When you start with a blank canvas, empty palette, or even an empty room it is sometimes hard to figure out what direction in color you really want to take. This is true for both the artist and the interior designer. A great place to start is by understanding the basics of color…..
Primary Colors, Secondary Colors, Tertiary Colors, Complimentary Colors, Analogous Colors, are all basic color schemes in design. Depending on the tone or shade of each color that you desire, you can achieve different overall looks in your room by combining these color schemes with basic interior design principles.
The type of design work that you do will often determine what you consider as primary colors. As an artist, you are taught that RED, YELLOW, and BLUE are Primary Colors. These are sets of colors that can be combined to make a useful range of many colors. Primary Colors have always been the most basic and common color combination in design.
Primary Colors have been influencing the Art, Architecture, and Interior Design Worlds for over a century. Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg were artists that influenced the early 20th century. Their attention to color and design created a movement known as the “De Stijl” Movement, which focused on the primary colors, black and white, and gray tones. This Movement would change the way we look at modern architecture and would give us a new insight on interior design by using simple colors.
Theo van Doesburg
Other Architecture and Designs Influenced by the Primary Color Scheme
The “De Stijl”, meaning “the style” in Dutch, was created in the 1920’s and promoted the artistic philosophy that formed a basis for the group’s work known as neoplasticism — the new plastic art . The use of primary color made this movement timeless. Currently, the market for this look is still highly in demand. This movement has created an unlimited amount of accessories and unique objects that are used to portray a distinct statement toward art, architecture, and interior design.
Secondary colors are created when you mix two primary colors together. For example, when you mix red and blue together you get purple. During my first year of working in interior design, I learned that these three colors are known as “Earth Tones”. By adding the right “muddy” pigment to each of these colors, you can create a calm, traditional look. I personally have used these tones mostly when designing for clients who desire the “Old World” Style in Interior Design. This is not to say that these colors can not be used for a more modern look.
Old World Look using Secondary Colors:
When using these colors, you don’t have to use them in their most saturated form. By toning each color to the shade that you choose can give you a more subtle, elegant look. Regardless, if you are modern or traditional, using these three colors can create a very soothing, esthetic room. When using these three colors remember that you can use different textiles and finishes to create your desired, finished look. Hint: Use an orange stained wood with purple or green textiles to create a more modern look. See example below:
Tertiary Colors are made when you mix one primary color with one secondary color. These colors are not used much in design as key elements to distinguishing certain genre’s of style. People usually use these colors to emphasize their favorite color in the room, or to follow certain fashion trends in the design world. Some examples of these colors are: Red-Purple(fuchsia), Blue- Purple (indigo), Blue- Green (teal), Yellow- Green (lime green),Yellow- Orange(peach), Orange -Red (rust).
Complementary Colors are used in reference to the color wheel. The term actually means “the opposite” side of the color wheel. Some examples of Complementary Colors are: Purple and Yellow; Red and Green; Blue and Orange. Hues may very depending on the design. These colors have been used in many popular logos, labels, and holidays! A great example of what I mean is the Lakers logo – purple and gold! These colors are usually used when you want a color to pop out. Because they are a combination of one warm color with one cool color, this creates high contast in the design and will help your eyes focus on the detail. Some examples are below.
Analogous Colors are colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel. This form of design, will have an overall look of a monochromatic color scheme. Usually used in more modern, eclectic, or transitional designs. Some examples of this type of style is shown below:
Color should be used with theory behind it. Starting with the basic principles and elements of design is the key to creating a great room. Design is a process that needs to be fully thought out before executing. Remember the most important logic behind design is “Form follows Function”, meaning that it must meet all criteria of design, looks and function. Here at Fabrics and Frames we are concerned with ergonomics as well as aesthetics. Understanding good design comes from understanding the logic behind color.
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