Why color is the new black

If colors bring joy, then why are our lives in developed countries marked by muted colors?


Rajat Mishra

Building presentations

Building presentations


Rajat Mishra

3 minutes

"Without emotion, there is no beauty."
–Diana Vreeland, French-American fashion editor

Colors bring joy

I remember the festival of Holi! People throw handfuls of colored powder at each other on the streets of Delhi. Clothes are stained in every color imaginable—pink, blue, red, and green. Peals of laughter. Thinking about it brings me a distinct feeling of happiness. Holi was a joy!

And the colors of Holi are no exception. Bright colors adorn festivals around the world. Colorful dancing dragons in the Chinese new year. Bright feathered costumes during Carnival in Brazil. In cultures across the world—from piñatas in Mexico to aboriginal rituals—colors are everywhere.

In her wonderful book Joyful, Ingrid Fetell Lee discusses the often ignored connection between colors and feelings. Bright colors buoy our spirits. Simply put: colors make us happy.

We live in muted color

Ingrid makes a remarkable observation. If colors bring joy, then why are our lives in developed countries marked by muted colors? Most cars are silver, white, or grey. Most suits are black, charcoal, or navy. Sofas are ivory. Bookshelves are off-white. Our walls and curtains are cream. And yes, most presentations are bland and monotone. Why do we shun color?


Very few of us would say our favorite color is grey or white. Yet, we bathe our lives in dull color. Why? There is a word that captures our fear of color—chromophobia.

We hide under the guise of "sophistication" and the belief that color is frivolous. Color is for children. Serious, sophisticated adults prefer gray and beige tones. Ingrid argues that behind the choice of color is the fear of making a choice. Of being wrong. Of not fitting in.

When we search for a new piece of furniture or peruse catalogs for the color of our walls, we browse several colors but in the end, we choose a trusted eggshell, off-white.

Add some color courage to your next presentation

It is clear to me that the path to joy goes through the choice of color. Yes, it does feel like we are taking a risk in a sea of cream, grey, and off-white. Colors make us happy. And well-chosen colors can level up a presentation and help you connect with the audience. In a business setting, it may seem like a hard choice. But I hope we can learn to make that choice!