What do tiles and chakras have in common? “Chakra-wha?”
According to yoga philosophy, chakras are several points of physical or spiritual energy in the human body. Each chakra has a corresponding color and affects us in its own unique way. When you walk into a room and feel really good, is it amazing design or the vibration of color? Or both?
“When the energy center, or chakra, is blocked or weak, physical and emotional dysfunction can occur,” says Dr. Alicia Armistead of Healing Arts NYC. Dr. Armistead is a color therapist, chiropractor, and one of only a handful of practitioners in New York City to be certified as a Master in Nutrition Response Testing.
So how does it actually work? How does color work with the chakras to promote healing and balance?
“There are different ways to go about color therapy,” says Armistead. “Many times a patient explains their emotional state and physical symptoms with a color therapy practitioner and the practitioner decides which chakra to work on. When working on a chakra, different colored sunglasses can be used. For example, if the patient needs to strengthen their root chakra, I would then treat it by having the patient wear red sunglasses for 60 seconds. This treatment of color into the eyes stimulates the brain at a wavelength of about 700nm which resets the chakra energy.”
Armistead has developed the use of muscle testing or applied kinesiology in her approach to working with the chakras.
“In muscle testing, I put my hand in the patient’s energy field and if an energy field is weak, the muscle testing will show that. After finding out which one(s) go weak and then prioritizing which one needs the most healing, I then have the patient wear the appropriate colored sunglasses that correspond to the weak chakra.”
What if you don’t have access to a color therapist in your area? How can you use color to improve your life?
“There are many ways to stimulate the chakras other than wearing different colored sunglasses. For example, if you want to work on your throat chakra, you can wear blue, color a room blue, decorate with blue fabrics, blue candles, etc.”
“My treatment room is colored a light purple to help have patients’ crown chakra open for healing. I also wear purple-lensed sunglasses in my daily life which help my own crown chakra. I pick out my outfits in the morning depending on how I am feeling and what chakra I want to strength for the day. So if I feel my root chakra needs help, I will specifically wear red that day.”
So the next time you enter a room and feel calm or agitated, look around and see what colors are present. Look at our tile samples and see how they make you feel and then imagine being surrounded in that feeling. Does that feeling suit a kitchen where you might want a sense of vitality and optimism, or a bedroom where you may want to nurture a feeling of calm and serenity? Dr. Armistead helps us remember that spaces are both inner (your body and mind) and outer (your home and office), and that color transcends the surface to affect the beautifully essential.
Have you ever gone to a paint store, fell in love with a color, then came home and put it on your wall and your beautiful little heart sank? How did that warm “Bahamian Coral” (Ok, 80’s, I know) turn into the interior bathroom wall of One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest? Who knew that “Sea Breeze” was really lost-in-the-back-of-the-fridge pea soup? That’s where a color expert comes in.
“It is absolutely overwhelming to be confronted by seemingly millions of different colors, especially if you are also under time constraints,” says Jennifer Ott of Jennifer Ott Design. “Even if you don’t have the budget for full interior design services, you might be able to swing a quick consultation with a designer or color consultant. Many color pros will work for a fixed fee, or will charge hourly but are willing to take on small jobs — as little as a few hours worth.”
Jennifer’s company provides exterior color consultations to homeowners anywhere in the world. They use renderings and large-size paint swatches to help clients visualize the colors they recommend, all for a fixed fee starting as low as $395.
“When you factor in the cost of numerous unsuccessful paint samples, or, worse, the cost of having to repaint your entire house because you are unhappy with results, a few hundred dollars up front to get a great color palette can be a smart investment.”
For those of you that happen to live in the San Francisco Bay area, Jennifer can also help you with interior color consultation. But if you don’t, fear not! We have some handy Jennifer Ott tips just for you.
“When selecting color for a space, I advise clients to focus first on items that are big, expensive, and come in limited colors and patterns. By picking those items first, a palette will start to develop, and it’s easier to then add in things like tile, paint, and decorative accessories that come in all manner of colors and tend to be the less expensive items in a space. I find this is more successful than trying to select colors for everything in one fell swoop, which is almost always overwhelming and stressful.”
What about color trends? How do you update your home without running into the fear that soon it will become outdated? Jennifer advises to avoid trends unless you’re willing to change everything when the next trend comes along. She works closely with clients to help them figure out what colors they love and then advises them on the best way to incorporate them.
“I’m not a design tyrant or diva and I don’t let my ego get into the way. I want to partner with homeowners to find the best solutions to their design challenges. I crave and savor the back and forth interaction I have with clients who care about and are engaged in the process.”
What if you like bold, vibrant colors and lots of texture? How do you find the right balance? (Which is really the key to having it all!) Jennifer suggests that a good rule of thumb is to limit those colors to items or areas of your home that are deserving of the attention. If you have an item with an interesting texture that you want to highlight, it’s good to let it stand on it’s own and leave the bold colors to draw attention to shapes and forms.
“This is actually the basis of a successful light and neutral palette — you need to include items that have pleasing and varying textures, sheens, and finishes, to create a rich and interesting space. My most frequent piece of advice is to use bold colors for items that are relatively easy and affordable to change out — items such as paint, accent pillows, throws, etc. Neutrals are great for things you want to keep around for a good long time, such as your flooring, countertops, and cabinetry.
There are so many way to use color. You can use color to make a room seem larger, warmer or cozier.
“I follow the notion that cool colors visually recede and warm colors advance. So if you want to create a warm and cozy vibe, go for the warmer hues of red, orange, yellow or brown. If you are looking to make a room feel more open and expansive, go for the cooler hues of green, blue, purple, and gray. Darker colors usually feel heavy and somber, so I avoid using them in large amounts. They are best limited to accents in a room, and are actually great for adding drama to a space. I also tend to tailor the color palette to the homeowner’s climate. Those residing in cold and overcast climates should consider bringing in warmer tones, wheras those in hotter climates might favor cooler hues.”
So the key to having it all is working with a color specialist, clarifying what you love, and creating spaces and places that make you feel good.
“Color wakes us up. Gets the juices flowing.”
Color encompasses so much of our lives, that the more color we use, the more vibrant our lives become. We spoke to chef, actor, writer and all-around creative person, Glory Simon, about how she uses color in her life.
“Color is everything with cooking, whether it’s in the actual food ingredients, the presentation, or the dishes the food is being served on. We all know to eat our green vegetables, but all vegetables with vibrant colors are packed with nutrients.”
“For the past year, I’ve been rather obsessed with purple food. Purple is such a brightening color and it’s amazing to see how many foods exist in nature that are purple: purple carrots, cabbage, kale, chard, radishes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cauliflower etc etc etc. It’s also helpful when someone is on a restrictive diet to see lots of color on their plate.”
But if the food is good, does it really matter?
“The eye connects to the brain and to the salivary glands and prepares us for the meal. Color wakes us up. Gets the juices flowing. Creates excitement and drama.”
“I am always more excited by a meal that is painted with a rainbow of colors and it doesn’t have to be complicated or some sort of New American Molecular Gastronomy. It could just be chopping fresh basil on to your chicken or a slice of watermelon radish.”
A FUNCTIONAL KITCHEN = DELICIOUS FOOD
For Glory, who spends a lot time in the kitchen, her preference is for a kitchen that tends towards high-functionality.
“So many kitchens are not very functional. I like lots of white and steel where all the appliances are on one wall with maybe a large Island with lots of storage and perhaps even a small sink.”
In addition to the colorful foods she uses, she might bring color into the kitchen with accents like flowers, or pretty cookware.
COLOR AS METAPHOR
Whether you prefer simple food and a colorful kitchen, or a simple kitchen with colorful food (or both!), color has the ability to transcend the material to bring added dimension, diversity and beauty to our lives. Just how colorful we want our lives to be, is up to us. For Glory, her aspirations are full of “color”.
With clients, her aspirations are clear.
“My first thought is always that I want to make them happy. I want them to feel good and things to taste incredible. Satisfied, happy, healthy customers with a touch of decadence here and there. My clients are often shocked that healthy creations can taste so good!
Modwalls readers get a 10% discount off of Glory Simon’s private chef services such as menu planning, recipes, consultations and more. You can follow Glory @storyglory, see pix on at Riseshineglory or read her blog. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do you live with color? Tell us!
Shawn Dulaney has worked as a painter for over three decades. Her paintings can be found in extensive public collections worldwide, as well as in the private collections of author Annie Proulx, actor Steve Buscemi, artist Jo Andres, talk-show host Conan O’Brian and musician Stuart Copeland.
Her landscapes have also appeared in episodes of TV’s Sex & the City and Portlandia, the films It’s Complicated and Interview, and in the HBO series Enlightened. Her work has been reviewed in ARTnews Magazine and the New York Times, and has been featured in Parabola Magazine and New American Paintings.
Modwalls wanted to grab a few minutes with her to talk about her approach to color and design. She describes her work as “layered constructions of color merging to form spacious abstractions where nature references correspond to human emotional state.”
William Zimmer of the New York Times says, “Shawn Dulaney is deliberately out for grandeur. but she is also out for intimacy. Her paintings take advantage of their innate ambiguity and declare themselves to be very current in the thinking that lies behind them.”
How does color inform your work?
I love the alchemy that happens between physical materials, intuition and inspiration. I use color as the primary vehicle in attempting to create something experiential and ephemeral.
When I start a painting, I have a sense of what it will feel like at the end, then I begin to search for that feeling usually to find something else entirely. I may start with some reference, i.e. a cloud, a horizon, an event in nature, etc., and then it becomes a process of reducing that down to its essence. This way the color can be experienced as a metaphor or vehicle.
I am inspired, nourished and transported by color.
The art world, as in design, can be influenced by trends. How do you deal with the influence of trends in your work?
Trends don’t influence me. I try to be true to my own voice and essence. When I work, it requires a focus much like meditation where I empty my mind and become receptive. I know this spills over into my daily life. It helps keep me grounded and in the present moment.
To contact Shawn about her work, email email@example.com
Yumi Kagamihara is a designer and yoga practitioner who integrates color, design with intention, artistry and focus. At Modwalls, we believe that color and form merges well with function in an aspirational approach to living, so we were excited to talk with her about her approach to design and living well with color.
How did you come to Interior Design?
I started my career in the financial industry as a programmer back in Japan. In 1997, I moved to the United States and, after finishing graduate school in Texas, I worked in NYC as a business analyst/project manager for financial firms. While in NYC, my husband and I were thinking of relocating or finding a vacation home. So we purchased a new construction home in Tampa FL. We were allowed to choose different materials, paint colors and so on. That fascinated me. Even though I was working in the finance and technology area, I had always been very interested in the arts. The first class my parents took me to was a drawing class. I loved coloring and creating ‘crafty’ things. As a child, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I answered “designer”. Back then I did not know what type of designer, of course!
After more than 10 years in the financial industry I was considering a career change and possibly owning my own business – even though I still enjoyed my career in finance and technology. I researched and decided to enter New York School of Interior Design (NYSID) while still working full time. I took one class first to see if I would like it. Then slowly I took more classes to see if I could complete all the design projects. Most of the NYSID faculty members owned architecture or interior design firms. Before graduating, I received a job offer from my teacher who is principal of the architecture firm, JGArchitect. That was it! My design career started. After relocating to Kirkland WA, I started my own firm, Hatano Studio, LLC in 2009.
How did you come to yoga and why did you want to teach it as well as practice it?
I actually started yoga not so long ago in 2009. I would have never thought I would do yoga because I was not born flexible! After over 2 years of practice, I took the teacher training program to gain knowledge about yoga including history, philosophy and anatomical aspects of postures. I decided to teach as a continuation of my learning process.
Since yoga means union, how do you bring that to your yoga practice and your design work?
In yoga practice, we always try to feel or direct prana (life force). I like the openness and flow happening in my mind and body when I practice.
The same for interior design: I want the space to flow, not to be forced. When the space is right, I think we can be healthier, think clearer, and be happier.
As a yoga teacher, I prepare the sequence of moves or postures for class. I want this sequence to be challenging, interesting, and beautiful. Ultimately I want students to feel good in their body and mind. Unnecessary things may need to be removed. Simplifying may increase their end results more. This similar process happens during my design process.
Are there other elements of yoga philosophy that you apply to design?
One of my favorite methods/ideas in Yoga Sutra by Patanjali (one of the foundational texts of yoga) is “Kriya Yoga”. It consists of three words: self-discipline or passion, self-study, and surrender. You apply self-study, discover your own traits, boundaries, or areas where actions are needed. You need desire and discipline to practice or change things. You try your best but are not attached to the outcome, simply letting go or surrendering. It is not only in design, but I try to apply this throughout my life,
You wear some pretty colorful and stylish yoga gear. How important is color in your life?
I enjoy coordinating colors in my yoga wear. Depending on my mood, I pick different colors every day.
The combination of colors creates different synergy. That makes me happy!
The good thing is that clothes are not permanent so you can be as bold as you want to. On the other hand, tile colors are difficult to change daily. ;)
How do you use color in your design?
Colors are very personal and impacted by the environment, especially the sun. I like many different colors. Some clients will give me a strong vibe for a certain color or color scheme. I will explore that.
I like color to be united and each one has a role to play in the whole.
If someone is new to yoga, or wanting to start a new renovation, what advice can you offer them?
Find a good guide! Having a great yoga teacher who is knowledgeable of the philosophy, tradition, anatomy and postures can enhance your whole experience. It takes time and patience to identify the teacher, but it is critical if you really want to deepen your practice.
The same goes for renovation. Finding a good guide, interior designer or architect will elevate the quality of your finished product. They can provide an analytical explanation and technical guidance to achieve your goal – favorite space.
Modwalls wants to know about your passions and how they involve color and design so let us know!