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Communicating colours: one cube is unlike another.

Posted on: 08 Aug 2017

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The impact of cube-shaped homes has been attracting my attention for some time now. Usually they are black or white. At any rate, that is what I assumed. Until the yellow cube-shaped stilt houses in Rotterdam came back into my mind. These homes were designed by Dutch architect Piet Blom, who turned a cube-shaped house 45 degrees and placed it on a hexagonal pylon. This was intended as a fun solution for making hospitable residential neighbourhoods as a response to the large-scale, grey modernism of post-war architecture.

Let's take a look at three cube-shaped homes and their impact: one is dark grey, the other white and yet another one yellow. What a difference in image!

But what is it that makes the one cube communicate totally differently from the other? A cube is just a cube, right? Or is it about the use of colour? We are looking at the impact of three cube-shaped homes.

Yellow cube
The cube in the yellow colour appears to give you energy, a zest for living, and awakes feelings of joy and positivity. It transports you into a festive, warm atmosphere. Not just the colour, but also the position of the cube - the cube on its head - contributes to the dynamic and fun character of the architecture.

Cube houses in Rotterdam | Cityzapper

In advertising too, we find the link between the colour 'yellow' and

  • Energy.
  • Zest for living, joy and positivity.
  • Festive, warm mood.

Collage. Illustrations from Boost Energy Drink, Logo Enjoi & NSHAMA Sales Centre.

Black cube
The black cube appears heavy and 'ponderous'. This architecture exudes secrecy and looks mysterious. At the same time, it commands respect and comes across as austere and businesslike.

Show house in Deerlijk – Via Nieuwbouwzondag.

Here too, we find a link in advertising between the colour 'dark grey' and

  • being heavy.
  • secretive, mysterious
  • austere and businesslike.

Collage. Illustrations taken from Arctic Cat Bikes, The Giant Pouwa from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa & visiting card of Franco Caligiuri via Walking Billboards.

White cube
The white cube, on the other hand, feels weightless, intangible. The home comes across as minimalist, sober and pure. As well as clean, airy, fragile, gentle and poetic. The white colour has a calming effect, but is also businesslike, modern and cool.

Home via website Livios.

Here too, we can find a link in advertisements between the colour 'white' and

  • Weightless, intangible.
  • Minimalist, sober, pure.
  • Airy, gentle, fragile, ...

Collage. Illustrations from Sanctus, Bank Forum, BMW & AngelSoft.

Really, a splash of colour on your walls? Think about it before you begin, because colours really do communicate! Even if that was not what you intended.

Karin Cleymaet

Colour & Interior advisor @ Kleurpunt

Karin Cleymaet

Karin Cleymaet is a colour and interior advisor, as well as owner at Kleurpunt.

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