We all have a favorite color, but it turns out that color is far from child’s play. Fatima Al Shirawi has it down to a science.
Fatima Al Shirawi is an Emirati entrepreneur, and a qualified Color Psychologist. She is the face behind the phenomenal brand The Gracious F, and I had the pleasure of meeting her this weekend to gain a better insight into her colorful world.
Fatima is a graduate of George Washington University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Marketing. Her love for fashion led her to Europe where she completed her 2nd degree in fashion from Polimoda School in Florence and London College of Fashion. In addition to her degrees, Fatima is also certified as a color consultant from the Color Affects Institute.
What is The Gracious F?
Established in 2008, The Gracious F is a wellness company that focuses on enhancing emotional and physical well-being by successfully combining color psychology, contemporary interior design and the principles of Feng Shui.
What inspired you to create this brand?
My love for fashion took me to Europe to study Fashion Design. We were introduced to a module on The Color affects system and I have been hooked ever since!
At the Color Affects Institute, we were taught to meticulously break down colors into varied sub-groups, and this helped me develop a sharp eye and understanding on how color actually affects our daily lives.
I was amazed by how the choice of colors brought about an almost instantaneous improvement in mood and focus among my fellow students and it was then that I decided I wanted to persue a career in this unique field and offer this service here in the UAE.
How does the color consultation process work?
We all instinctively know what colors suit us. Your color personality develops as you reach adulthood, so the minimum age requirement for a consultation is 18.
Your color personality has nothing to do with your date of birth, but is determined by your personality type. A detailed personality questionnaire has to be taken. It includes visual cues, and personal preferences ranging from choice of interiors to the type of holidays an individual prefers.
Personality colors can be broken down by the four seasons; Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter.
Most individuals of Scandinavian descent tend to be a Spring personality. Spring personalities suit pale pastel shades and dainty floral prints.
Spring people tend to have an eternally youthful personality, quick and light on their feet, very practical and can be sentimental.
Summer people tend to be a little quiet with a soft voice, highly perceptive, subtle, homely and extremely amusing, and tend to love the color pink.
A Bohemian at heart. Loves to travel and explore new cultures and ways of life. Autumn personalities tend to be warm, earthy, loving and vocal. They love colors, prints and big statement jewelry pieces. An Autumn personality rarely wears black – a perfect example of the ‘60s child!
Most individuals originating from the Middle East or Indian Sub-Continent tend to be Autumn personalities.
Fatima is an Autumn personality. She loves color, and the darkest shade she wears is a navy blue (even when wearing an abaya). I am positive I am an Autumn personality too!
These are very focused individuals, they often appear cold and unapproachable but this is only an exterior. They prefer blacks and monotones. A good example would be the Gothic look.
However, these are just the four basic prototypes. Every individual also has a sub-group (so you could be a dominant Autumn personality with a submissive Spring).
A color personality is not restricted to color alone. Individual preferences of textures and smells are also taken into account. It is therefore not surprising that the spicy, exotic Oud is a product of the Middle East.
If the UAE was a person, what colors would you recommend?
The UAE is a vibrant, young nation and is a melting pot of different cultures. It is definitely an Autumn personality and I can see bright colors of yellows, oranges and royal blue.
How does Feng Shui come into the picture? Have you faced issues introducing Feng Shui to UAE clients given its taboo connotations?
Feng Shui is an ancient art of balance and well-being. Residents of the UAE interact with people from all corners of the globe and are therefore very open to worldly knowledge like Feng Shui.
As a Muslim, I practice Feng Shui. I take it as a science and when it comes to symbolizing, I can replace it with something that has meaning to me. For example, in the Wealth corner of my home, I keep a copy of the Holy Quran. This can be customized as per individual needs and beliefs.
Can you give us some color tips for interiors?
For the living-room: this is your social space, so it is best to make it warm and inviting. Use beige and yellow abundantly, try to introduce as much natural light.
For the bedroom: Muted greys and off-whites put the mind into a relaxed state.
For the office: Blue is the perfect color for mental stimulation, but sadly many offices are painted in dull, dreary greys. I once worked at an office where every cubical was grey and felt physically and mentally draining. I recommended a change to the management and suggested that each cubicle should be given a red and blue square to divert the focus from the dull grey. The management reported a marked improvement in the overall staff performance and the office ambience was more positive.
With your color psychology skills, you have collaborated with a number of industries including fashion, interiors, brand identity and individual psychology. Please give us more details on your work.
Fatima has had the opportunity to work with different corporate and retail entites.
She has worked with Designer Empire to execute exhibition stand designs and arrange product placements using the color effect system to organize and arrange the collections as per the color groups and textures that relate to each color personality group. The results ended in higher sales and a more enhanced customer experience. The customer found the display very attractive and approached the stand with ease and interest due to the attractive colors.
Miracle Holistic Center is another client that Fatima has serviced by working with the space for yoga classes and holistic training center. Fatima picked the colors for each room as purpose of the rooms, in addition she used elements of feng shui for the space to maximise the balance of the energy.
The Gracious F is also affiliated with Italian high-end jewelry brand Verhiner: Fatima has worked and executed product placement of the jewellery in store, and has also created jewelry designs to suit the preferences of each color personality and to appeal to all nationalities.
Finally Fatima’s involvement with the prestigious brand Van Cleef has been recognized by the local UAE market. Fatima held a talk focusing on understanding different personalities and their taste in jewelry, in addition to a discussion on color effects of each precious stone.
On another platform, Fatima has also been positioned as a Life Coach. Focusing on journey through change with Hala Kazim, Fatima conducted a workshop on boundaries and what colors to wear when we communicate in different situations in life.
You are such a fashionista! Surely you will be creating a fashion brand of your own in the near future?
As much as I love fashion and have always been told to have my own brand, my true passion is interior design and I see myself creating artistic furniture pieces or spaces with unique design concepts.
Thank-you for such an insightful journey into the world of color psychology! I wish you all the luck and success in your future endeavors.
A two-hour color consultation with Fatima costs AED 2,000. Apart from a detailed one-on-one chat about your color personality, you will also get a personalized color palette and a look-book of fashionable ideas that are perfectly you.