Color is Like Sex

Color is like sex. It's mysterious. It's unknowable. It never looks the same twice -- no two people see the same thing.
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I always shudder when I read the words "If a new study is any guide..." on
the front page of the New York Times.

But there it was Friday morning, fresh from the university press release, now Big News
Researchers in British Columbia have discovered that "red can make people's
work more accurate, and blue can make people more creative."

I've been a decorating magazine editor for thirty years. I've patiently endured
decades of the so-called "science of color."

I've been through "prisons should be painted pink because it calms down the
inmates." OMG, love love love pink, let's not make shivs, let's compare tattoos.

I've read "studies" that show people who like purple are individualistic
and people who like yellow are happy and people who like red are outgoing. No shit.

I've sat through endless color "forecasts" about how everybody's going to
buy yellow towels for their bathrooms this year because it's the hot fashion color.
Trust me, they won't.

Color is like sex. It's mysterious. It's unknowable. It never looks the
same twice. No two people see the same thing. No two people feel the same
thing. I once went to China on a cruise ship. Eight hundred of us got off
the ship wearing white, because it feels festive and shippy and says "I'm on
a cruise." In China white is the color of mourning. We
looked insane.

Color is mostly unpredictable. Explain this: My biggest selling issue at House Beautiful in three years was a "color issue" about neutrals.

So I want to be clear with those researchers in British Columbia: Make me work
around the color red, and I'll be anxious and distracted. Pay me well, and
I'll be a lot more creative than if you stick me in a blue room.

Why are we so determined to make color into a science? Why can't we just
leave it alone and enjoy it?

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