An Interview with Colour Expert Karen Haller

I visited Karen Haller’s blog for the first time a few years ago, while I was writing a post about the absence of colour in contemporary architecture and interior design and the impact of this trend on human psychology.
Reading her blog posts Are we walking into a colourless future? and The psychological effects of colour in architecture I was really glad to see I’m not alone!

I followed her blog and newsletter since then and was happy to see that her book “The Little Book of Colour” released this August is available in many languages and in Greek! 
It’s an insightful, happy and colorful book, that will help you discover and apply the secrets of colour psychology in your everyday life.
By reading it you’ll learn, among other interesting and exciting things, why you dislike a colour, what are the best colours for your personality, how to use colour successfully and what are some common myths and misconceptions about colour.

“The Little Book of Colour” is one of the few books about colour psychology one can find translated in Greek and it’ll be this year’s Christmas Gift to a lucky D4H subscriber!

I’m really happy and excited that Karen could find some time among her busy schedule to reply to Designing for Happiness’ questions!

Hi Karen, could you tell us a few things about your baby “The Little Book of Colour”? How difficult and exciting was it to put your 20 years of experience about colour in a book and how can someone benefit from reading it?   

Karen: When I was clear the audience for the book was going to be the everyday person it made it much easier to know what to put in and what to leave out. 
Even though it’s called The Little Book of Colour it packed full insights and ways you can bring colour into your everyday life. It illuminates the science, psychology, and emotional significance of colour and provides practical tools to help you rediscover meaning in everything you do through the joy of colour.

Last year Designing for Happiness reposted (translated in Greek) your article
Why colour has the power to bring us joy”.
In this article, you explain very clearly how colour impacts our mood and why it is important for our mental health to put colour in our lives and environments.
Can you tell us more, especially for those who haven’t read your article yet?

Karen: When we see colour it connects with our emotions. We are having an emotive experience. Depending on our own personal reactions to that colour or colours is whether we are going to feel good or not and how we then react. By using colour to create positive feelings and environments that support us in positive ways can only improve our mental health and well-being.

Here’s the hottest topic we’re discussing a lot on Designing for Happiness.
It seems that we cannot live and work happily in colourless environments.
This is why brilliant white, grey and especially black are not the best choice for our homes and workplaces.
Then, why these achromatic hues became trendy and are the most favourite colour palette for contemporary architects?

Karen: Brilliant white, pure grey and black are still colour choices. In the previous question I mentioned that colour is emotion, so when we look at these three colours often too much is used and we can start to feel the adverse impact of the colour.
For example, grey was the fashionable colour in the UK for a number of years. Many people painted their home interiors all grey thinking it was calming. People were telling me they were always tired – that’s because grey can be draining. 

I’ve given talks and spoken to many architects and the consensus seems to be they love brilliant white because there’s no ‘colour distraction’. White draws a space precisely and it doesn’t interfere with their design. It gives a sense of perfection to their design and this perfect, unblemished space is gone once people move in. 

Further conversations revealed that architects aren’t taught colour beyond the colour wheel and they gravitate towards their own personal preferences.

Those who’ll read your book and do the quiz will find many ways to use colour to their advantage. Can we really transform our lives by choosing the appropriate colors for our clothes and homes? 

Karen: Absolutely. When we are willing to connect and show up as our authentic self that is life changing. I’ve had many people tell me from reading the book they are no longer afraid of colour.
They now realised they were scared of what others would think of them so they just followed fashion and the latest trends. Now they are reconnecting back to their relationship with themselves and no longer hiding behind black or not being seen by wearing grey.
Their colour choices are changing in what they wear and the colours they have in their home.

Color is the # 1 marketing tool, not only for companies and the advertising industry but for an individual. I mean, how we dress and especially the colours we wear can influence other people’s feelings and reactions.
Could you share with us 2 common examples of the right and wrong use of colour in a professional meeting?

Karen: I’ll use the example of red as this is a colour that I’ve seen being used to great effect and also be confronting.

Red can boost the energy and confidence of the wearer. As red advances towards us quicker than any other colour it means that we are likely to notice that person and pay attention when they are speaking. It’s the colour that gets you noticed.

If you are wearing a red that doesn’t suit you, for example if I wore a fire engine red it would drain the colour from my face and I would likely come across as hard, aggressive and it would be overwhelming for those looking at me. 

What is key is to wear the right tone of colour and in the right proportion to create a positive reaction for yourself and in others. 

You often talk about a “colour revolution” and you also said that “colour is the next big thing”. I’d love to see more colour in architecture, interior and urban design.
Do you feel or have reasons to believe that this colourless era in architecture and interior design is finally coming to an end?

Karen: We have lost our connection with colour and have been afraid for far too long. When we feel unsettled, unsure and not safe which over the past couple of decades with the economic, political and social situation, most of us have found ourselves in, colour can feel too overwhelming and we retreat to the safety of colours that don’t ask alot of us emotionally. This led to us being scared to express who we are authentically. 

Living a colourful life doesn’t mean going full out with colour. It’s about not being afraid to express who you truly are. When we connect with what is instinctive and true we’ll lead more authentic, joyful and fulfilled lives.

We are coming out of a colour rut. We are reconnecting back to ourselves. We are coming home.
And I’m sharing this colour journey through The Little Book of Colour and over in The Colour Club so we can all continue the colourful journey together

Interview: Mania Mavridou_architect

You can read the first chapter of The Little Book of Colour for free here:

Follow Karen
Instagram: @Karen_Haller_Colour
Twitter: @KarenHaller

Karen Haller is a leading international authority in the field of applied colour psychology, specialising in business brand colour, interiors, healthcare and wellbeing. Having studied colour for over 20 years she understands how colour affects us, influences us and how businesses and designers can use it to influence behavior.

Karen consults, trains and heads color campaigns for prestigious global brands such as Farrow & Ball, Dove, Fiat, BASF in the US and Ascot Races. She works globally with design professionals to advance their colour training through her mentoring programmes and CPD courses and was commissioned by the International School of Colour and Design, Australia to write their Colour Diploma course.

As a published author, Karen is regularly featured in local and national magazines, newspapers, radio and TV. She is a contributing author of the leading industry book Colour Design: Theories and Applications on Colour in Interiors.

As a speaker Karen shared her Colour Intuition™ system at Grand Designs LIVE and her theories during the prestigious Clerkenwell Design Week and co-curated the 2015 100% Design four days of colour talks.

Karen is also a trustee and committee member of the Colour Group of Great Britain, a British Interior Institute of Design (BIID) Industry Partner and CPD Provider and on the advisory board of the charity Color Cares.

Απαγορεύεται η αναδημοσίευση του άρθρου ή μέρους αυτού χωρίς έγγραφη άδεια.
Νόμος πνευματικής ιδιοκτησίας 2121/1993.


Υποβολή σχολίου

Εισάγετε τα παρακάτω στοιχεία ή επιλέξτε ένα εικονίδιο για να συνδεθείτε:


Σχολιάζετε χρησιμοποιώντας τον λογαριασμό Αποσύνδεση /  Αλλαγή )

Φωτογραφία Facebook

Σχολιάζετε χρησιμοποιώντας τον λογαριασμό Facebook. Αποσύνδεση /  Αλλαγή )

Σύνδεση με %s

Ο ιστότοπος χρησιμοποιεί το Akismet για την εξάλειψη των ανεπιθύμητων σχολίων. Μάθετε πως επεξεργάζονται τα δεδομένα των σχολίων σας.

Create a website or blog at


Αρέσει σε %d bloggers: