An aspiring artist since she was young, Debra Wilde’s fascination with color began in a traumatic way. While working in New York as a governess during her college years, Debra was the victim of a head-on collision with a drunk driver.
She describes the experience in her recent book Colors Gone Wilde, writing, “At the moment of impact, I felt like a slit had been cut in the fabric of time and I went through it- when I awoke to consciousness, I found myself floating, suspended in deep blue indigo space with angelic presence around me. My body was a sublime alignment of rotating color and light. Arcs of light and color danced in the vast foreground in front of me, like projectiles of falling, spiraling stars in deep space.”
While Debra walked away from this near-death experience with nerve damage and an injured leg, she was forever changed in another way too: her perceptions of colors would never be same.
Following her accident, Debra continued to pursue all the artistic avenues she has always enjoyed: painting, dancing, and theatre, but with a new interest in the role of color. She began studying Carl Jung, researching the role of color in science, physics, and psychology, and even designed her undergraduate major and master’s thesis around the study of color.
Her transition into interior design was a natural one. “I developed a longing to apply color in the environment aesthetically, psychologically, and systematically,” Debra writes in her book.
Inspired to “incorporate psychological and purposeful application of color in the environment,” Debra opened Color Design Associates, a consulting business, before venturing out on her own as an interior designer in 1994.
Since then, Debra has worked on a variety of projects ranging from multifamily housing to hospitality and residential design. In recent years, however, she has turned her attention to putting her work into words in the form of her book. Colors Gone Wilde delves into what Debra has dubbed “The Core Color Plan,” a guide for “using color well for creative expression and personal evolution.”
The guide works as follows. The subject is asked to lay out twenty-eight of Debra’s color cards on a neutral surface. “I work with twenty-eight root psychological colors that were derived from the twelve spectral colors of light and then take tints and shades. I also work with metals,” Debra explains. Clients are then asked a number of questions including: “If you could only be one color what would you be?”, “What is your peaceful and calm color?”, and “You are fulfilled and satisfied. What color does that feel like?” A selection of colors emerges from which Debra suggests deriving interior design inspiration. “Your answers to the Core Color Plan develop into a unique color profile that resonates with personal energy, tastes, and talents,” she writes. “Like a fingerprint, your sensibilities and color archetypes are uniquely your own to understand and use in supporting inherent strengths and talents. Find comfort and inspiration in implementing your findings throughout your interior and exterior spaces.”
The book also offers advice about selecting different color harmony schemes based on the results of the Core Color Plan and looks at the different color families, noting the symbolism and archetypal color characteristics of each family.