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Guest Lecture: 5 Questions to Sophie Brodtkorb, Scientific Creative

Sophie Brodtkorb is a Brand Design Alumna of Brand University. After graduation, she decided to pursue a Master’s degree at Goldsmiths University in London.

How she managed to combine her passions for research and creativity there, and what the perception of colours has to do with it, Sophie Brodtkorb tells us in an interview.

Brand University: Hi Sophie, after your Bachelor’s degree in Brand Design, you did a Master’s degree in “Psychology of the Arts, Neuroasthetics and Creativity” at Goldsmiths University in London. What did you study in this Master’s programme?

Sophie Brodtkorb: My Master’s was about the intersection of art and science. I see it as the psychological approaches to how people generate new ideas, how they define beauty, and how we form preferences. The degree focuses on two key subjects: the psychology and cognitive neuroscience of generating creative works and observing those works.
What is creativity, how do you measure it and what promotes creative behaviour? Is symmetry a fundamental aesthetic element? Do we really consider the golden ratio to be the most beautiful? What happens in the brain when we form an aesthetic judgement about something? How do experts and amateurs differ in their evaluation of art? Empirical research can provide proven answers to such questions and offer a less subjective approach.

BU: Now you call yourself a “Creative Scientist/Scientific Creative”. What does that mean?

Brodtkorb: For me it means filling that scientific-creative intersection. Scientist – I’m interested in things we don’t know exactly yet, for example: how can I make someone sustainably happier with design? To find out, you have to do research, collect, analyse and compare data. Creative – on the other hand, I’m also interested in what I do with this information and how I carry it out to a final result. For that, you need new and exciting ideas. Basically, both are reflected in the definition of creativity for me: something has to be original, but it also has to solve a problem appropriately. You need both dimensions.

BU: Your guest lecture showed that are particularly interested in the psychology of colours. Why do we humans like certain colours better than others?

Brodtkorb: There are various theories for this, each with its advantages and disadvantages. But one theory that is quite well researched is that our colour preferences are based on salient associations with coloured objects. The idea is that we have learned evolutionarily to stay away from things that harm us and to approach things that are good for us. In doing so, their colour helps us to categorise them. This association that has developed between colours and good or bad things is then reflected in colour preferences.
In the surveys, most people perceive bluish colours as very positive. Perhaps because they associate this colour with positive things, such as a clear sky and clean water. In contrast, respondents liked brown and olive green the least. They probably associate it with dirt or mould. In summary, people probably like certain colours because they have had many positive experiences with things in these colours in their lives.

BU: What do you think people should look for when choosing a colour for their corporate or brand design?

Brodtkorb: I think it helps to think about what associations you have with certain colours. But with brand presentations, the goal is usually not to use the favourite colour of as many people as possible. Instead, you often want to convey certain emotions. There are also findings that show that colours can be categorised into different dimensions of so-called colour emotions. Some colours feel heavier than others, some are perceived as particularly relaxing and still others as comparatively modern. If you follow these categorisations, you can thus select and adjust colours that optimally match the desired emotions.

BU: What was your experience like doing a Master’s abroad, and do you have any advice for our students who have also planned to pursue this path?

Brodtkorb: My experience was entirely positive and anyone who feels like doing it should definitely consider going. At my university, I met incredibly diverse people, all from different countries and with their own expertise. The exchange is extremely interesting and valuable.
My first and most important advice would be to take full advantage of the experience abroad. Take day trips, visit all the little cafés and restaurants that characterise your city and check out cultural sites. Because things like a global pandemic could interrupt your already short time there. Also find out what financial aid you can access from home, but also locally. Because some cities have high living costs. In the end, I think studying abroad can be very enriching.

Many thanks to our alumna Sophie Brodtkorb for the insight into the world of neuroscience with an exciting connection to creativity!