Skip to main content

Orange – high spirited and sociable

Orange is the colour of social interaction, joie-de-vivre and enjoyment. It forms the counterpoint to blue, which is the colour of intellect, coolness and reserve. Orange is often associated with light or warmth; it is described as THE colour to brighten the mood during the darker months of the year. Orange is close to both yellow and red, making it one of the warm colours in the spectrum. It is a colour of energy and action, combining the luminosity of yellow with the unrestrained exuberance of red.

For many centuries orange was not recognised as a colour in its own right. Goethe, for instance, spoke of a “yellow red” in his treatises on the subject of colour. Despite its orphan status, orange has played a significant role in all areas of life since antiquity and is a colour we encounter every day.

Images of colour and sound – Mozart and the Abduction from the Seraglio
The orange-tinted pages of the score for Mozart’s opera “The Abduction from the Seraglio”, with a libretto by C. F. Bretzner, is the musical, dramaturgical and literary child of the Enlightenment Age and its burgeoning encounters between Orient and Occident. Its echoes reverberate down through the centuries as the “eternal” legacy of a magical, still relevant, orientally-coloured mood. Mozart’s vibrant music is so vivid, so lyrical and so evocative that it still enchants people to this day.

The new age gifted Europe with a cornucopia of wonderful colours, new stories and tales, new music and musical instruments accompanied by new sounds, hues, textures and flavours of all kinds, from sweetly fragrant to robustly aromatic. Flowery decorations woven, crocheted or embroidered onto silken fabrics came into fashion, heavily influenced by the cultures of South-East Asia. They took the place of the much smaller in size, geometric patterns that had previously adorned carpets and wall coverings in Europe. Untouched by these developments, it was not until 1892 that the term Persian orange was first recorded in Europe, more than 100 years after the premiere of Mozart’s famous opera.

Orange-tinted colours are often associated with pleasure: Honey, oranges, physalis, pumpkin, turmeric, saffron, cardamom. Mysticism, sensuality, people, change and enlightenment
Does orange make people happy? In Buddhism, orange is the colour of enlightenment. Buddhist monks wear unhemmed lengths of fabric wrapped around their bodies to symbolise their permanent quest for enlightenment. At the same time, the orange-coloured goldfish is one of Buddhism’s most important symbols. It, too, represents enlightenment.

Enlightenment on the effect of people’s relationship to colour and skin colour can be found in Eva Heller’s book “How colour affects emotions and understanding”: “The most important reason why the colour orange is so highly revered in India is because it is also the skin colour of many of the sub-continent’s inhabitants. Just as pale-skinned people often romanticise the colour white, Indians see their ideal skin colour in saffron”. – In Indian paintings, deities are portrayed with bright orange skin. E. Heller remarks: “People everywhere picture god in their own image. The myth of human divinity never fades.”

As we will discover in later chapters about the colours in the RAL DESIGN SYSTEM, all faiths, sects and creeds; reformers, heretics, agnostics and mystics select a chromatic representation from black to white, blue to yellow, red to green and every imaginable hue in between. This happens not least because a signature colour is frequently a splendid instrument with which to convey external and inner values, approachability and identity. On top of that, their intrinsic messages are ideal for the development of a highly effective communication strategy. This methodology is also known as “cultural transfer”.

The history of the House of Orange is also part of the history of colour
Closer to home, orange continues to play a central role for our immediate European neighbours. Through a curious political and family saga it found its way into the history books. Orange, formerly a small principality in France – now located in the department of Vandise, came through marriage, hereditary succession and the usual twists and turns of fate into the hands of the Counts of Nassau and through that line to Count Nassau-Châlon. Finally, in 1544, the principality fell to William I, future Governor of the Netherlands.

When Koninginnedag was celebrated in the Netherlands in April each year, all of the houses, streets and squares were draped in bright orange: Queen Regent Emma (1890-1898) was succeeded on the throne in Amsterdam by Queens Wilhelmina (1890-1948), Juliana (1948-1980) and Beatrix (1980-2013).

Today, the holiday is once again called Koningsdag following the succession of Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange, as king. In honour of this heritage, the Netherlands are awash with orange to mark annual celebrations such as Koningsdag or the official state reopening of Parliament. And not just on those occasions. Dutch football fans are legendary for festooning their homes with bright orange banners whenever the national team wins an international fixture.

The phenomenal hype surrounding the colour orange has been popularised under the name “Orangetaumel” or orange frenzy. Irish and British Protestants also call themselves “Orangemen” in tribute to the Protestant Dutch King William of Orange. By contrast, the colour adopted by Irish Catholics is a deep emerald green.

What connects us with 050 50 78 Orange
The preconceptions that we associate with its phonetic colour tone bring us to the brink of a contradiction between emotion and function, between obtrusiveness and acceptance, and between the way things taste and how they look. Based on our experiences, we often develop diametrically opposed negative/positive associations with things like garish advertising, warning signs, waste collection, low cost products, pungent odours, harmful chemicals, corrosion, destruction, etc.

By contrast, we associate the warmth of Persian orange with positive attributes such as attentiveness, high visibility, security, activity, progressiveness, usefulness, gregariousness, optimism and creativity.

As a strikingly communicative colour, orange has huge potential to shock as well as to convey freshness and encourage activity.

We know that, for sheer luminosity, nothing beats a clear, mid-spectrum shade of orange against a white background. The colour combination can quickly develop a strobe-like effect, depending on the thickness of the lines and the lux value. Similarly sharp colour images to Persian Orange RAL 050 50 78 can be achieved with the following pure colour shades:

RAL 130 60 60 Primal green
RAL 200 50 45 India blue
RAL 260 50 40 Meissen blue
RAL 360 40 50 Parlour red

Long frowned upon, never experienced but always desired: pure orange, vibrant pink and violet
In the 1950s there was no pure red, pink or orange to be found in European children’s watercolour boxes. By contrast, American products were much better equipped. “They made it easier to paint pretty flowers and leaves with a bright red sun in the top corner of the picture.” Such was the general consensus in contemporary comments of the time.

In fact, there was a latent lack of colour. A result perhaps of the unavailability of sufficient raw materials or a neglecting of sensible, educational care. Both were probably the reason for this extremely reserved approach to colour. Research points to a prejudice at the time decrying lurid, mainly shocking pink, colour schemes as lacking in decorum in the same way that bright red lipstick, blood red nail polish or heavily rouged cheeks were also frowned upon.

At that time anything too bright or garish was rejected as a throwback to the 1940s and was considered inappropriate well into the 1950s and 1960s. Such colours were ostracized by the straightlaced social order of the times. However, as the years went by, things changed; not least when Frank Sinatra declared emphatically: “Orange is the happiest of all colours.” What more is there to say?

You can learn to trust in what is beautiful, pure and clear
Persian orange is a wonderful colour for play; having it at hand enlivens communication. Its associations demonstrate many emotionally oriented characteristics: Soft, gentle, attractive, life-affirming, friendly, kind, childish, emotional, etc. – Persian orange inspires communality. In rooms with a predominantly orange décor discussions take on a more friendly, productive and humane tone than those that take place in rooms where the predominant colour is grey, blue, black or white.

RAL 050 – RAL COLOUR DNA