On Wednesdays We Wear Pink- Colour And Gender

As Designers, we all know the amazing impact colour has on a room. It can be used to create mood, focal point, drama and even affect us psychologically. However, one of the things about colour I find fascinating is the concept of gender assignment (I wrote a whole blog post a few months back about Decorating With Pink and how it doesn’t mean girlie). Pink for girls and blue for boys has generally been the rule in North America but the fact is, colour has no gender. The concept of gender is something we invented and assigned to a wide variety of things from colour to fashion to activities to vocations and beyond, none of which are concrete. Colour has no gender - I think it’s either soft, dramatic or neutral.

Colour simply exists in tints, tones and shades. We all know tinting is the adding of white to a colour (making it softer), shading is darkening it (making it more dramatic) and the basic mid tone is neutral. So I thought it would be fun to design a Nursery in tints, tones and shades of a Split Complementary Colour Scheme (Red/Blue-Green/Yellow-Green) to illustrate my point.

 

The Neutral Room

Steve Ryan Picture 1

So here I used 60% blue, 30% green and 10% red balanced with lots of white and neutral floors. This room is super cute, but you can’t tell if it’s a boy’s room or girl’s because I’ve used the neutral mid tones.

The Soft Room

Steve Ryan Picture 2

Here I’ve used the same Scheme in 60% red, 30% blue and 10% green - all in tinted versions. Flooring, trims and almost all the furniture and accessories remain the same.  While this is definitely softer, there are no real indicators of the baby’s gender. Some might assume it’s for a girl because of the pink but that’s only because our society has assigned that gender to that colour. The truth is, it’s simply a room that feels soft. Perfect for any baby.

The Dramatic Room

Steve Ryan Picture 3

Here I’ve used the same Scheme in 60% blue, 30% red and 10% green all in shaded tones. Again, flooring, trim and almost all furniture and accessories remain constant. This room is definitely more dramatic but, again, there’s no real indication of boy or girl. Even though I’ve used more blue (typically assigned by us to boys) it’s really just a bold looking room.

What I love about this visual experiment is it really helps illustrate how we, as a society, place our conceptions on things. Colour is asexual and really did nothing to deserve the labels we place on it. This is something to keep in mind given the recent surge in “Millennial Pink” and Rose Gold. You may have Clients who want to use them but get some resistance because of their preconceived notions. Just show them this article and move it along. The other thing I love about this experiment is it really shows the incredible power of colour. By really only changing the wall and ceiling colours I was able to create three dramatically different looks.  As Designers, this is a huge part of our skill set. We’ve always known that paint is the cheapest way to update a room and get the most bang for your buck.

 So the next time you’re working with a Client who wants to use colour remember it has no gender. It only exists in tints, tones and shades. Then wow them with it. 

By Steve Ryan
Steve Ryan Designs

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