It is a truth that any creature’s habitat impacts on the way that they behave. Whether you’re a bird reacting to the changing climate by embarking on a thousand mile migration, or a creative struggling horribly to focus in a dank and claustrophobic office space, the principle is the same: pay attention to the space around you because it informs and influences your actions.
For working environments this concept hinges on colour as much as the space itself. No two people are the same, indeed no two job roles are the same. However there are general rules of thumb when considering the colours that you want to adorn your workspace.
Colour can be split into busy colours and restful colours. Greens and blues are extremely natural tones and inspire calm feeling. These tones are also found to promote efficiency, communication and trust. They lend an overall sense of well-being and focus so are ideal to include in a working space that seeks innovation.
Red – a much busier colour – is active, intense and said to inspire creativity. Its presence can increase performance in employees who have detail-focussed projects. As it is so strong, it works best in features, pieces of furniture or decorative wall pieces.
Yellow, often viewed as a shade of optimism, is energetic and fresh. Frequently worn by winning sides in sporting events, it is believed to trigger stimulation. Use this colour in work environments where artists, writers, designers, developers and other creative professionals work. However, tempers are more likely to fray in yellow rooms, so perhaps avoid this colour for your conference room.
Of course, no office, workshop, studio or indeed any working environment can be decorated exclusively in one colour. It would make heads swim! Contrasting colours between your walls, your furniture or fascias will deepen the impact of those colours for the people who spend their days surrounded by them. When selecting colour combinations, it is worth noting that colours change in appearance when contrasted with other colours.
For example, turquoise will look more green when seen against a bright blue, but the same tone can appear blue when placed near emerald green. An office space favourite, grey, will show tones of green when seen alongside red, but when contrasted with blue will appear to have an orange hue. So no single colour should be finally selected for a colour scheme before it is seen against the other colours which will play a part in the completed scheme.
A Blank Canvas
White may be thought of as neutral and therefore flexible, but too much of it is actually counterproductive in a working environment. Ironically and unfortunately, many work environments are white, off-white, or grey. Business owners often choose grey because it is proven to be psychologically neutral. However, this colour also lacks energy. It is suppressive and can influence occupants to internalise their opinions. Too much use of grey can foster a lack of confidence so it should really be used in small amounts in an office. Despite this, it can be great when offset by a brighter colour, such as red or yellow.
Choice of colour for a workspace and the combinations and contrasts that can be created are hugely varied and potentially unpredictable. Psychological patterns of colour impact clearly do not work for everyone, but they are valid as a general rule of thumb. Real life decisions can only be made by viewing potential colours set against each other in the environment in which they are intended to sit. It is a decision that only a human eye can make; and our eyes bring with them a wealth of experience that we are always happy to share.