What do Vincent van Gogh, the emperors of China and a schoolbus have in common? They are all yellow!
Yellow is the brightest colour that we know of. Some blind people can even see this colour! It is the most visible colour from a distance, attracts loads of attention and signals caution (think about a ‘yellow card’ during football games or yellow traffic lights).
Yellow is the colour of sunlight and therefore associated with gaiety and optimism. Who doesn't enjoy yellow tulips or narciss flowers in their home or garden? But culturally, there are some differences in how we see and appreciate yellow.
Yellow inspires some mixed feelings in Europe and America. Yellow is one of the colours associated with spring and Easter, but also with caution. Sunflowers and sunlight bring us happiness after a long and grey winter. Golden hair was a much sought-after colour in classic antiquity, while yellow sunbeams signified wisdom in Renaissance art. But Judas is portrayed wearing a yellow robe when betraying Christ and the sight of yellow ambulances do not fill us with happiness. Historically speaking, yellow is a difficult colour in the West, but in fashion and design it is nowadays rather popular for the more daring people!
In Asia, yellow is a very positive colour. Buddhist monks walk in saffron and ocher dyed robes, for the colour yellow represents for them freedom of worldly cares for already more than 2000 years!
In China, yellow is the colour of nobility and was only used by the Emperor in his symbols and clothing. It is considered the most prestigious colour in China and the colour of the center of everything. Gold was represented by a combination of red and yellow colours which is why many temples, altars and royal palaces were, and still are, decorated with these colours. Even the legendary first Emperor of China is called the Yellow Emperor! Yellow (and gold) is therefore a very good colour to have in your living environment! (A yellow bi-disc would be considered very auspicious indeed!)
We see the colour yellow has many good and some bad connotations in Western cultures. In the East, it is mainly associated with spirituality and positivity. But emotionally, the colour of the sun inspires happiness in people around the world!
In interior design, yellow can be a great asset. A shade of pale, creamy yellow can add warmth to an interior, while bright, narcissus-like yellow is more intense and should be carefully combined with other colours for a positive ambiance. A bright yellow pot should best be combined with more neutral shaded pots, unless you like your room to contain many bright and saturated colours!
Because of its visibility and association with sunlight it is a perfect colour for spring textiles and small decorations. Light yellow to warm saffron coloured textiles, like curtains and table cloths, make a room seem more warm and light, while bright decorations attract a wandering eye in interiors. Select some small, yellow decorations, like pottery, and place them next to neutral coloured decorations to liven up the room. Put yellow flowers in grey coloured pots (or hollow bricks!) to bring out the brightness of the flowers!
If you are looking for a positive update in your interior, don’t be afraid to add some yellow!
- April 14, 2017
- Margret Ressang