A talk about the colour brown, how to be original…

Published: 4 November, 2014

Categories: General

A talk about the colour brown, how to be original…

It’s a wonderful world, innit? Old Satchmo (Louis Armstrong… no, no, not Lance) certainly thought so and his song about the kaleidoscope that is earth has certainly made its mark on the world. If a blind man can see that much, then surely you as designer can see even more.

At creativity workshops, people are often asked to describe a colour to a blind person. What is brown if you can’t see it?  What does it feel like? It can be the golden brown soft abrasions of sand on the beach, the soft, furry pelt of a grizzly bear, or how about the rough brown bark of an oak tree? If you could taste brown, how would you explain that taste to this blind person? Is it a juicy, grilled steak? Perhaps some brown onion soup? More likely you’re going for a chocolate milkshake. We know what brown smells like – the staple diet of us designers – coffee. Or do you have something else in mind ? Hmmm, hearing brown may be a bit harder, so we’ll give you a moment?

What did you hear?

We heard the swishing of autumn leaves as we drag our feet through it. We also heard the shlip-shlop of mud when tiny hands make mud-cakes. Some of you may hear a cow mooing in the meadow.

Whatever your brown looks, sounds, feels, tastes and smells like – that brown is uniquely yours. Sure, there may be some areas that overlap, but try adding some additional colours, and you’ll see how deep that rabbit hole really goes.

When you start a design project, think of your client as being blind, deaf, anosmic (no smell), ageusiatic (no taste) or having sensory neuropathy. While other designers will simply use a shade of brown to depict an image, you must now use your five senses to make your colour, and your design, come alive.

Enough with the brown, though. We’re sure you understand that concept. What we do want you to remember is that no one has your view of the world or your particular set of interests, and that unique view of the world should guide all your work. If you have to work on a project that you’re not enthused about, you have the opportunity, as someone with no interest in it, to tie it in with your world – how can you connect that theme to your likes? Or, better yet, you absolutely adore the topic at hand, how will you transfer that enthusiasm into your design? Taste its sweetness, feel its abrasions, hear the chiming, see its translucence, smell the aroma – and imagine how you will add all of that to your project, better yet, tell your clients about it when you present to them.

Not only is this a fun way to work, but it will ensure that everything you create bears your stamp of originality.