It's a very personal thing. You definitely have to understand about a person and find out about their color sensibilities."

Few people are born with an instinctive talent for using color, Guild maintains. It is a learned skill, where feeling rules over formula.

For anyone interested in exploring color, Guild suggests merely looking around - with a color consciousness. The best thing for people to do is start collecting examples that please them, she says: "making a scrapbook of things you really like, things you really like looking at; and finally getting groups [combinations] together." Tear out pages of magazines, keep samples, make collages. When you arrive at a group, keep looking at it and keep looking back at it to become familiar and more selective, she says.

"From there you become a little more confident and color becomes more exciting, actually."

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