Vivid Colour – Blueprint for Living

Radio National program – Blueprint for Living – Vividness

As a designer and evidence-based colour consultant, I was interviewed by Jonathan Green on his Radio National program: Blueprint for Living – Vividness.  Jonathan delved into art, science and psychology of colour, and especially Vividness. I was interviewed along with Lawrence Johnston (documentary filmmaker: ‘Neon’), Andrew Walsh (festival director and artistic director White Night Melbourne); Toni Risson (social history expert).

Events like White Night Melbourne and Vivid Sydney echo the ways in which colour has a positive impact in the built environment:

  • Colour humanises the built environment, adds humour, breaks down barriers and encourages engagement.
  • Colour enlivens and reactivates the built environment especially dark or neglected places – underused plazas, laneways, back alleys and can turn these precincts into more popular areas.
  • Colour can also support initiatives like roadbed saturated-colour supergraphics such as the large dots on Shortland Street, Auckland, aimed at traffic calming and pedestrian safety.

 Children love bright colours:

  • Children are attracted to highly saturated and contrasting colours – toys, clothing, lollies.
  • Colour is often used to personalise items for children as it is an ideal non-verbal signifier.
  • Colour and more increasingly saturated colour is being incorporated into buildings for children – child care centres interiors and exteriors.
  • Colour supergraphics have also become more prevalent in healthcare environments as they help to minimise children’s anxiety and fear. Great examples include Morag Myerscough’s supergraphics at Sheffield Childrens Hospital.

Colour can add a sense of excitement, drama and helps create a sense of place

  • Events such as White Night Festival, Vivid Sydney, Amsterdam Light festival, Water Colour cruises through the canals, Nuit Blanche, Paris.
Evidence-based information and colour strategies
  • Strong colour/contrast (and movement) are key visual detector elements and can be used to advantage in design and the built environment.
  • Red has attentional advantage over other hues (FYI: colour has three attributes: hue, tonal value and saturation).
  • In the West, a woman in red attracts attention from the male of the species – it’s just as important as facial symmetry and waist/hips ratio

Responses to colour are impacted by a range of different factors:

  • Individual factors – age, gender, personal preferences
  • Cultural and social conditioning regarding ideas/beliefs about colour
  • Context – eg red has a variety of meanings depending on context (lipstick, car, stop sign, political paraphenalia)
  • The influence of surrounding colour impacts colour perception – simultaneous contrast effect
  • Changes over time – colour trends

Listen to the radio interview here

Visit Blueprint for Living on Radio National, click here.




  1. March 18, 2018 / 11:23 am

    Great article, the “Responses to colour are impacted by a range of different factors” section is very interesting.

    • July 30, 2018 / 2:06 pm

      Thank you, Jacqueline – I’m glad you enjoyed the article.