From household gadgets to cars, and the world’s most incredible events, color often plays a central role. People talk in-depth about the colors of dresses on the red carpet (a shade of red that is highly controlled itself), we use color words to describe how we feel on certain days of the week (Monday blues), and color lets us know that we’re about to open a very nice gift (Tiffany blue jewelry boxes). In this post, we’re answering the question: what is color’s place in modern society?
Color is Trending
My daughter grabs my hand and pulls me toward a small bagel store at Chelsea Market in New York City. But it’s not your usual bagels. You can see the rainbow ones sitting on the top shelf, attracting attention from afar. It’s unexpected, fun and very photogenic. And it represents our culture and how we make choices nowadays.
There is something about experiencing bold colors and wanting to capture them. In the age of social media, color indeed is trending. “Social media is challenging food and drink manufacturers and foodservice operators to consider appearance as well as ingredients and flavor as key elements when creating a new food or drink,” says Jenny Zegler, associate director of Mintel Food & Drink, in Food Technology Magazine. “The appeal of appearance can bring in people and help a certain menu item or product ‘go viral’ based on its initial appearance or surprises included within the eating experience, such as color changing or unveiling of different layers of color.”
It’s not just food and drinks, though. Whimsical places and backgrounds attract people just as much as colorful bagels. New York City’s Color Factory – an interactive exhibition that opened in 2018 – became one of the most coveted spots thanks to its immersive rooms and experiences all full of color. The unconventional museum is full of backgrounds for visitors to snap fun, bold photos. In the city that is made of steel and glass, an oasis of bright colors stands out, speaks to people’s senses and makes the visit Instagram-worthy.
From the Movies We Watch…
We can be green with envy, we can decide to go on a trip out of the blue, and we can catch someone red-handed as they are stealing candies from the store. Color helps us describe how we feel and what we do, so it’s no surprise that color also plays an important role in the movies we watch.
Imagine, you are watching a horror movie and before a scene evolves, you have this feeling that something is about to happen. Why does this occur? Filmmakers rely on sound and visuals to convey the message and bring the emotion they want people to experience. Color plays one of the key roles in evoking these feelings. It can manipulate how the audience feels and make things so much more real as we absorb the scene on conscious and even subconscious levels.
Working with color in films is a subject that can spark a debate. There is no one right way to use hues in order to achieve the desired result. Red can translate as love and passion or can signal danger, violence and anger. Stanley Kubrick, one of the best film directors of all time, was known for his obsession over every small detail and is often praised for his genius use of color. You can read more about the use of color in his work here and here.
Another example is Pixar. For every cartoon that is produced, color is chosen with special care and respect. They work with color scripts – a working document that establishes which color combination relates to specific emotional touch-points of the story. The result is an audience that is captivated by what they see, feel and experience, since color has a way to transmit the message deep into the subconscious. Danielle Feinberg, a director of photography at Pixar, says about the Wall-E color scheme: “We realized very quickly that if we let things go too red — the clouds, the dust, the atmosphere — it began to look like Mars. We all seem to have this ingrained notion that red equals Mars. Every department is helping to tell the story, but here just small changes in the color of the lighting could have ruined everything’ by confusing the audience about something as basic as which planet the story is set on.”
…To the Cars We Drive…
Henry Ford supposedly said that “any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.” A century passed by, and black cars are the center of attention again, but for a different reason. Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, announced that black paint would no longer be a standard color option since it would cost more.
Whether standard or extra, both Ford and Musk have a certain bias around this particular shade of color. And this comes as no surprise. Car colors are often susceptible to bias: have you heard that red cars get pulled over more, while silver cars have better resale value? There is no real study to back up any of these statements, but they make potential buyers thoroughly weigh all pros and cons when deciding on the shade of their future vehicle.
… To Our Favorite Award Shows…
Another example of iconic color is the shade of the Oscars carpet. The term “red carpet” is associated with celebrities, Hollywood glamour and so ingrained in our culture that it alone can signal the status of the event without naming the event itself. Red carpets have become synonymous with sophisticated happenings from Cannes to LA, even when that familiar crimson hue of the carpet isn’t actually present. The Critics’ Choice Awards has blue carpet, for example, although it’s still referred as a red carpet in some media publications:
And of course, we can’t neglect the red carpet fashion with color being the center of attention over and over again.
From Tiffany blue to Ferrari red, colors are all around us. Next time you watch a movie, look for color cues and see how they make you feel. Once you dive deeper into the topic of color, there is no turning back. Our promise? Your life will be so much more interesting and captivating.
Want to learn more about the influence of color? Read the other posts in this series:
- Color and Sports Apparel: Exploring the Shades We Wear on Game Day and Beyond
- From Safety to Shopping: How Regulations on Color Impact Our Daily Lives