How do you decide color when designing?

Awhile back, I found myself wondering how everyone else was applying color to their designs, regardless of what design discipline they are in. My background is in industrial design, but I think many designers would agree that we dapple in multiple design disciplines. In doing that, it’s hard not to realize how important color is in all arenas.

This pondering has gone on for some time and has now progressed to a guiding question in my graduate thesis at the University of Cincinnati.

So tell me, how are you doing it?

I’m hoping to get some feedback via survey that typically takes less than 5 minutes – Applying Color in Design Survey

If you don’t think you have time for that but want to contribute any ideas or comments here, please do =) anything helps!

i personally use colors connected with the initial referents and concept, i check the research pictures, referents, materials etc… i know some people that usually use seasonal color catalogs especially for graphic, web and fashion design.
In industrial design sometimes we just leave the material as it is and enhance it beauty. i wonder how people that usually work with plastics, soft-goods and materials that allow high range of colors how they do it. will be good if you share some of your results with us when you finish your research, good luck.

We do a combination of internal trend research and plotting balanced with retail marketplace parameters.

Similar to yo, trending + brand & positioning strategy drive color choices.

I would love to share results once my research is finished. Thanks all for the feedback thus far!

Sgoochoa, yo, and iab – may I ask what field(s) of design are you in?

Whatever choice you make, whether it be color or anything else, just make sure you have a defensible position. By that I mean avoid arbitrary decision making at all costs. Be objective. Use consistent evaluation criteria. If there are no evaluation criteria than create some. You never want to be asked why you decided to do something and have the answer be “I don’t know, I just did”. Confidence instilling? Not so much.

Pick any color you want as long as it’s red. - TW

I think that is good advice. A few questions that might help you to down select:

Does this product need to stand out or fit in?
Does it need to look technical, commercial, fashionable, young, mature, etc?
Who is the target user and what are the common colors of other objects in their life?
Do you need to use color functional to draw attention to a specific feature or alert users to a specific hazard?

Or the classic Henry Ford, to paraphrase “You can have it any color you want, as long as it’s black.”

You sound like a retail buyer :slight_smile: