Color and Nature – The Observation of Color in Nature to Improve our Design

To unleash the creativity of a designer, simply start observing your surroundings. Take a stroll through the park, what do you see?

Trees, grass, water, ducks, leaves, flowers.

That is what everyone sees but look a little closer, look with a designer mind. Look at the way the bark covers the tree trunk, observe the myriad of colors within one small piece, retrace the form, feel the texture and see how it contrasts to the smoothness of the leaves. Look how the sunlight can make the bark look different from when it is in the shade, observe the effect of shadow.

You can use these observations to learn how color, light and texture work in the interior. Another example is a flower, look closely, there is often more that one color in a single flower, and it frequently goes by unnoticed.

This simple use of juxtaposition means that the secondary color intensifies the main flower color.

Another example – a pond of water, the shadows created by the clouds in the sky, the different depths of water, and once again the juxtaposition of other items in the pond combine to create a fantastic monochromatic scheme of blue/green.

We need to slow down our hectic pace and deadlines that drive us to create without thinking and take the time to appreciate what is around us, this acts as our catalyst to design. How many times have you had a mental block and no matter which way you look, there seems no solution? Many! A simple stroll in the park can be all that is required to clear you head, get the blood moving around the body and gives you time to observe where design begins, at nature.

How do you use this?

Carry around a note book and jot down your observations, what colors look great together, how the different textures of similar items create a subtle design, how the light can highlight or obscure, how much of a different color do you need to make a statement, how a mass of wild flowers with hundreds of different colours can work together to form a subtle single entity, how the curved flowing lines of a Willow tree are softer than the brutal severe lines of a Pine tree. With these observations think how you would relate them back to your work, and how they can work in with people; after all we are the main reason for design, to create environments in which we can perform specific tasks comfortably.

To conclude, like anything in life whether you are a scientist conducting and experiment, a doctor assessing a patient, a baker surveying his dough, you must observe to achieve your desired result.

So start now!

Lee Brown
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