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Environmental colouration and/or the design process

John Wiley & Sons
Publication Date
  • 120100 Architecture
  • 120106 Interior Design
  • Colour
  • Conceptions
  • Signification
  • Design Process
  • Design Practice
  • Communication
  • Design
  • Ecology
  • Geography


Environmental colour is multifaceted, playing a variety of roles in our everyday lives. However, is colour considered important in the design of our built environment by those who practice design, such as architects and interior designers? Prototypes and massing models for designs are often presented in white or monochromatic combinations, irrespective of the materials incorporated and the colours that may be applied in the final constructed building, interior, or object. Therefore, questions are raised concerning design professionals’ perceptions of the importance of colour in relation to space and form, and to the experience of place. The built environment is understood by the designers and design researchers generally in one of four contexts—as object, as product, as communicator, or as social domain (Smith, Architectural Experience: A Composition of Viewpoints, doctoral dissertation, Queensland University of Technology, Australia; 2000). Designers who consider place as an experience, or as part of a social domain, will address the design task differently than those who treat it as an object to be coloured. In addition, Franz (A Phenomenographic Study of Design in the Interior Context, doctoral dissertation, Queensland university of Technology, Australia; 1997) identified four conceptions of designing held by designers: experiential, structural, production, and retail. Therefore, designers’ conceptions of what it is to design in general are related to the manner in which they design in practice. In association with such conceptions, it is assumed that the integration of colour in the built environment is also influenced by these understandings. Explorations into environmental meaning, in addition to colour theory and decorative applications, are hypothesized to be important sources of information for designers involved in colouring the built environment. Discussions of environments in terms of signification and experience may broaden practitioners’ understanding of the role that colour plays in place formation. In addition, the findings of a study in which 16 Queensland architects and interior designers were surveyed to ascertain whether colour is considered an integral part of their design process are reported. The study is not conclusive, however; although further investigation is required, the study does identify differences and commonalities among participants that are of interest in light of the aforementioned issues.

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