Monday, April 8, 2013

Things Design School Does to You: Creative Color Names

A funny thing happened once I started design school almost 4 years ago. Among all the other changes taking place in my life, like moving far away from home, trying my best to deal with rain on a daily basis, and constantly working on floor plans, another notable change took place.

Colors were no longer referred to as just red, yellow, blue or purple. I started picking up on better color descriptions, and blogging certainly had something to do with this, but now I cannot, for the life of me, just call something "orange." It's tangerine or coral. "Purple" has become eggplant, plum, lilac, lavender. "Blue" and "green" are now described as mint, seafoam, turquoise, sky, ocean's mist, and ice. 
*image by Gem Photo for Michaela Noelle Designs; print by SS Print Shop

I distinctly remember the day I made a conscious decision to start coming up with more creatively titled color names. My professor told me if we pitched this beautiful gray tone to a client in Seattle and actually called it "gray", they would not go for it. She explained that if we simply called it something like slate, charcoal, evening dusk, midnight, silver, platinum, stone...{you get the picture} they might actually go with it. No one wants "gray" on their walls in a city where it's always gray outside. BUT that same person may fall in love with the color and identify with it better if you call it something different. Oh, the psychology that goes into design :)

From blogging, I've learned even more creative ways to name colors and it's sort of fun. Whoever has the pleasure of naming paint colors or nail polish colors...I want to meet you. You are so, so creative. Anyone else want that job?!

Thank you, design school + blogging, for expanding my color vocabulary and causing me to describe colors as fruits, vegetables, flower species, or the way the sky paints itself at sunset. 

Blush, mint, peach, amethyst, parchment, cotton candy, lilac, honeysuckle (coined by Pantone two years ago, and we'll forever see that lovely shade of pink), emerald....
*images by Gem Photo for Michaela Noelle Designs

Okay, I'm dying to know what are YOUR favorite colors?! Get creative with the names and tell me in the comments :) I'll share my favorites in another post this week.

Have a colorful Monday!


  1. Love this post : ) I like all things shades of blue... but I think my favorite color right now is a reddish orange. Sort of a vermilion if you will? Yeah I totally Googled that name, ha!

  2. My absolutely favorite is soft, light, blue-gray - like "clean vapor" in this link.

    I always have trouble explaining it because it isn't mint, it isn't seafoam, it's not Tiffany blue, its not robin's egg blue, but it's also not gray. :)

    Maybe you have a good word for it - would love to know what you call it!

  3. Oh I love MINT, BLUSH, MUSTARD YELLO (?) haha

  4. Agreed! I went to cosmetology school and I always thought it would be great to name nail polish colours too. OPI specifically always has creative names. Red...boring. 'Im not really a waitress' oh yes!

    Bonnie Rose | A Compass Rose

  5. Love this post. I completely agree about the psychology of colour names! My faves right now are blush, mint, coral...anything springy and fresh!

  6. Love this post!! I learned similar things in design school - but for graphics rather than interiors. Psych plays a big role in design! My current favorite shades together are banana and mint. Very pale but pretty with a hint of spring :)

  7. Haha this post is wonderful! As a jewelry creator, I feel the same way, using the names for basic colors just doesn't do them justice anymore! Your word bank rocks

  8. I love the color names for OPI nail polish, those are so cool! I name all of my Blogger premade templates girl names, but my favorite color name by far is lavender for anything light purple.

  9. I love cute color names! My favs are mint and coral but I always loved Crayola's creative crayon names like Robins Egg Blue, Macaroni & Cheese, and Bubble Gum Pink :)

  10. I absolutely LOVE Honeysuckle. My mom always told me it was yellow and all I could do was laugh at her.

  11. Hi there! I just found your blog via Across the Pond, and I`m amazed over your blog. It`s so beautiful! so you`ll probably see me around in the future:-)
    I love nail polish names!

  12. my favorite colors are navy (not a very exciting color name) and barbie pink.

  13. Every picture in this post is gorgeous!! I'm a big fan of blush and and apricot peach!!


    Five Minute Style 

  14. The psychology that goes into the naming of colours is so fascinating! It makes sense, though, 'evening dusk' just sounds a lot more fancy than gray!

  15. I've been on a huge coral kick lately, as well as anything in the teal family: robin's egg, sea foam, and turquoise!

  16. My all time favorite is aubergine. There is just something about that word that I love saying it.

  17. You're so right on the psychological effet of colours names michaela! I still dont know why some cosmetic companies still name their colours with numbers! Its so boring! Personally i always fall for makeup with inspiring names. Im talking about makeup because i know that more than paint colours hehe! I like mint green. Whats the difference between mint green and seafoam? And ti guess turquoise is darker? What about teal? I like thise so would like to have your opinion!

  18. Oh my gosh! Help me name the colors for the rugs! Haha. Actually I've gotten pretty creative, but the problem is I keep using Mint, Stone, Slate, Tangerine, Ruby etc over and over again! Must start getting creative on top of the creative!

  19. I SO get the not wanting to paint things gray in a "gray" city! Ha!!! ;-) When I got a green color for our office makeover, it was Benjamin Moore Clover Green....but my 7-year old thought we should name it Mermaid Tale, which I love! Color is so fun. ;-)

  20. When my daughter said she wanted her room blue I almost died! I pictured navy blue or something like that, ha! After looking at colors together, I realized she meant something like aqua, turquoise, pool.... We picked "Tropicana Cabana" from Benjamin Moore :)

  21. Love the chevron drawers!

  22. Peony pink & mint are how I describe my favorite colors! :) p.s. I grew up 20 minutes from Seattle - it is definitely grey but I do love that city so much!

  23. YES! I think my dream job would be coming up with names for Essie nail polish:-) Simple and cheeky! xoxo

  24. Oh I love this post! It would be so fun to come up with nail polish names. In my home I use peony, seafoam, cream, and chalkboard a lot.

  25. Stumbled across this while getting inspiration for my novel, and even though it was published a while ago, I just had to comment! :) Anyway, each chapter in my novel is titled with a color. Here's what I have so far (they're very short chapters, so there's a lot for me think up):


    I love trying to influence the mood of the chapter with the name of the color; again, psychology. Great post! :)


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