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Colour in everyday life

Colour is all around us. Wherever we look we see colours, even if we do not always notice them. Nature is full of colour. Take a close look at snow or ice - if you can, you will see colours ranging from shades of white to shades of blue. Not even sand consists of a single colour, but is made up of tiny grains of many different colours.

The human eye can differentiate between hundreds of thousands of individual colours. However, individual colours do not usually attract our attention, but rather their harmony or lack of it. A striking combination may either please or dismay us, but it will never leave us cold.

Colour matters

Scientific studies have been carried out into the impact of ambient colours on human behaviour. Professor Nancy Kowalek (University of Texas, Austin) has studied the effect of colours on performance in the office environment. Her studies show that the commonly used off-white colours were not found to be productive or stimulating for office work, and yet the majority of offices are decorated in off-white.

Various studies have shown that significant improvement in productivity and general operations can be expected in a positively perceived environment, due to its more stimulating atmosphere. Both these factors also have a positive influence on safety.

From tribes to corporations

Colour has always played a significant role in human existence. From the ancient banners and colours carried by tribe members, we have moved on to corporate colours. However, the use of colour differs in one respect. In the past, colour reflected the identity of the bearer and not that of the manufacturer.

Today, corporate colours identify the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), not the customer who may well use the machine continuously. We might like to choose the colour of our cars to suit our personal taste. We might even want to repaint commercial vehicles to reflect our own ideas. However, all we see in our factories is a limited range of colours selected by strangers.

True individualism

Many of us are familiar with the story of the colours available for Ford T models. This first mass-produced product was said to be available in any colour as long as it was black! This is still true today for many other industrial products. They are only available in the manufacturers' choice of colours, not the users' choice.

As paint consumers, we are used to choosing individual colours from a vast range including at least hundreds of colours, if not more. In industrial coatings, the choice of colours has traditionally been much more limited -, at best, only a few alternatives were usually made available. This is now changing. For example, tractors can already be tailor-made to orders now based partly on customer requirements, one of which is colour.