When my elder daughter (Aarushi) was growing up, an interesting thing happened that I can never forget. She started reading. It wasn’t the reading itself that was so interesting. It was her excitement at the ability to read that made me take notice. After she learnt to read, wherever we went, be it a restaurant or a shop, she would try to read everything and feel extremely excited about it. Her reaction was of a person whose spectrum of visible things suddenly increased many-folds. She could suddenly know the world around her so much better; she could connect with it better; she could be more than she was.

What really changed with her ability to read? A new communication link got established between her & her environment. Through that link, she could absorb her environment so much better.

And recently, I had some interesting experience which made me reflect on this matter a bit more. For an upcoming project, I was designing the website. And this time around, I decided to approach it as “a designer”. So, I started studying typography, colors and other elements of visual design. And suddenly, I experienced the same excitement that Aarushi had experienced when she learnt to read. I could now read “colors” and “types” in my environment. A new communication link got established.

What do I mean? Let me explain further. For designing the new website, I had to design a color palette whose colors will be used in the website. Now, in order to do that, I studied the technicalities about colors. Something like:

  • The technicalities: What are hue, saturation and value? What are shades & tints? What are additive & subtractive colors?

  • The emotional aspects: What moods are created by different colors? What emotional response different colors create in people?

  • Getting control: How colors influence people’s experience of a website?

I spent about a day or two on this and the learning I got was very valuable. Suddenly, I found that my surroundings were all the time “communicating” with me in the “language of colors”. But it was my lack of knowledge because of which I could never “read” that “communication”. Now, suddenly, everywhere I see, I find a communication encoded in the colors. From my furniture & walls to various shades of green in my balcony plants to grays & blues in the sky to the browns of earth and tree trunks. I can now “read” colors. Not very proficient yet but a world has suddenly opened up.

And this whole experience got me thinking. Is it only about colors? What are the other “mediums” that my environment uses for communication but I have not been trained to understand those mediums very well? What about body language? What about language of the eyes? What about the language of how people walk? What about the language of tonality? What about the language of proportions? What about “Hand-writing”?

There is so much “communication” hidden from me just because I do not know how to read it.