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Meet the colors of the Romanian mind

From passionate red to doubtful gray, colour is a cultural code

In the book “The theory of colors”, Goethe wrote that in reality the color is a subjective phenomenon, not purely scientific. In his opinion the color is created by the interaction between the physical behaviour of the world and the perceptual system of people. He clustered the colors, for example, into ”plus” tones (red, orange, yellow) that trigger positivity and joie de vivre and “minus” colors (blue, green, violet) that induce anxiety and stress. He might have wanted to build a psychological theory of colors, rather than a physiological one.

We were very much inspired by books we read about the theory of colors, but also by the numerous qualitative researches we conducted on various visual materials, working with the perceptions of people and trying to uncover the true meaning of their choices. Because most of the time the choice is made by the energy the material transmits to people, usually through colors, conditioned by the emotional predisposition of the people in the specific culture to relate to that type of energy. Afterall, we see the world through very complex lens, where all our emotions, culture, age, sex, religion, passions or personal experiences blend. Within this universe, like Pastoureau said “the colour is, firstly, a social construct”

Inspired by these thoughts, we wanted to uncover some parts of the colours of the Romanian soul. How colours are felt by Romanians? Which are the sources of positivity or negativity? How is that linked to our cultural body and soul? We consequently conducted a quantitative survey on 100 people aged 18-55, men and women, general population, and the results surprised us through consistency.

Some key interesting findings resulting from research:

  1. We register the stronger associations in the area of non - colours (white, black, Gray). Whereas it is very clear to people what white or black stand for, they seem to have a rather tensioned relationship with Gray nuances, associating them with indecisions or indifference. The Gray area induces anxiety and very few linked it to maturity, complexity and intelligence. That could be an interesting indication of the level of maturity or openness to risk of the Romanians, where the less obvious is automatically doubtful (Gray area is a negative place)
  2. Violet and black stand for status, prestige and elegance, they are seen as choices of the bold, the dominant ones. It is interesting to note that none was associated to power, but rather social status attributes: elegance, luxury, pretentious, which could be an indication of the need for social validation Romanians need (not precisely the power, as people do not want to responsibility accompanying it)
  3. Red seems to be the colour that received the highest association score with an attribute: passion. It is also one of the few that got a negative association on top three attributes: danger.  
    Following passions implies danger, that’s up to the individual to set his priorities right.
  4. Yellow is the third colour that received a negative connotation – jealousy / envy – yet it is not sure how much of this connotation is settled by social norms or coming from authentic perceptual value of the colour.
  5. Another controversial colour is, as a paradox, brown. People seem to perceived the energy of the nuance as flat & common, not interesting at all, even boring. They tend to move away from the earthy, warm, familiar feeling brown might induce, which could be explained by the extroverted, social and exploratory side of the Romanians, always looking for a better, shinier place to live in. Home sweet home could work for a while, yet not too long. Accepting and embracing the value of brown in our lives might be a source of emotional stability and resilience to change
  6. The study also shows that Romanians have a very good and positive connections with colours such as green (nature, life, health), blue (stating for relaxation) or orange (positive energy, enthusiasm, optimism). We could feel that this is the visual core of the Romanian perceptual soul: sun, water, nature, natural sources of positive energy, where there is no negativity or doubt
  7. Pink has a rather universal meaning for Romanians (as everywhere on the Globe), the symbol of fragility  and innocence. One can never get upset with something   that’s pink, yet neither can take it seriously
  8. White means faith and purity, it is a 100% commitment to living a life in light & love, which is highly admirative, yet difficult to achieve



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