Color is frequently used in the lighting industry to bring a bright, vibrant feel to an environment. Sports games, holidays, and raising awareness for a cause are just a few examples of where color comes into play with lighting. But did you know that each color carries meaning and has a subconscious effect on our everyday life? Now that the lighting industry is beginning to understand these effects, colored light is helping people all over the world.
Think of a commercial for baby products. The color white is almost always present. This is because white symbolizes the beginning of something, innocence, purity, safety, and cleanliness. These words are often associated with babies and new life. Therefore commercials with baby related products draw us in with subtle use of the color white, in turn putting all these words in our minds.
Just as white symbolizes certain things, the color blue also carries feelings of calmness, faith, and trust. Blue lighting has a special effect on the body in a variety of ways. Many findings show that the human eye has photoreceptors that are sensitive to blue light, which has an effect on circadian rhythm. Because of this blue light is good when waking up in the morning and helping a person readjust his circadian rhythm when traveling and suffering from jetlag. Blue LED lighting can also be used to increase blood flow, as the skin is also sensitive to the color blue, and can ultimately remove pain in the body and promote healing.
Green is also a calming color, conveying hope, soothing and healing. The color green is the most visible and sensitive color to the human eye. Green lighting was introduced into operating rooms in 1914 by Dr. Harry Sherman (read article) who found the color green reduces glare and complements hemoglobin red, the color of blood, to create a more visible environment for surgeons. Green light can also enhance learning and concentration, which is why it is sometimes used in classrooms.
Yellow is a warming color, which can evoke feelings of happiness or joy, as well as spark muscle energy and mental activity. The color yellow catches attention, which is why it is used often on taxicabs or school buses. In hospitals, warm tones of yellow lighting are used to create a relaxed and cozy atmosphere, which can help patients get to sleep at night.
Orange is a welcoming color, creating a friendly atmosphere. Some of the meanings behind the color orange are friendship, endurance, enthusiasm, and creativity. Orange lighting is perfect for bringing home a newborn baby, making them feel at home, welcome, and comfortable, considering red, orange, and yellow are some of the first colors a baby can see. It can also stimulate appetite in young people, which is why orange is associated with healthy foods. The color orange can also increase oxygen to the brain, therefore triggering increased mental activity.
Light purple generates feelings of wisdom, inspiration, and magic. Dark purple can deter people because it can be associated with sadness or frustration. In hospitals, a purple, or violet light, called “HINS-light” (read article) has been found to kill “superbugs”, like MRSA and C. difficile. According to researchers at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, better sterilization and disinfection methods in hospitals are considered urgent needs, making this an important finding within the field.
Color subconsciously effects our everyday life. It is used strategically in retail, restaurants, schools, and hospitals to elicit a specific feeling in people. While each color has a separate meaning, they also each have a separate feeling associated with them, effecting our mood in everyday situations. Whether lighting is being used to enhance sleep patterns, cure jetlag, promote healing, or generate mental activity in the classroom, colored lighting is helping people all over the world.