3 Design Takeaways from #thedress Color Controversy

3 Design Takeaways from #thedress Color Controversy

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Carrie McBride
Mar 1, 2015
(Image credit: Submitted by Meredith)

It's been a few days since #thedress and the ensuing color controversy went super viral and, yeah, I'm over it, too. But, believe it or not, there are actually a few helpful decor lessons that can be harvested from this internet fracas - and, I promise, they don't involve how to decorate with blue and black or white and gold.

1. It's all in the context, yo.

Part of the reason this dress' colors are discerned differently is that there is very little contextual information around the dress as photographed for the brain to use to fill in the gaps.

from LiveScience: In real life, the dress would be in a large field of view, with other objects illuminated in the same way. Our brains would be able to separate the garment's lighting from its intrinsic color...In the photo posted on Tumblr, the dress fills up most of the image, providing very little information about how the object is being lit.

Okay, let's forget the stuff about lighting. What I want to talk about is the idea of context. Have you ever fallen in love with something when you're out shopping, bought it and realized it doesn't really work in your home? I'm not saying not to mix and match styles. I'm saying that if a piece is a real departure from everything else in your space and this meshes in your mind and eye - awesome. But if it is always going to stick out to you like a sore thumb, no matter how much you love it on its own, it's probably not a smart acquisition.

2. Change Your Perspective

Arielle Pardes at Vice described her amazement when she printed out a photo of the dress and tilted it and suddenly was able to see it as white and gold instead of blue and black. For my part, I noticed that when I backed away from my computer or viewed it from another angle, I could see the dress colors differently.

This change in perspective reminded me of one of the exercises in The Eight-Step Home Cure book our founder, Maxwell, wrote. One of the first assignments is to spend 10 minutes sitting in a part of your home you never sit in and, better yet, on the floor or in a seat you don't normally use. The idea is to gain a different perspective, literally, on a space to help isolate the problem areas. Try it in a room you're not satisfied with at home and see if a new angle inspires a new idea.

3. It Only Matters How You See It (aka, You're Always Right)

What has been so bewildering and, to some, unsettling, about the dress is that the person standing next to you is seeing one thing while you are seeing something else. And, okay, technically, in the case of this dress, one of you is "right", but the bigger lesson here is that you're never going to see something exactly the same way as someone else. Sure, it feels good to have friends (not to mention internet strangers) compliment your home, but ultimately, it's how you see your home that matters.

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