Despite global trend themes, colour often remains resolutely regional, reflecting culture, climate and light. In this new series, we look at how these preferences manifest in colour families, beginning with that perennial favourite, green.
Much of green’s appeal comes from associations with nature and vegetation. In global colour nuances regional geography is highly significant and is reflected in different ways. The most instinctive is to simply replicate the colours of nature locally.
In the simplest terms, Latin America tend to favour richer, zesty limes and jungle foliage greens compared to Europe, in particular the Scandinavian countries, where more shaded pine tree hues are preferred. These choices are supported by the quality of natural light in the respective regions.
Alongside this, there's a more complex thread to unpick. Preferences can speak to the fantasy of escape, with, for example more Scandinavian shades being favoured periodically in Latin America. This reflects both the popularity of travel to northern latitudes and the trend influence of Scandinavian design.
While nature plays an enormous part in the regional decisions made about green, cultural signifiers are equally important. In the US, green will always be the colour of money, wealth and prosperity, linked in perpetuity with the US dollar.
For Mayans, the blue-green of jade was linked to precious rain and quetzal feathers. The colour has been adopted by many ecological political parties as shorthand for the fight to preserve the planet.
The religious connotations of green should be recognised too. This is a sacred colour in Islam with Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia, among others, featuring green on their national flags.
There are also cultural associations with immorality and associations with paradise. In M’zab, a region in the Algerian Sahara, houses painted in green indicate that the inhabitants have made a pilgrimage to Mecca.
Green also has significance for Buddhists, linked to youth and vigour. For Christians too, green is associated with Saint John the Evangelist and Saint Patrick, patron saint of Ireland.
Not all associations with green are positive, especially if a note of brown is added. In most countries this is read as a military colour. Pitching this type of green, in particular Khaki, can be problematic anywhere with a recent history of civil unrest.
Paradoxically, green is also seen as the colour of decay and can even be associated with death.
‘Often in Islamic countries, the custom is to have an intensely green flag waving over the mausoleums of venerated holy persons’.
Henri Stierlin, Colours of the World, by Jean-Philippe and Dominique Lenclos (W.W.Norton & Company).
The message when building regional colour palettes is that the greens need to be selected very carefully, with consideration to light, landscape and culture.
Duha Group is a global, industry leading manufacturer of innovative colour marketing tools. We specialise in colour matching, colour mass reproduction and colour system management.
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Image credits from top:
Ksenia Chernaya | Jason Leung | Nothing Ahead | Ludvig Hedenborg | Pixabay | Karolina Grabowska | Lilartsy | Khalid Nawaz | Medina / Saudi Arabia - 11 May 2017: Green Dome Close up - Prophet Mohammed Mosque , Al Masjid an Nabawi Photo By Ayman | Yan Ming | Specna Arms | Elina Mozhi | © Colour Hive