A line of black cars rushes towards Kultaranta Manor, the Finnish President’s summer residence. A meeting between the President and the King of Sweden is about to start. A summer bride shocks her guests by arriving at the altar in a bright red wedding dress. In early autumn, a zebra crossing in the heart of Helsinki becomes the nation’s top news story overnight by transforming itself into a rainbow-coloured proclamation.
There is no colour without light. There are no differences without colour. With colour we can make a statement, raise eyebrows, melt into the background, convey status and set trends. When I lived in Milan, my local Lombardy student friends advised me to dress in the coming winter’s style of ‘grey only’, saying that otherwise I would be mistaken for a tourist or perhaps a southerner! A ten-year-old boy wanted something other than the usual blue for his room, but was reluctant to say what he really had in mind. In the end I suggested a "Ferrari red" wall, and he instantly agreed. Of course, he may not have been so keen had I called the colour "rose petal red".
Colours can sharpen alertness and appetite. Colours can be soothing, too. They will tell you when to cross the road, how to get hot water from a tap. On the weather map, colours will show you the heat waves and cold snaps. Our lives are, in fact, guided by all kinds of colour symbols that we learn along the way. Without colours, the vibrancy and nuances of life would be lost, replaced by a monotone existence. Colour certainly does matter!
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