Podcast: 'Dopamine color' to decorate your home

Liu Xiaolin
In the post-pandemic era, the fashion world seems to be picking up on a trend of "dopamine dressing." How are colors tied to our emotions?
Liu Xiaolin

Podcast: EP33

In the post-pandemic era, the fashion world seems to be picking up on a trend of "dopamine dressing," which basically means to dress yourself with colors, textiles and cuttings that can lift your mood.

How are colors tied to our emotions? Is there any similar "dopamine way" in other parts of daily life? We talked to two color experts: Mark Kwok, president of AkzoNobel China and North Asia; and Heleen van Gent, creative director of AkzoNobel's Global Aesthetic Center.

Podcast: 'Dopamine color' to decorate your home
Ti Gong

Wild Wonder, AkzoNobel's Color of 2023

Q: Name a color that describes you.

Mark: I would choose the color of the bright sky. Every year, our company does the Color of the Year. Last year, we had this Color of 2022 called Bright Skies. In 2020, COVID had a really huge impact on the world, including China. At the time, we were almost locked at home, taking a lot of precautions. But looking at the bright, shining skies, you felt there were more possibilities. And also, the sky means no limit. It matches with my character: energetic, no limits in doing business.

Heleen: Being a consumer myself, I think I'm just influenced by things happening around me, just like everyone else. To tell you the truth, I think, Wild Wonder, the Color of 2023, is really the color that describes me at the moment. I'm also very much aware of the fact that nature is important for us, and I do want to have nature in my home, on my walls to give this positive, glowing, energetic feel to my house. I'm definitely a Wild Wonder person for this year.

Podcast: 'Dopamine color' to decorate your home
Ti Gong

Heleen van Gent, creative director of AkzoNobel's Global Aesthetic Center

Q: What messages do colors usually convey?

Mark: Color is almost an essential power of life. For us, as a company, we call a color a painting of our service. Let's say in China, one third of every surface, you'll find our paints. They reflect your lifestyle, personality. Colors make your life much more livable and enjoyable.

Heleen: Color is personal, so you might perceive colors very differently from your friends or your family. It's also a generational thing. That's why we have four color pallets that you can combine with our color of the year.

There's also the divide between genders. A pink and a light blue, for example, are already something that women and men will probably make different choices in. I can only say that there are some common values. Yellow tone brings joy, whereas colors from nature have this biophilic effect on our homes. Green in nature brings peace, calm and concentration. Red, of course, brings energy. So, there are some values or some emotions linked to color.

Podcast: 'Dopamine color' to decorate your home
Ti Gong

Mark Kwok, president of AkzoNobel China and North Asia

Q: How do you think colors are tied to our emotions and affect our mood, and how to put to use the psychological effects of color in home decoration?

Mark: Nowadays, there are a lot of issues around the world – inflation in other countries, economic slowdown in China and the pandemic. Sometimes people feel they have no control over things. When looking at our Color of 2023, it feels you are more connected to the world and environment, and feel much more positive. I think it's really refreshing on the psychological side.

Compared to the global décor market, the choice of color in the China market is still less developed. The color adoption is around 25-30 percent, while in the Western market it is almost total. We still can make our homes much more livable with more colors.

Heleen: I think that in challenging times when the world outside is a bit gloomy and dark, we tend to make our home into a space that makes us feel better. That's how we lift our spirit. It's really how people are reacting to the circumstances of the economy and the social environment.

I think what came out of our research is that nature is not in a good shape, with global warming and things happening to Mother Earth. That's why we really like the beautiful colors that nature can inspire us with. And of course one color is never a standalone. We'd like to make color combinations and therefore we have four color palettes – Lush, Raw, Buzz and Flow.

If you want to have those biophilic natural colors, such as the greens and the lilacs of the Lush color palette, then put those greens on the wall, combine them with Wild Wonder. And there are these lilac tones that I think give a bit of misty haze to this color palette, making it soft and a bit mysterious.

If you need something more uplifting and more feminine, you can use our Buzz palette, a combination of reds, oranges, pinks and all the colors from a flower meadow. The quality of wall paint color is different from that of a blouse or a sweater. It needs to be on the wall, 365 days a year. So it has to stand out, to make you happy and to represent the mood of the moment. And at the same time it shouldn't shout too much.

Q: What's your "dopamine color?"

Mark: I like the color of the bright sky. Nowadays in China, we see the trend of consumers using colors on the ceiling, not just plain white anymore. Same thing on the doors as well. I have a blue door in my home.

Heleen: I'm a very visual person, seeing beautiful colors and environment makes me extremely happy. Sorry I'm going to sound super boring but for this year it's really this yellow, and so that's my hero color. But I'd like to add a bit of more "dopamine." I'm very much attracted to the pinks and the oranges. I think they create this lovely, energizing environment, and at the same time they're soft, feminine and friendly. So that's the color group that I really recognize myself in and I'd like to surround myself with for this year.

Podcast: 'Dopamine color' to decorate your home
Ti Gong

A lighting with a red stand

Q: Name one item you lately purchased for its color.

Mark: I recently bought a lighting with a red stand. My home is much of the bright-sky color, so for the accessory furniture, I want it to be more colorful. I put the lamp on the desk in my study. Every time I turn on the light, I feel much more energized and enjoyable.

Heleen: I bought beautiful cushions for my sofa. They have an element of neutral but there are very bright yellow tones in them as well, and so they connect my neutral sofa with the back wall. It's really so nice to see all those yellows. They put a smile on my face.

Podcast: 'Dopamine color' to decorate your home
Ti Gong

Cushions with an element of neutral

Q: How do you usually unwind and detox from daily struggles?

Mark: I'm a sports person, a huge soccer fan. I play soccer every Saturday. It really requires some teamwork. After the games, we usually have some beers. It's so relaxing. I also read and watch movies.

Heleen: I like beautiful things. I'd love going to museums or to the theater, surrounding myself with beauty.

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