‘Color Talk’ with Karen Haller

This week I want to introduce you to the UK’s Applied Color Psychology expert, Karen Haller.

Karen Haller is the leading international authority in Applied Color Psychology – how color affects and influences our behavior. With over twenty years of experience, she teaches, consults for businesses, interiors, healthcare, and well-being; and has worked with prestigious global brands such as Marks and Spencer, Dove, and AkzoNobel Dulux.

Karen Haller is also the author of the hugely successful “The Little Book of Colour: How to Use the Power of Colour to Transform Your Life“.

It is thanks to Karen that I discovered this fascinating world of color psychology, she has been my teacher and mentor.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Karen and asked her 11 questions about color and design.

Enjoy the reading!

Welcome, Karen! Here are 11 questions for you:

How did you first become interested in the world of color?

I’ve loved colour since I was a little girl. I can still vividly remember a time in kindergarten when I was sitting in front of pots of paint and crayons and being beyond excited because I had all of these colours to play with. My biggest challenge was deciding which colours to use first!

From that moment I was hooked – and ever since it’s felt like I’ve had colour in my veins.

I first became conscious of my fascination with colour when I was studying millinery in Sydney, Australia. I was working on a teal felt hat and adding chocolate brown feathers when suddenly, I heard myself say, “Oh my God, it’s colour.” That was my first epiphany moment.

From there, I pursued my passion for colour and took every course I could find. But it wasn’t until I came to the UK and attended a workshop with Angela Wright that I discovered what I was truly looking for – colour psychology. That was my second epiphany moment. I went on to study Applied Color and Design Psychology with Angela.

For over 15 years, I have been helping businesses and design professionals use color and design to improve well-being and make a positive impact in the world. And now, as a teacher of design professionals, I have the opportunity to pass on my knowledge to others, like the students in my 6-month course which is where I met you.

What drives you and your work?

As someone who is deeply fascinated by human behaviour, I always look for patterns to understand our behaviour and why we do what we do. And with my work, I translate that into colour.

It brings me so much joy to see the positive impact that colour has on people and how they think, feel and behave, and how colour can be used as a form of self-expression to connect them to their true, authentic selves.

Since my book, “The Little Book of Colour” (it’s in French too!) was published in late 2019, I have been overwhelmed by the response from people who have rediscovered their love for colour and used it to express their true selves. Every day, I receive emails or messages on social media from people sharing their stories and telling me how my reading my book has helped them. This is pure joy for me.

What is the biggest misconception people have about your work?

There are so many. In fact, I wrote an e-book on this sharing the 10 biggest myths about colour.

The biggest misconception that I hear is that our colour knowledge starts and stops at the colour wheel. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. After 20 years+ of diving into colour, there are so many layers and nuances to learning and applying colour when it comes to applied colour & design psychology because it can be applied to every situation and every aspect of your life to create positive outcomes. But as you know Josephine, taking been through my 6-month course, you know the depth and that it takes time to learn.

Can you talk a little more about what color means to you personally?

For me colour is life, it’s like breathing. Without it, I would feel like a piece of me was missing.  Colour is a form of self-expression. I can express who I am through the colours I wear and the colours I surround myself with. I feel so blessed to have a job that allows me to pursue my passion for colour every day. It’s truly a dream come true.

How would you explain the fact that color influences our emotional state of mind?

This is the really fascinating thing about colour. We often think of colour as being something purely visual, but it is much more than that.

When light enters our eyes, the light waves travel to the part of the brain that governs our bodily functions like metabolism, appetite, and body temperature along with other functions. What that means is that colour isn’t just a visual stimulus, those light waves create a physiological change within us. In psychological terms, it delivers an emotional experience.

Other than using color to influence positive behaviors and well-being, why does color play such a crucial role?

Colour is such a powerful tool for self-expression. It allows us to show our personality without having to saying a word. Every colour has its own emotional traits and when we choose to wear or surround ourselves with particular colours, we are communicating something about ourselves to the world. Whether it’s bold and bright to show an outgoing confidence, soft and soothing to show calmness and everything in-between, colour speaks volumes. I find it amazing that we can wear different colours every day, depending how we are feeling, want to feel, or how we would like others to interact with us. It’s truly amazing how colour can bring our inner selves to life in such a beautiful way.

Should we be using the same colors in our home as we do in our wardrobe and why?

If colour expresses our personality, then the colours that we wear are an expression of our personality and the way that we decorate our home is an expression of our personality too. For example, my primary personality is spring so the colour palette I use for myself and my home are all found in nature’s true springtime colour palette. So yes, it would be natural that we would be using the same colours in our home as in our wardrobe.

If someone reading this was thinking about styling their own home, what advice would you give them?

Probably the best piece of advice I could give is to not follow trends. Not to follow how influencers or your favourite celebrity decorate their home. This is about you and your home. Connect to the colours that you love, that express who you are, and that will support you in a positive way in how you want to feel in your own home. Ultimately you want a home that you love and loves you back.

What is your seasonal palette and which colors do you love to wear? How do they make you feel?

My primary seasonal colour palette is spring, just like the colours that you would see in a true spring setting. I love to wear all the colours of my palette from the very soft soothing apricot and sky blue, soft lilac and baby pink through to the brighter sunshine yellow, marigold orange and periwinkle blue.

Are there any colors that you actively dislike?

From a personal perspective, I’m not a fan of magenta pink which isn’t surprising as it’s not in my spring colour family. I admire it and it looks great on the right person and setting, but I just don’t resonate with it. The colour just drains me.  I also don’t feel comfortable if I am in a place where a lot of that colour is used. I feel tired very quickly because I find it overwhelming. So magenta isn’t wrong, it’s just not right for me.

Your last great colorful buy?

I’m always buying plants and flowers. I think it was my orange lampshade that goes perfectly with my gold toucan lamp base. And then last weekend I bought lots of ribbons from a fabulous ribbon store in London. I’m always finding colourful things!

Thank you very much Karen for this great chat and enrichment!

Would you like to know more about Karen Haller?

Click here to find out more.