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A Root of Design: Color Harmony

The word ‘harmony’ permeates our lexicon to generally describe how well things work together. For music, it is the relationship between pitched elements that manifest a distinctive feeling in chords. For example. the tonal relationship between the C, E, and G notes are what makes the C major chord sound bright, playful and happy.


In the social dynamic, Manisha Sharma defines harmony as “a process of valuing, expressing, and promoting love, trust, admiration, peace, harmony, respect, generosity and equity upon other people…”. In other words, the merit of harmony is that it forms a pleasing and consistent whole between individual entities.


But we are here for the colors.


Just like music, there are concrete tactics one can take to manifest harmony in design. The color wheel is the shining beacon of light for those of us who haven’t an ounce of an eye for style. Whether you are an aspiring artist, a budding catwalk (or sidewalk) connoisseur, or simply want to renovate your home – the color wheel can give insight to the subjective good in what looks good.


Below we will provide you with four basic techniques that will add a little ‘harmony’ to your design process.




Complementary colors exist opposite each other on the wheel. Their contrasting natures evince a vibrant look, however, vibrance must be managed to avoid creating too lurid of an effect.




Split complementary is a variation of the complementary color scheme. To maintain less tension between colors it utilizes the colors to the right and left of the complementary color.




Analogous colors, or related colors, are positioned next to the primary color on the color wheel. Because of their close relationship, the harmony of these colors can create a calming effect and are often found in natural settings.




Triadic harmony refers to the relationship between three equidistant colors on the wheel. To avoid too dazzling of a display the colors must be balanced properly. Choose one as a primary and use the other two as accents.

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