Not everything is in black and white. There’s a lot more to colour than we think

Natasha Malani’s Begumpet flat is a study of muted cream, but every room has one wall of a different colour. “I picked a deep blue for the drawing room because it made me feel much calmer after a busy day of work,” she explains. “My bedroom has a pink wall because it’s supposed to be nurturing, and the dining room is yellow because it’s fun and happy.”

Colour therapy is not the new kid on the block by far, but is now catching on as a means of supportive healing.

“Colours possess energy, and colours rebalance our chakras,” explains vaastu practitioner Jayant Hegde. “Exposure to colours can uplift the body, lowering blood pressure and stimulating the different cells.”

Colour therapy in interior design is a fairly new concept. Achieving a sense of balance through colour at home doesn’t always have to come through pots of paint. “Applied colour isn’t the only option,” says architect Kiran Cheerla. “If you want blue in a room, I’d open up a skylight because the sky has more shades of blue than one coating of paint.” Harmony through shades of green can come through natural vegetation in the living area, while the more stimulating red can be provided by exposed brick walls. “You can create mood and warmth through natural colours,” he says.

It seems to be a question of conviction over science. “There are colours that soothe, but there is an absence of hard data,” says psychiatrist Dr. Vijay Nagaswamy. “There’s no rule of thumb.” Counsellor Padma Mahadev takes this theory further. “Colour therapy is used to calm the mind,” she says. “It’s connected to the Indian system of chakras. The chakra located in the throat is related to the colour blue, the chakra in the heart relates to green, and so on. It operates at a very subtle level.”

Studies detail the implications of exposure to different colours on the human body. Red stimulates blood flow while orange energises the nerves. Blue is a soothing shade, believed to alleviate pain, and yellow is a stimulant to various organs. “Criticisms state that this is a placebo effect, where belief dictates the body,” says Hegde. “This isn’t a core medical solution, it’s more secondary.” The introduction of colour into living spaces is an extension of this principle.

Psychiatrist Dr. Tara Srinivasan says there is no hard evidence on colour therapy’s effects but she doesn’t dismiss it. “I like to think of colour therapy as an individual-based process,” she says. “It’s like music. There are people who hate rock music and those who relax to it. We react in different ways.”


Beating the summer heatMay 7, 2010