Regional colour remains a key consideration when it comes to global nuances. People are strongly connected to their colour heritage and colour analysts need to understand these distinctions. Here, we look at the global reach of yellow.



As one of the primary shades, yellow is also the lightest and most luminous colour in the spectrum. Perhaps because of its associations with warmth and the sun, this colour has a strong cultural heritage all over the world.



In China, it was the colour of clothing and tiles in the Imperial court of the Ming and Qing dynasties. In Ancient Greece it had associations with the cult of Artemis and marriage, while in Ancient Rome, yellow was highly sought after, and became a holy colour. Psychologists have found favour with the colour too; in a study by Marcel R. Zentner, young children matched yellow with the word happy.



By the 18th century, yellow had become a popular colour for day rooms (hence Farrow & Ball’s Day Room Yellow) and India yellow was making its mark, popularised in Europe by travellers returning from the sub-continent.



By the late 19th century in England, yellow was a symbol of decadence, linked to the publication of the Yellow Book, an avant-garde periodical featuring work by the artist Aubrey Beardsley. More recently, it is associated with optimism; the yellow brick road in the Film the Wizard of Oz, the smiley symbol, a bright yellow circle appropriated by the rave club scene in the UK in the 80’s and little yellow emoji faces that have become an essential element of text speak.



Around the world, yellow also appears as an architectural colour, often accompanied by trims of blue or white. This is seen in diverse locations from Brazil to Denmark, Portugal to Russia, a testament to this colour’s global appeal. In Guatemala, it is often seen with other primaries red and blue, while in Africa, traditional Ndebele houses, with their striking graphic designs, often use yellow mixed with green, blue, red and black.



In the hunt for a replacement for the now all too ubiquitous millennial pink, yellow may well be a strong contender. Man Repeller has dubbed a yellow with a slight touch of orange, ‘Gen-Z yellow.’ Interest in this particular shade is growing on Instagram, with celebrity endorsements from Gigi Hadid, Blake Lively and Kendall Jenner. Vogue too has given its stamp of approval to yellow, reflecting the colour’s strong showing on the catwalks.



Where fashion goes, furniture always follows. Our creative agency, Colour Hive tracked this development at last year's Milan Design Week where the expansion of yellows were spotted everywhere.



Warm ochres achieved an almost neutral status, and bold primary yellows were a notable accent, while green-cast yellows evolved as a new direction heading into 2024.


MIX Magazine is a quarterly print and digital publication by our creative agency, Colour Hive and is available as part of Colour Hive membership.


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