A design usually starts from keywords referring either to emotions, ambiences, brand values or functionalities. The meaning and connotations of a word, however, differ among people. A case in point is the notion ‘pure’, which might either convey ‘cleanliness’, ‘undiluted’, or ‘natural’. As a result the team of designers and client often come to find out they are not on the same page, with timewasting as a consequence.


The goal of this course is to learn how to probe the different aspects of meaning of a keyword and compose a corresponding colour combination and shape into a coherent design scheme. The workshops will provide a much improved communication between the participating actors. By means of keywords the CITY OF 8 design and communication method will run the design process precisely and efficiently without bypassing intuition. This groundbreaking design method is the coming to fruition of twenty years plus of scientific research.

Course overview

In the theoretical introduction we deal with the inception of the Semantic Colour Space. How did its developers arrive at this model, which sources were used, how does it work? Answering these questions requires clarifying meaning via emotionally and psychologically correlated parameters and complementing this process within the psychological and experiential framework of colour and shape.

During the brainstorm sessions it becomes clear that a keyword may summon up different meanings, or even denote small shifts in meaning, for every single individual. By posing six strategic questions, each of which offers two possible answers, the meaning of the keyword becomes well defined, paving the way for all the actors to be agreed.

The answers to the six questions determine the coordinates on the three axes of the Semantic Colour Space in which the keyword will be assigned a specific position. In accordance with these coordinates colour combinations and shape parameters will be generated that will induce the intended meaning, emotion, brand value, functionality, or ambience.

You will have the opportunity to introduce your project into the course and, with tutoring on hand, work on its colour semantic aspects.

Course duration 3 weeks
Start date April 26, 2022
Language English
Effort minimum 6 hours per week

Theory, brainstorming and case studies with tutoring on hand in 6 online live sessions, quizzes and exercises by way of homework.

Secure your seat

Complete your registration and make payment now, as only 12 participants will be allowed on the course. We stick to a limited number of trainees as we want to guarantee a maximum of interaction with the instructor.


Session 1
April 26, 2022
3 - 4:30 pm CEST
Repeat April 28, 2022
10 - 11:30 am CEST

Session 2
May 3, 2022
3 - 4:30 pm CEST
Repeat May 5, 2022
10 - 11:30 am CEST

Session 3
May 10, 2022
3 - 4:30 pm CEST
Repeat May 12, 2022
10 - 11:30 pm CEST

You are free to join the dates that suit you best.
You can both attend the main sessions as well as the repeats.

What participants will learn

  • Gain insight

    ... into the underlying meaning and emotional charge of keywords by posing six strategic questions based on the theory of the Semantic Colour Space.

  • Improved time-saving

    ... communication between the participating actors.

  • Get a grip

    ... on the mechanisms behind synaesthetic connections between colour and shape via their distinct parameters

  • Compose the appropriate

    ... colour combinations and shapes representing the conceived meaning, emotion, brand value, functionality, or ambience.

  • A growing awareness

    ... of the importance for the design team to be in unison about the meaning of a keyword prior to the start of the actual design process.

Course curriculum

  1. 1
    • Downloads

  2. 2
    • The semantic colour space, a natural framework

    • 8 primary colours, 8 colour families

  3. 3
    • Colour Semantics

    • Quizzing semantic parameters of primary colours

    • Multiple choice on the semantics of primary colours

    • Take a tour around the semantic parameters of primary colours

  4. 4
    • Shape Semantics

    • 8 primary shapes

    • Quizzing semantic parameters of primary shapes

    • Multiple choice on the semantics of primary shapes

    • 64 shapes

    • Analyze a shape

    • Drawing a shape with parameters

  5. 5
    • Together with all participants research a single keyword and connect a fitting colour combination and shape to it.

    • Each team of three to four participants researches a single keyword and connects a colour combination and a shape.

    • Discussing the different results with the whole group.

  6. 6
    • With tutoring on hand, work with your team on your projects colour and shape semantic aspects.


Senior instructor

Inez Michiels

Inez Michiels is director at CITY OF 8 design semantics research association and co-founding board member of the ICA-Belgium Interdisciplinary Colour Association. She obtained a Master of Arts from the Artesis-Plantijn Hogeschool in Antwerp. In cooperation with the Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp and the University of Antwerp, dep. of communication sciences she did research into the link between art and emotion. She published a series of papers and books on design semantics and is the author of the Design Semantics Database. She is a guest lecturer at the University of Antwerp, dep. interior architecture and at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore US, dep. graphic design. She is a member of the AIC Study Group on Environmental Colour Design.


Review about the Design Semantics courses

Aniela Hoitink, founder of Neffa – The Netherlands

For me it was very interesting that the things I do intuitively, are now scientifically substantiated. If my feeling is wrong with a design, I can use design semantics to test what I can do differently. Or vice versa from the semantics determine a feeling, this is a reciprocity.

Review about Design Semantics courses

Annelies Reynaerts – aHa-architecten gcv, Belgium.

Our senses are stimulated by colours, textures, materials and shapes. When making choices, consciously or unconsciously, we usually work from a gut feeling. Thanks to the course Design semantics you get a scientific background/support and in case of doubt you can start looking for the right solution, or combinations of colours, shapes and textures. It is important to note that both (gut feeling and design semantics) are needed, complement each other perfectly and thereby are inextricably linked. A very informative experience that will be applied with pleasure in the future.

Review about the Signifix workshop

Ellen Lupton & team – MICA, Baltimore USA

I never saw such a cool workshop in my life!

Review about the Design Semantics courses

Master student in interior architecture at Art’COM – Morocco.

The workshops were very interesting to the extent that we discussed architecture in a totally new way. The most interesting part of the workshop was the code of colours, shapes and textures that we have studied and that allows us to precisely respond to the expectations of a customer.