Color Comfort - Kim Kleur
Bijgewerkt op: sep 15
I'm writing this testimonial as a color specialist, interior designer and exterior designer. As head of the Dutch Color Foundation I also have a special interest in the subject of the Color Comfort method. But this piece is probably more about being concerned with color and the joy it brings to life. In my life it has become profoundly important as I learned during the last seven years of professional practice in the ever-expanding fields of color. After my early twelve years carrier as a professional dancer I never imagined I would find another kind of a passion again. But the good news was that I did. And now, many years after I started my new color-carrier, I feel the urge to write this, solely driven by my enthusiasm to share my ideas on color and life. As it is becoming more and more clear to me that both are intertwined in so many ways that we should start to recognize them. As the western world is coming of age with the main focus on business-efficiency, I believe people are about ready to incorporate emotion into their lives again. What better way could there be to help people? Lets bring some color into their lives and make them happier. In this piece I will briefly describe my views on color and the use of them, stemming from both my personal background and my professional experience.
In my fourth year as a kid I knew for sure that I wanted to dance. I'll spare you the stories of hardship that followed, but I became a professional dancer in a touring company for twelve years. Dancing involves the skill for absorbing the choreographer’s story and transferring its emotion out to the audience. Of course, a lot of physical skills are fundamental to the domain, but after mastering those, all that’s defining the difference between you and the other dancer is your ability to translate your good stuff into a performance. One of the important things I learned was that our mind is really over our body as some known gurus like to show us with their mantras. It proved to me that our mindset is crucial to our performance. In my current color work I’m still very much aware of the importance of emotional things and the mindful’ strength in people’s lives. It turns out that colors have a strong influence on the very same things. Just as in dance, life is full of space, light and movement. On stage, the boundaries of your freedom can be felt as a shoe-fit and the lighting of a performance is the crucial guide to all possible expression. Without space no movement is possible and without light not a single color can be seen. We all need to move, preferably in a space that suits us. Nevertheless, we go to offices that feel like prisons and we try to relax in homes that look like a brochure. Many people have lost grip on their space. I see it as my duty to put people back in charge of the moving space they are supposed to be happy in by making people aware of the spatial-, moving- and illuminating qualities of colors.
Guide / coach / client
While working with clients to find the right design solution to their’ needs I see myself mainly as a coach. I always try to guide them in the confusing host of choices, techniques and underlying theories. During this user centered design process I sometimes wished I wouldn't have to explain so much. It is tempting to use technique as a defense system to avoid them from actually understanding things that 'belong' to the specialist solely. But I believe that it is important to empower people. Some designers are in the game for their own glory, whereas I hope to be a specialist in support of my clients' wellbeing. During the time I spent on professional color-advise it became clear to me that working bottom-up actually deepens the matter. With every new insight you find that the more you know, the more want to know more. This depth, for me, is truly fulfilling. Color is stimulating to many senses. We foremost see and feel them, referring to both mathematical and psychological phenomena, a rich world of its own being researched and documented for over decades now. I truly eat that stuff for breakfast. I love it. And not surprisingly, I want more. I want to know what colors can tell about us, what they can do for us etcetera. Color is growing on me and so I guess I'm growing on color too.
Growing colors and the CGD-concept
Because I have been digging into colors for quite a while now, I notice that one could never be an all-round specialist given the vast array of expertise you need to have in the field. I have met so many great specialists in different parts of color science, psychology, healing and more. They all contribute to the tools we use from so many angles. I can't stop being exited about it. All of the encounters supported the idea that networking and exchange of knowledge is a goal in its own right. This is probably why I accepted a director’s position in the Dutch Foundation View on Color (Stichting Kleur&Visie). Besides scientific- and technical color subjects, we also encourage color creatives and people from the esoteric corners to contribute to the wisdom comprised. It is our true belief that opening up this structure will help all specialists understand more of the secrets of color. As I managed to evolve and incorporate my old skills into my new ones, I find it logical that all of it (emotion, space and movement) has become second nature in my work as a color specialist. Therefore I feel obliged to work it as a specialization. But I also discovered that my drive was not solely the design of interiors colors, but that color itself was my actual driver. It also helped me come closer to my clients needs. Colors carry a host of people’s emotions, the things that always were important to me in the first place. After seven years now, I still find it rewarding to use color as the starting point for interiors. My strong belief in this user centered design and the power of colors became bundled in my own invention: Color Guided Design ©, with color as a coaching tool for client-design-interactions. This comprises of: 1) the 'color driven' concept that colors lead you into the right direction; and 2) the color aided type of coaching that helps you analyze peoples characters and needs. This CGD-concept has always been a fundament to my work.
Despite all the theories, much of my approach to life and work is based on intuition. I follow my instincts even though they're not always entirely clear to me. Most of the time I trust that my subconscious will guide me somehow, although I must admit that the science of color can be pretty confusing in the conscious part of the brain. Because dealing with conflicting color-systems, mastering the effects of natural- versus electrical lighting, the harmony and disharmony of color combinations would probably give any other person, like myself, the stress of a split personality. And it seems to show in many color-trends that even designers don't seem to dare make statements. Fear of getting into the complexity of it, is solved by following safe (or dull) guidelines. Stuff you'd never break your neck on like shades of grey and white, the so-called 'modern' styles. No wonder that color-choices people make in general, are based on the same safe examples. This next saying (a little adjusted for this sake) probably exemplifies: “If you feed them peanuts, they become monkeys”. But most people yearn for further expression of their personality these days. It's the sign of the times. Shouldn't they be able to find some proper help in this? I do believe so. To me a good design is not just pretty to a given standard, but good because a person or organization feels good in it. And if they are not able to translate what their instinct is telling them (understandable from my viewpoint), then I think I should give it my best to bring color-expertise and my basic instincts into the game. Many of the clients I worked for had more trouble expressing emotions. Being trained in the emotional business I am sometimes startled by the lack of hugging qualities in the ‘real’ world. Emotional expression is crucial to the transfer of important information about a persons’ life. Without this information it is hard to find the parameters that fuel someone’s’ energy and happiness. So I made it my default to use emotional value on the road to happiness for the people who decided to hire my color-advise, interior design or any other service.
The Human factor
The human factor is inevitably important. As an artist you learn to listen, process and create with the tools at hand. With life experience you add substantial to an important reference depot, but moreover, life teaches to listen even better to human factors. The business side of being a practitioner is giving you the main playing field, the only means to an end. Without the application of your work you don't really test its value to others. And of course I mean business in the broad sense, artists included, of working for another persons need, without money as the only way of judgment. Now adding the Color Comfort Method to this makes a lot of sense. This method fills a huge part of the gap between the knowing and feeling when the human factor is concerned. Because despite all science, how little conclusive can we be about the emotional, subconscious meaning of colors. This method, even if you mistrust any of the subconscious, is at least a powerful tool for analysis when in dialog with real peoples' characters. So let me explain. Thelma van der Werff must have had a lot of guts to take up the challenge of creating this method. I very much respect the fact that she dug into something as mistrusted as our subconscious to begin with. If you add the sheer impossible idea of making it a universal method, you can probably understand the impact of the proposition. Creating a universal method for explaining the meaning of colors, in this method linked to clothing, is a huge effort. Again emphasizing that I’m only taking my baby-steps into this, I have to admit that the method is already growing on me. There must be something gripping about it besides the general interest I have in colors or their (sub) conscious meaning. Lets face that many things have been written about these subjects already. When looking closer at research material, I believe most of it is actually incomplete. Some bring shallow statements like “red is an active color”, just because people subscribe to this in scientific surveys. Other statements are made within a specific context that cannot be generalized. Or statements that for instance don't take a parameter like color saturation into consideration. The Color Comfort Method often goes a lot deeper. It shows the balance or harmony between colors and offers both positive and negative sides to a color. The method may even be daring sometimes, but I think this makes it intriguing. It triggers you to dig deeper with your subjects. At first I found myself a little confused with some of the meanings of what colors you (e.g. your subject) wear. But after doing more interviews you become more confident about it, because a lot of the analysis is actually fully confirmed by the subjects. If not done so immediately, then sometimes even stronger in a later stage. One can say that there must be some truths encapsulated within this method, no matter where it came from. This being another good reason for staying fascinated. The next thing that I’m very interested about is how to make it work for groups and organizations. If I had to come to a quick conclusion, I would have to say that the method is surely something that could influence my work irreversibly. Not knowing how it will evolve in my life and work, I will definitely find a way to incorporate it. But if I were to doubt anything at this point, it would have to be the “universal” meaning. As of now, I see no way of making it work the same way for all global interpretations, as for instance the Chinese or African color connotations can be totally different. But about this you'll have to ask me later, when I’ve mastered to weave the surplus of Color Comfort specialization further into my practice.