Colors = Meaning

umlautthoni's picture

This is a very unscientific survey, but I wanted to poll fellow designers to get their own thoughts on what specific color(s) come to mind when they hear the word hygiene.

Any and all input is welcomed/encouraged.

Thank you very much for your time.

Hi's picture

white

Ehague's picture

Dentist blue-green.

Hofweber's picture

Baby blue. I just imagine all the different scrubs colors on the show "Scrubs."

Gus Winterbottom's picture

Institutional green and drunk-tank pink.

blank's picture

White.

Mostly because Kenya Hara used white cotton signage in two hospitals, which the staff have to constantly clean to remind the visitors that the hospital is in fact hygienic.

umlautthoni's picture

I first thought of white as well. I was reminded of the article written by Luke Williams of Frog Design comparing the iPod to bathroom fixtures.
www.frogdesign.com/design-mind/articles/early-articles/the-ipod-and-the-...

I then went the way of dr's/nurses' scrubs: powder blue only to find out that the color is called ceil blue. Webster defines ceil as:

ceil

Main Entry: ceil
Function: transitive verb
Etymology: Middle English celen, from Medieval Latin celare, caelare, perhaps from Latin caelare to carve, from caelum chisel; akin to Latin caedere to cut
Date: 15th century
1 : to furnish (as a wooden ship) with a lining
2 : to furnish with a ceiling

To me, it had no real connection to the color blue. I know cielo means sky in Italian. That makes much more sense to me than Webster's definition. I had never heard of ceil blue before and thought it a color made up by a company making scrubs. Apparently it has transcended that market and made its way into shoes, necklaces, etc. Have any of you heard of ceil blue before and possibly know its origins?

aluminum's picture

in general, white, or any cool pastel. Or, most cool colors in general (the blues and greens)

NOT any warm, or deep colors.

pattyfab's picture

White.

Secondarily I might think of surgical scrub blue or blue/green, but really white came to mind first.

Sharon Van Lieu's picture

White for sure.

Scalfin's picture

I must say that it would probably a highly pale blue-green.

Temple Grandin has said that yellow is fear.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Pastels.

umlautthoni's picture

Do any of you own a white toothbrush? I'm guessing no. What word is most associated with hygiene in terms of body, IMHO, oral. Oral hygiene. I hear it on the radio, tv, print ads etc. Yet, none of us has a toothbrush that is white. With the advent of the two-shot injection molding process, toothbrushes have gone crazy with color and texture. I find it fascinating that white comes to mind most often as the color associated with hygiene, yet something we place in our own mouth to clean our white (hopefully) teeth is a myriad of colors/textures that don't necessarily evoke hygiene. Yet when we clean our ears its with a white cotton tip.

The thoughts that keep me up at night. . .

Sharon Van Lieu's picture

Hate to pop any soap bubbles but my toothbrush is white. :-)

umlautthoni's picture

Niiiiice. . . I never even considered an electric tootbrush. Probably because I can't afford one myself ;) Now I can sleep tonight.

pattyfab's picture

OK I thought about this while showering in my nice white bathroom. White makes obvious sense - it's the color of nurse's uniforms, porcelain sinks, cleanliness etc. But why the insipid pastels? I think it's because those are colors that don't come out of our bodies. Red (blood), yellow (pus, pee), brown (well you know) etc - none of those more natural colors would work to suggest hygiene.

My toothbrush is white too - and royal blue. It's one of those battery operated jobbies from Oral B.

Ehague's picture

Interesting idea about the toothbrush. I spent a few minutes googling and couldn't turn up any toothbrushes with brown detailing.

Gus Winterbottom's picture

> Why the insipid pastels?

"The use of green in surgical operating rooms is, in fact, an effort to neutralize the constant exposure of the surgeon to the red-violet of human organ tissue so as to prevent spatial depth illusions." -- Aspects of Color (pdf)

Miss Tiffany's picture

I said pastels because you see them in hospitals. But if I'm asked to design something hygienic the idea of white with bright full saturation colors are obvious to me. No dirt, no gray, no brown, just crisp colors bouncing off the crisp white. Like these toothbrush samples.

umlautthoni's picture

Patty it's interesting that you bring up colors of the body. Aurelius Cornelius Celsus in the first century A.D. would apply remedies based on the colors of the flowers used to produce his remedies; red flowers were used to cure diseases of the blood/yellow ones used to cure disease of the biliary system.

He also spoke of yellow, "Saffron onintment with iris-oil applied to the head, acts in procuring sleep, and in tranquilizing the mind."

I always associated saffron yellow to be alive, vibrant/filled with energy, not something that would sooth or tranquilize my mind.

poms's picture

>hygiene
white

but also a light cyan or a light rose.

Ok, i'm talking about cleanness but that's not far from hygiene …
I was told that the turkish people, if they think of clean laundry, prefer a light touch of rose instead of the "western european folks" that "forced into" light tinge cyan/blue.

For me it could be a bright, but very light "grassgreen" too. Or a light bright yellow, hehe.

sondre m's picture

I'd go with blue actually.

russellm's picture

you will never see a TV ad for an absorbent product that used any colour other than a light cool blue liquid in the demo. Just about any other colour could represent some (probably vile) bodily fluid. Blue's the way to go.

-=®=-

aszszelp's picture

Well, why do we all associate white (or equally: pale pastels) with hygenie? Because since the 19th century doctors and nurses started wearing white* as they realised how infection works, and figured that most things infecting would leave a stain, so possibly biohazardous material could be identified by stains (best visible on white)...

*) Before that doctors would wear "everyday" clothes, or possibly clothing specific to their profession, but rather in fashion.

pattyfab's picture

cite>you will never see a TV ad for an absorbent product that used any colour other than a light cool blue liquid in the demo. Just about any other colour could represent some (probably vile) bodily fluid. Blue’s the way to go.

but when they introduced Ivory Clear, I bought it right away. I didn't buy Pepsi Clear tho (ick).

I associate the colors they add to cleaning products with artificial chemicals that will end up in the environment. My organic dish soap is body-fluid-yellow/brown.

umlautthoni's picture

It is interesting though, that any absorbent material meant for the body is white, band aids, q-tips, cotton balls, etc.

Hiroshige's picture

Contrary to popular belief, White is not a colour. And is never seen as colour. White is achromatic - without hue. The grayscale, achromatic scale, is an amazing thang in itself - but should never be confused or misinterpreted as Colour. I see white and black, as extremes on the grayscale - neutrals.

Black is understood to be as pure as White. Pure, as in 'complete'. Colours, on the other hand, are a groovy bunch of frequencies each with a long long history. A nice site for colourists is colourlovers dot com.

When I think of the word 'hygiene' in terms of colour design and medical profession, I think of a colour in relation to white. But really any colour can also be presented in a relationship with Black, or any other gradation of the achromatic scale for that matter, to also represent 'hygiene'. What kind of cleansing/hygiene are we talking about?

Religious?
Fashion?
Techno?
Type?
Architecture?
Medical?
Tribal?

umlautthoni's picture

Religious hygiene?
Fashion hygiene?

Forgive me for my naivete, but I never really associated hygiene with anything else but medical/health. For my own edification, could you please site some examples of techno hygiene, typographic hygiene, etc?

Scalfin's picture

If a pastel is a different color from its high-saturated cousin, than white is a color, as it is the pastel of all.

ebensorkin's picture

Barbicide blue probably.

aszszelp's picture

Colour does not mean "having a hue". That's what the word hue is for :-). It's the effect of perception of electromagnetic waves via the eye as processed by the brain. White is part of it, as is any other colour.

White is a bunch of different frequencies (incidentally: _all_ the frequencies human sight cells can process) as are most other colours having a hue (except for the ones in the rainbooow!)

There is a describable difference between white and any other colour (as is between any two "hueful" colours), but no fundamental one (as there is none between two "colours" as proposed by you).

White _is_ a colour. Perfect black is one as well. While perfect black is arguably the _lack_ of electromagnetic waves, there exists the perception of this lack via the eyes as processed by the brain; that is the _colour_ black.

Ch's picture

white with pale blue depth, like icebergs.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Definitely not yellow. Yellow is dirt, poorly filtered water. So that pastel and all shades in between is out.

umlautthoni's picture

Beautiful photograph. Did you take it?

Jennifer's picture

Blue

oprion's picture

Hygiene.

Brownish red on dirty white. Stenciled letters, surrounded by an impenetrable wall of crudely drawn illustrations of anthropomorphic animals engaging in hygienic activities.

Predominately warm colors, with secondary accents of yellow and green.
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russellm's picture

There s no such a thing as white. It's a mathematical concept, like a straight line.

:¬)

-=®=-

Hiroshige's picture

Religious hygiene?
Fashion hygiene?

Forgive me for my naivete, but I never really associated hygiene with anything else but medical/health. For my own edification, could you please site some examples of techno hygiene, typographic hygiene, etc?

To me and my oh so laterally bent brain, hygiene is a state - which has been reached by going from here to there.

So... religious hygiene could be represented by the blood of Christ (or perhaps by the blood of us), with some catholic priests as subject matter? Fashion hygiene has already been done by McQueen. Techno, in terms by the Grunge movement. Typographic, in terms by vector organic flair (ie.Neil Duerden?).

I'm beginning to babble... but it seems to me that there are lots and lots of different kinds of 'hygiene' ...no?

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