Tasting color

Is the letter “M” always orange, the number “7” always black, while the number “3” is green, and the word “car” is blue? Some people “hear” the word “purple” and sense another person as being “pale blue” or “red”. On the phone they may feel the person they are speaking to is “lilac”. Hearing or seeing the color yellow may imply “health” or “numbness” or trigger another feeling. Certain foods may taste as if they are “round” or “pointed”. Numbers and letters, words, each have their own properties and color.
The condition is known as synesthesia, and it describes a merging or mixing of the senses that, in most people, would have developed independently. The senses of someone with synesthesia (a synesthete) have merged so that sight and taste and sound and touch are co-mingled in a highly individual manner. Many people who experience synesthesia are under the impression that everyone “feels” words, numbers and letters in a vibrational manner, and they are often astonished to discover that others do not share their perceptions of the world, or the navigational signals they use to describe and define and feel their environment.
Synesthesia is no longer considered an illness and although the causes are still unknown, many scientists and neurologists accept that the condition is an indicator of brain organization about which there is still so much to learn.
Designers, who work with color all day, deal with their own personal perceptions and reactions to color as well as those of their clients. Color associations may be learned or influenced by culture, such as feeling “blue”, or being “green” with envy, or thinking of the color purple as an indication of power, red signaling danger or rage, and aqua expressing calmness, or orange as exciting. Being aware of the potential of the additional element of synesthesia enhances the communicative attributes of color in our world, regardless of how we sense, feel or taste it. Something to think about.
Posted on 2012-02-23 under color