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Designing with Green

The color green is always around us in nature. From the trees in our neighborhoods and local green spaces to the many foods we eat daily, green is almost everywhere we look. There’s a reason for that. Green is the easiest color for the human eye to perceive. It falls directly in the middle of the color spectrum visible to humans at 555 nanometers. As we get closer to celebrating Earth Day 2023, let’s learn more about green’s many meanings, designing with green, and its connection to the environment.

Symbolism and Meaning of Green

In addition to its association with nature, we often associate green with growth and renewal. Lighter shades of green are associated with new life, well-being, peace, and balance. Like many other colors in our world, green can have a variety of meanings, depending on which shade you pick and how often you use it. Green is also often connected to wealth and luck: it’s the color of the United States dollar and the lucky shamrock we embrace every St. Patrick’s Day. Classic phrases like “the grass is always greener on the other side” capture the positive meaning of green. But green can have negative connotations as well. Darker shades of green often bring about feelings of illness, envy, evil, and grumpiness. Think of the phrase “the green-eyed monster” or characters like the Wicked Witch or Oscar the Grouch. 

Designing with Green 

Green is a flexible color in design, earning the title “the new neutral” from Sherwin Williams. It can add depth and variety to a space, pairing and contrasting well with many other colors. Interior designers often use green in various commercial environments, including healthcare facilities, educational settings, restaurants, and office spaces, mainly because of its association with peace and relaxation. Green is also a great color choice to freshen up a room. You can even do this by bringing a bit of nature indoors with some plant life! Plus, green is a great choice to design with in 2023, with one green shade making our 2023 Colors of the Year list. 

Green and Sustainability 

Designing with green goes beyond the color. Of all the meanings green has had over time, the most common is green’s connection to sustainability and the environment. Many companies, designers, and activists have tapped into green’s relationship with nature and new life to communicate the importance of caring for our environment. When designing, think green in your color choices and how your designs affect the environment. Work with companies that embrace sustainable manufacturing practices, choose durable materials, and make choices that conserve our resources. For ideas about going green in your design choices and daily life, visit the resources listed on Earth Day’s website. Additionally, read Eco-Friendly Choices on Earth Day and Everyday from our extension company Domanda Design

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Emma Becker

Emma Becker is a teaching artist and arts administrator working in the state of Rhode Island. She believes art, creativity, and self-expression are essential parts of education. The daughter of a weaver, she grew up surrounded by textiles and developed a deep respect for textiles and their makers.


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