An Interview with Karen Haller

Karen Haller featured image

We held an interview with one of our patron sponsors, Karen Haller about her interests, career and an insight into her newly released project, the Little Book of Colour. Continue reading to discover more about the life of a colour psychologist.

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

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.

And ever since then the thing that absolutely fascinates me about colour is its incredible power to influence how you think, feel and behave – in an instant.

I instinctively knew this even when I was little, but it wasn’t until I discovered the world of applied colour psychology that all my burning questions around why we respond to colour the way we do began to be answered.

It’s like I stepped into this world of colour alchemy discovering how colour can help boost your confidence, feel happier – changing your mood in an instant.

And now I’m on a mission to share with the rest of the world how amazing colour can make you feel

How did this interest end up translate into your career?

It was when I was studying fashion design and millinery in my native Australia. I remember I was putting dark chocolate brown feathers on a teal blue felt hat and I had one of those epiphany moments. Just seeing the impact of the colours together stopped me in my tracks and I thought, “It’s colour! That’s where I need to go!”

So I began a year-long course at the International School of Colour and Design, which was fantastic but for me only scratched the surface. I wanted to go deeper into how we respond to colour and whether in fact it could be used to enhance emotions in order to modify behaviour.

After quite a lot of searching I came across the highly researched, but seldom utilised area of Applied Colour Psychology and I’ve been implementing this science both as a consultant to businesses, brands, corporations, healthcare and wellbeing and a teacher.

My aim is to reconnect people back to the wonderful world of colour.

What is a typical ‘day in the life’ of an applied colour and design psychology consultant?

That’s one of the many things I love about my work, it’s so varied, there’s no typical day which really appeals to my love of variety.

I get to play with colour every day in a multitude of ways.

In my role as an Applied Colour & Design Psychology teacher I teach (my students who are often design industry professionals such as interior designers, graphic designers, architects, product designers) behavioural design for which applied colour and design psychology is a major part. This attracts designers who wish to upskill and focus on wellbeing and human centred design.

Most days I’m also working on projects for major brands, on colour campaigns, looking at the colours behind the launch of a new product or implementing behavioural design to corporate office spaces, or in healthcare.

I also get to do lots of fun stuff to promote the depth and diversity of colour whether that’s doing interviews for major magazines or newspapers or giving talks, on panel discussions at major design shows, exhibitions and organisations, mixing colours, interactive workshops which is really fun as I get to share and spread the love of colour and help everyone see and understand how much colour can impact how they think, feel and behave.

What is the biggest misconception people have about your work?

What most people don’t realise is just how deeply colour can influence how we think, feel and behave. Colour has such a huge emotional connection and most people just don’t realise the extent of it.

This often plays out in initial queries that I get when people want to work with me. Their understanding is that red means energy or anger and blue means calming and so they often looking for a one-size-fits-all solution. I show them why there’s no cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all solution.

But in fact, how colour influences us is a complex thing. But what is wonderful about that is when you understand how to use colour in this way it can have such a positive, constructive impact on people and spaces and outcomes. When people grasp this it’s like a lightbulb goes off and they want to use colour in this way. Working with colour can be life changing.

I’ve developed a methodology that I’ve refined over the years to achieve the best possible outcomes. It’s still commonplace that people will say why can’t you just tell me. The analogy I often used is a bit like someone going to the doctor with a sore knee. The sore knee is a symptom, but he needs to do an assessment to find out the cause of it, what lies beneath. My approach with Applied Colour & Design Psychology is similar. An assessment is required to find out the pieces that need to come together in order to create the right positive outcome you’re looking for.

Do you have a favourite colour? If so, why?

This is a tricky one – it’s like being asked to pick your favourite child! But if I had to pick one it would be orange, like the colour you see on a Calendula Marigold flower – that bright, warm orange. It makes me smile inside whenever I see it, it connects me to my playful side of my personality and it’s a reminder not to forget to have fun. And hot on its heels would be sunshine yellow. I just love these two colours together.

And what about your least favourite?

I’m not a fan of brilliant white which you find in paint colours. It’s the only colour that isn’t sourced from nature – It just makes me shudder. Why someone thought it needed to be invented it is beyond me!

And I can do without grey skies…

What is your new book ‘The Little Book of Colour’ all about?

At its absolute essence The Little Book on Colour is helping people how to use colour to live authentic, joyful and natural lives – how to use colour to express the essence of who you are and how to live from the inside out in your own unique style.
Through the psychology of colour, I’m showing you how to do this – to shine more brightly, to express essence of yourself, using the power to transform your Life.
This book was written for everyone who loves colour, wants to fall back in love with colour again and who really wants to understand how powerful a tool it is. To actually get to use it in their daily lives to feel better in their clothes, create homes that feel harmonious to be in, who want to use colour to actually feel better and boost their wellbeing because these are all the things that colour can innately do. So if someone wants to improve an area of their life and find out how to use colour to do that, then that’s who would love to read this book.

Where can we find it! 

Just pop over to the little book of colour website where you’ll be able to get the book. There’s also lots of colourful stories and great interviews from colour lovers from around the world and colourful events, workshops and classes.

If you could encourage people to embrace one thing about colour, what would it be?

Pick the colours that YOU love, that make you feel good. It’s easy to get caught up in trend colours but they’re only worthwhile if they make you happier, more confident, more uplifted. Don’t worry about what other people think about your colour choices. Colour is very personal. Trust your intuition, your gut feeling. That’s how you should be choosing your colours – on how they make you feel. So go out there explore and have fun with it but most of all surround yourself with colours that make you feel good.

What is the best way for people to keep up to date with what you’re doing? 

I’m active across all social media, so just pop over to my profiles which is where I share my colour stories and musings. You can follow my accounts on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook – see you there!

About the speaker: Karen Haller

Internationally renowned as an advanced colour theory mentor and trainer, helping industry professionals across the globe to transform their businesses through applying colour & design psychology in diverse sectors such as interior design and architecture, branding and product development, healthcare and wellbeing. She consults with organisations and individuals on using colour to influence behaviour and opinion in order to elicit positive response or action.

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