Monthly Archives: August 2011

yellow is the new red


I am not the world’s expert on fashion but it seems that red has been popular all through spring and summer. I first came across the surge in popularity of red last year when a journalist contacted me to ask my opinion as to why there had been an increase in sales of red kitchen and personal electronic equipment. We both agreed that probably the choice of red may be caused by consumers using colour choice to be bold and energetic in contrast to feeling tied down and depressed by the financial recession. I then listened to the podcast for Spring 2011 on Color Outlook and learned that red has been a popular colour for interior design this year right across the USA.
Now it seems that red has been a popular fashion colour all summer but is due to be replaced in the autumn (or the fall, as some people strangely call it) by yellow; another vibrant and positive colour. For further details see the Babble blog.

meanings of car colours

I came across another study on which colours sell best, commissioned by a car company of course. Turns out that in Canada the most popular is silver/grey (22.3%) with black second favourite.

But more interesting what the second part of the study which purported to reveal what your choice of car colour says about you:

Silver: “Since silver and grey are technical colours, they communicate a sense of aspiration and at times, an embrace of futurism.”

Black: “Overall black communicates strength, aspiration and a respect for the classic and the elegant.”

Blue: “Darker blue is perceived as more traditional. However, a bright or light blue is the opposite and is seen as the least ‘classic’ of the other colour groups.”

Red: “A colour which screams sporty and energetic but in certain shades can also be associated with distinction.”

White: “White is clean and modern. Premium specialty whites (also known as ‘tri-coat whites’) are also associated with luxury and ‘premium-ness,’

My experience of buying cars though is that though I may have a preference for buying a car of a certain colour, since I normally buy a second-hand one, in the end it is just what is available in the model I would like (or close to it) and the price I would like to pay (or just above it). My current car is black. My last one was grey. I have also had white and maroon in the last 10 years. So don’t read too much into it.


Just to let people know about an exciting colour conference taking place next year.

AIC 2012 “In Color We Live – Color and Environment”

Interim Meeting of the AIC, International Color Association

22-25 September 2012, Chinese Culture University, Taipei, Taiwan

For details, visit

odd coincidence

My name is Stephen Westland and my blog is called Colour Chat – because I like to chat (informally but hopefully in a way that is informed) about colour. Westland is a reasonably unusual name. Searching on google for my own blog today I noticed there is a company called Colourchat Services Ltd in Nairobi – guess what district they are in? Yes – Westlands. Coincidence or what? I wonder what this company does … perhaps they should sponsor this blog! Haha. 🙂

Why not green?

I am a scientist working in a design school who researches colour. I sometimes get frustrated by the simplistic view of colour and its use in branding, marketing and advertising pervades the internet (where anyone can be an expert). People often misinterpret my own work and imagine that all sorts of simplistic ideas stem from my research. So, for example, imagine that there is a company (that is aiming to deliver sustainable and environmentally responsible power) that is looking to brand itself and also imagine that my research reveals that the colour green is associated with the environment and nature. Typically people may say (or imagine that I would say) that it is obvious that the company should use the colour green as the basis of its branding strategy. However, this is a very simplistic view and one that I certainly don’t subscribe to.

When a company is constructing a branding strategy one has to consider many facets of the branding and marketing. What is the proposition that the company is making? How can colour support that or help to communicate it? A company may, for example, even may an ironic statement where it chooses colours and imagery that is the opposite of what it really stands for, just as an example. I quite enjoyed reading a post today by thebrandsquad that gave quite an intelligent and thoughtful analysis of colour in branding (using a case study rather like the fictitious example I refer to above).

See also Greenwashing –


Synesthesia is a neurologically based condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. People who report such experiences are known as synesthetes.

So, for example, people may involuntarily experience a colour whenever they see or think of a number. Many people with synesthesia use their experiences to aid in their creative process, and many non-synesthetes have attempted to create works of art that may capture what it is like to experience synesthesia. is a blog by Lauren who lives in the UK, has synaesthesia, and likes it!

color outlook

I was interested to come across Color Outlook today – – a website that offers advice on colour trends. They offer quarterly 60-minute long podcasts that contain advice and knowledge from a consortium of colour experts. I can’t comment on what is in the podcasts because unfortunately they are not free 🙂 However, the credentials of the experts seem impressive indeed; from interior designers, through architectural consultants and artists, to colour psychologists. Lori Sawaya is the name that I am most familiar with. I don’t know her well but she seems a friendly and genuine person.

Though the podcasts are not free, there is a free podcast on the history of colour forecasting and trends so I am going to see if I can get that and have a listen. I will let you know what I think.

colourful ants

Not sure what to say about this but I really like this picture. A scientist in India has experimented with ants whose transparent abdomens show the colour they have eating. He noticed they went white after drinking milk and then gave them sugar solutions coloured with different dyes. Apparently fond that ants preferred yellow and green solutions – perhaps these are better associated with sweetness. For the full story and some more great pictures see