November 22nd, 2022 - Brand

Colour boosts the happy hormone

When we moved last year, I had a brief affair with a well-known interior designer. I sought help integrating some of our already-owned pieces with our new space. However, it soon became apparent that she thought my beloved belongings were too much. Too eclectic. Too much pattern. And above all, way too much colour.

In our dining room alone, I was quickly told to ditch my vintage Persian rug, recover my fabulous mid-century dining room chairs, repurpose my Spanish crystal lamps (preferably to a guest room) and perhaps remove the lime green velvet dining bench from the equation.

Did I say affair? Perhaps we should call it an awkward first date.

As far back as I can remember, I have lived colourfully. Colour holds emotional symbolism and ties us to the land around us. Think glorious turquoise waves, green leaves budding in springtime, and perfectly pink peonies celebrating summer. Folk cultures around the world have celebrated colour since the beginning of time, but now sadly, colour is disappearing from our world. A recent artificial intelligence study tracked colour changes, documenting thousands of items from the 1800s to now. Two centuries ago, there was a mix of different colours, with black/white/gray tones representing only 15 percent of all items. Today, that number – everything around us covered in black, white, and grey – is at 60 percent and rising.

It seems that in a sea of sameness, gray becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Given the trend to nothingness, designers think that people must love gray, so they decree that gray is ‘in’. Frankly, what they mean is ‘safe’. By creating spaces – homes, offices, cars, clothing lines, websites – that are neutral, no one gets offended. And no one gets excited either. No warmth, no feelings, no personality.

This is a bar set so frightfully low it worries me. Have we become a world that’s afraid to feel, to stand out, to be bold, to be different?

I don’t think so. I believe people are still attracted to colour and living boldly. When people walk into our home from the cold, white snowy world of Calgary that’s with us six months of the year, they visibly gasp. Greens, turquoise, hot pink, and deep golds surround you like a hug when you come through the door, along with big tropical plants and a healthy dose of Mexican folk art. And often, after the gasp, they ask if I can help them breathe life into their homes.

I do the same for businesses, creating brands far from safe, websites that compel a strong reaction, and bios that pop off the page with bold words and photos that make your clients smile.

Beauty is born of colour and personality, and we, as humans, are drawn to aesthetic artworks and experiences. We love the rush of dopamine that we’re rewarded with when we look at or experience something achingly beautiful. And by beautiful, I’m not talking about Jennifer Lopez or Kim Kardashian. I’m talking about colours, images, sounds, movements, and even words that compel, evoke, and make us feel first and think second.

If you’re interested in creating something special, a home that feels like a warm embrace, a wardrobe that makes people stop and compliment you, or a brand that compels visitors to become buyers, get in touch. We offer a full suite of personal and professional branding services. And if you’re curious to learn more, check out the brand spotlight below to see how we infused personality into a law firm’s black-and-white approach to brand.

With gratitude,

Shannon Larkins

Shannon Larkins

Founder, Blackcoffee Studio

Over the course of 15+ years, Shannon has grown Blackcoffee Studio out of a love for building brands and reputations. She serves up Blackcoffee as a morning ritual while caffeinating clients and readers on the regular. You can find her at


Blackcoffee Studio

Blackcoffee is a premium brand development agency, offering luxury brand experience to clients at home in Calgary, Canada and around the globe. Brands create experience, set you apart from the competition and drive growth. Anyone can bulid a business but only the exceptional can create a brand. Are you ready?

Shannon Larkins

Shannon Larkins

Hi I’m Shannon, founder of Blackcoffee Studio. A former reporter, spin doctor and politico, I now focus on using my powers for good.

I create mighty brands for clients and share their stories with the world. I’m also rather addicted to my nutty family, dogs with pushed in faces, Mexico and of course coffee … black.