Interview With Colour Expert Karen Haller

The Little Book Of Colour by Karen Haller

Did you catch my live interview with colour expert, Karen Haller, on my Instagram account?

Karen, the UK’s best known Applied Colour Psychology expert, joined me to reveal the winner of her book, The Little Book Of Colour, which was the prize on offer on my Instagram ‘give-away’.

The Little Book Of Colour by Karen Haller
The Little Book Of Colour by Karen Haller

Here are the edited highlights of our conversation:

I opened the conversation by asking Karen to tell us about her book

In 2017, after working with colour for many years, Karen had come to the conclusion that although people loved colour they also feared it. They were afraid of getting it wrong.

When Penguin asked Karen to write the book she decided that this was a good opportunity to help people overcome their fear. She said that as children everyone has an innate connection to colour and she wanted to reignite this connection. She wanted to encourage people to express themselves through colour and, as a result, reconnect with themselves.

The book was written for the everyday person the world over and has been translated into 14 languages. It has been a particular success with designers. It has helped them to better understand their clients and for them to have more constructive conversations.

We then went on to talk about how some colours are not recognised globally

Lots of countries don’t have words for specific colours. In the 1960’s a great deal of research was carried out which resulted in the 11 main colours. These were the terms discovered across most countries and cultures and in most languages.

There maybe a scientific reason for not agreeing a colour scheme

Terms also differ between the sexes. I dared to touch on the topic of men and women seeing colour differently. Karen explained that these differences go way back. In general women have learned a greater vocabulary around colour.

After 15 minutes we took a break to announce the winner

Congratulations were offered by both myself and Karen to @sosocial_minnie.

We continued our talk about colour and the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown

Karen opened the conversation by stating that colour is definitely making a comeback. Since lockdown people are moving away from their beige, grey, and white interiors and bringing in a lot more colour. There’s a really big change. People are becoming far more adventurous. As they are not going outside anymore for emotional stimulation they are bringing it into their home through colour. The level of saturation makes it more lively.

Bringing the outside in

I asked about the colour green and whether Karen had found this had grown in popularity as we all try to bring the outside in

She agreed. Especially, in the UK, forest, green pasture, green lush countryside, is all very familiar and that is what people were bringing indoors. Karen also noted that people residing by the coast were bringing in different colours, but for the same reason; they connect too. People tend to default to nature being green but everything apart from pure white is in nature.

I asked Karen about her many skills

She said that she is not just a writer. Her London based business revolves around behavioural and colour and design psychology which includes branding, interiors for offices, health care, colour in the home, paint ranges, to name a few. Every business in is the colour business. Her client’s are those that use colour for positive good and positive change. It is a great niche as it is a universal topic that everyone loves. Typically people are only 20% conscious about colours they use. Karen hopes The Little Book Of Colour will change this.

A white hospital
White isn’t necessarily good colour to aid recovery

I brought up the topic of healthcare as I had recently tuned into a webinar discussing the use of colour for dementia patients

Karen agreed that in care homes the fashion was for everything to be very white as it was easy for the staff to keep clean. Whilst this suited the staff it was detrimental to the health and well being of the patients. The colour white has the ability to bring out feelings of isolation, of being unloved, being emotionally abandoned, and it is very clean and very clinical. An environment like this is not conducive to making clients feel better.

This led on to Karen saying that one needs to understand how the colour is used and in what context. Historically, it has been too much fashion led and designed to impress the relatives when they visit to see if it is suitable place. The introduction of colour, design, shape, pattern, can only help, as, if we feel comfortable in a space we behave better. This is the same across all environments.

As we were drawing towards the end of our allotted time I asked Karen about her courses, some of which I have benefitted from in the past

Currently Karen is teaching and assembling courses for the design industry; graphic, interior, product, textile, and architectural, at She is also in the process of building a course to follow on from The Little Book Of Colour. The purpose is to provide support and information around the book thus enabling a greater number of people to become more empowered with colour. This is her BIG AUDACIOUS GOAL.

External links

Watch the full interview on IGTV

For more information follow Karen on Instagram and at her website

Internal links

Read more about choosing colour for your home and wardrobe here

📸Carolyn Hayter

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