Interior And The Architectural Design Cultural Studies Essay

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Color is not the property of objects, spaces, or surfaces; it is the sensation caused by certain qualities of light that the eye recognizes and the brain interprets. Therefore, light and color are inseparable, and, in the design of the human habitat, equal attention must be devoted to their psychological, physiological, visual, aesthetic, and technical aspects. (Frank H. Mahnke, 1996, P.2)

The term Color was known in our childhood. What we learnt is seven colors of rainbow, what is the color of apple, what is the color of the sky, colors of RGB, etc. All of above are very simple fact that we know about color. In fact, there are many kinds of academic knowledge about color that is from the past. Different colors have their own language. And also, different colors will give you different feeling and emotion. To study about interior and architectural design, the utilizing of colors can merit the design with depth meaning in concept and additional support in aesthetic, but not only the wonderful form and function.

Shape, distance, boundaries, contours, in short all the spatial relations and difference of objects appearing in space, are produced in painting only by color. Its more ideal principle is capable of representing to a more ideal content, and by its profound contrasts, infinitely varied modulations, transitions, and delicacies of arrangement it affords the widest possible scope for the softest nuances in presenting the wealth and particular characteristics of the objects to be selected for painting. It is incredible what color can real achieve in this way. (G.W.F. Hegal, 1975, P.810)

There are different kinds of interior space such as office space, home space, commercial space, retail space, etc., Owners of those space will base on their demand to apply different kinds of style on the interior space. Different mood will be generated by different combination of form, color, furniture and lighting. For example, design in red color will create an exciting, passionate, provocative and dynamic feeling. It commands attention and demands action. Furniture with traditional style brings out a classic, elegant and old feeling somehow. In Lighting, a chandelier in black color used as main light source in an interior space will bring out modern, retro and luxury feeling. Combination of above may generate totally different feeling. The environment will keep affecting people's emotion or characteristic if need to stay over there with a long period. Actually, it is a kind of medium to impact people and this medium can be used to affect people to have better quality of life.

Basically, design in different color will affect human in various way such as our mood, cogitation, emotion, preference, even life style. It is all about color psychology. In simple way, the selected color is used to create specific style or mood for interior and architectural design. Besides, using of color may include a depth meaning by designer. It is mainly used in marketing for their presentation and selling point of products.

"With every particular architectural product is the spontaneous emotional reaction that is of importance to us." (Lindstrom, quoted in Hesselgren)

The research and analysis of "color use in interior and architectural design" will explore the culture of color use in different country and their meaning of using color in interior and architectural design.


From restaurants and retail spaces to offices and residences, no architectural design is truly finished until the color is assigned. When you look at the wealth of new building materials available today, it's easy to see that architects and design professionals are faced with more choice than ever before. (Harold Linton, 1999, cover)

In the space we are living, there are plenty of buildings and interior spaces. The use of colors in interior and architectural design will bring out a different mood and architectural effect to human. In different country or continent, different style and combination of colors are used. The habitual of color selections by different ethnic group of people are based on their culture and traditions. Those buildings assigned with different color are including a particular meaning to different nationalism. This research will investigate the color culture of some country by their traditional and habitual of color use in interior and architectural design.

Color is like oxygen. It is a force of nature. It is the neon signs of Las Vegas, the brilliant pink stucco walls of Mexico, the luscious red roof of the Duomo in Florence, the shimmering blue tiles of a mosque in Jerusalem. In its brilliance, color defies any attempts to legislate or stylize away. (Oscar Riera Ojeda & James McCown, 2004, P.12)

According to above paragraph, the importance of color is affecting around the world. Every country or main city is containing its unique characteristics and culture. The application of color is a kind of media to express the spirit and culture of the country. Color is a source of fascination. Color use in interior and architectural design in every place completely revealed the characteristic to the world. To study the meaning of color selection, color symbolism study act as an aid to interpret the depth meaning and culture of country. It is a kind of invisible color. It is drifted into metaphysics. Color use in interior and architectural design is profound knowledge. Color is selected under various consideration and expression of meaning. Color can impress human, even it may not have the same effect to different people. Color is not only used for aesthetic, it also creates a space for people to have different sensation. It affect people's mood, emotional and establishing culture.


a) Newton's Theory of Color

Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1726), mathematician and physicist, one of the foremost scientific intellects of all time. He is the first to understand the rainbow - he refracts white light with a prism, resolving it into its component colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet. He set up a prism near his window, and projected a beautiful spectrum 22 feet onto the far wall. Further, to prove that the prism was not coloring the light, he refracted the light back together. Artists were fascinated by Newton's clear demonstration that light alone was responsible for color. His most useful idea for artists was his conceptual arrangement of colors around the circumference of circle which, allowed the paints' primaries (red, yellow, blue) to be arranged opposite their complementary colors (e.g. red opposite green), as a way of denoting that each complementary would enhance the other's effect through optical contrast. This circular diagram became the model for many color systems of the 18th and 19th centuries. Claude Boutet's painter's circle of 1708 was probably the first to be based on Newton's circle.

According to the above paragraph, it is known that Sir Isaac Newton defined color in physical way. Newton did an experiment to show the rainbow's color appeared by using the prism from a white light source. The arrangement of colors was shown naturally. The result profound the sense of colors are from red to violet or the order of warm color to cool color. The white light source produced by the sun, and black color as a representative of darkness. It is become a common sense of color till now.

b) Goethe's Theory of Color

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) was both a writer and a scientist. Until Goethe redefined about color, no one had questioned the validity of Newton's idea about light and color. His 1,400-page treatise on color was published in 1810. Goethe had another point of view in the topic of color. Newton had viewed color as a physical problem, involving light striking objects and entering our eyes. Goethe realizes that the sensations of color reaching our brain are also shaped by our perception. Therefore, according to Goethe, what we see of an object depends upon the object, the lighting and our perception. Goethe's theory is dominated by the sense of dark tonalities and shadows. He observed that shadow is the proper element of color, and in this case a subdued color approaches it, lighting up, tingering, and enlivening it.

Goethe's Theory of Color is keen on sensation of scenes. He searched for the ways of how the colors affect human and subjective visual phenomena in general. Goethe studied afterimages, colored shadows and complementary colors. He appreciates that the sensation of complementary colors does not originate physically from the actions of light on our eyes but perceptually from the action of our visual system.