Pink isn’t my colour, or is it?

Pink isn’t my colour, or is it?

Colour has been a hot topic in psychology since the 19th century. We now know the effect it has on mood and behaviour and how a person’s culture, gender and experience affect how colour resonates.

How we use colour must be carefully considered. In commercial interior design we need to understand the client’s brief, commercial objectives, and most importantly their brand. It’s then our knowledge of how current trends, aesthetics, colour, materials and lighting enhance customer experiences comes into play. What we don’t do is select colour to ensure rationale is applied to produce the required emotive reaction to the experience.

Consumer Experience
Consumers’ desire for experiences means that it is no longer enough to visit a restaurant that serves delicious food, the restaurant must also and more importantly serve an experience, a point of difference, an Instagram-able moment. Consumers need to be part of a vibrant experience, but what they really want these days is to share that colourful experience with everyone.

Colour Statements
This is also true of our relationship with colour and how it is applied. It’s no longer about rules; the use of colour as accent in how we dress or as a feature wall in our homes, it is a defiant move away from conformity. After all, why in the social media driven society should we be bound by so many rules? This may explain the recent, yet enduring, popularity of a certain colour which has historically been through quite a metamorphosis.

  1. An example of how pink is the predominant colour however it is a perfect back drop to the artwork.

  2. An example of how pink is used as an accent colour alongside the contrasting pistachio colour.

The evolution of pink
The colour pink is often thought of as a feminine colour, perhaps due to our childhood memories. 'Girls toys' are usually pink and purple, while 'boys’ toys' are often red, yellow, green, or blue. As the colour is strongly linked with femininity, people sometimes associate it with qualities thought of as feminine, such as softness, kindness and compassion.

Ironically in the 18th century it was common place for a man to wear a pink suit; as a derivative of red pink signified strength, health and youthfulness, while blue was often associated with the Virgin Mary’s customary blue dress. A journal published in 1918 wrote ‘’There has been a great diversity of opinion on the subject, but the generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl.” Author Jo B. Paoletti ( has suggested our ancestors were more concerned with distinguishing children and babies from adults rather than by their sex, so pink and blue remained gender-neutral, quite forward thinking for it’s time we would say today.

By the late 19th century, Freud and other psychologists’ theories of childhood development gained favour and parents began to differentiate their offspring's sex earlier. However, it took until the 1950s, for pink became strongly associated with femininity. This decade was strongly focused on the need for conformity and stability due to the aftermath of the war and some suggest there was a subconscious shift in gender classification of this colour due to the Nazi’s branding homosexuals with a pink triangle in the concentration camps.

Since the 1960s there has been a towing and froing between androgyny and femininity, masculinity and metro-sexuality. But unlike in the 50s, today’s Millennials are hell bent on escaping conformity to break away from austerity. Meanwhile, Generation X now craves a world of nostalgia and romance. So it appears that, for the moment, both have embraced a colour that mixes the strength of red and purity of white, to create a gender, sex, age and culture unbiased colour.

Red & Orange Sample Board.jpg

At the heart of it all

Commercial interior designers’ use of colour

Trends in fashion and colour will continue to be cyclical but what I have learned is that colour will always be emotive; the football team you love or loathe, or our nostalgic childhood memories will evoke a reaction.

As a designer often the first question I’m asked is ‘what colour will it be’. Therefore, it is paramount that we manage expectations long enough to present our understanding of the brief, our knowledge of current trends, consumer behaviour and aesthetics and, most importantly, our design vison. After all, we don’t select colour in isolation Even if there will always be a place for pink in my heart.

Want to discover more about colour and how MAS uses it (aligned with many other tools) to design outstanding commercial spaces? We have a wealth of experience across many sectors, with particular expertise in the retail and hospitality markets.

Lauren Dargo