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Not Just for Looks: The Impact Colour Has on Our Physical Spaces

1 April 2014

If you’re thinking red might just brighten up that boardroom, then you may want to reconsider. Colour has been proven to influence our emotions and behaviour, which in turn impacts on how productive we are and how we behave in a particular space.

Colour Psychology
*CC Image courtesy of

When planning to refurbish your office, retail, education, or some other type of facility, it’s vital to take into account the potential implications of your colour choice. A colour doesn’t just ‘look pretty’, it’s a contributing factor to how productive, collaborative and relaxed we are.

Warm and Cool Colours
The colour spectrum is divided into two parts – warm and cool. Warm colours are hues at the red end of the spectrum, whereas cool colours are those towards the blue end. Generally speaking, warm colours encourage feelings of energy, happiness, and teamwork. Warm colours can also help spur on aggressive behaviour as well. However, cool colours can help to create a calm environment and aids in concentration.

A colour’s ‘temperature’ can also affect our perception of how warm or cold a room is. People in warm coloured rooms generally think the air temperature is higher than those in cool coloured areas. This is something to bear in mind if you’re looking to control electricity costs.

Intensity of Colour
It’s not just the colour itself that impacts on our behaviour, but also how intense it is. Angela Wright, a world renowned colour psychologist, has discovered a strong colour tends to stimulate people, whereas a faded, light colour produces a calming and relaxing environment.

Blue is considered the most productive colour and people working in blue rooms generally work more efficiently than those in coloured rooms. Due to its productive capabilities, blue is a good colour to use in office areas and sites where a high output is required, such as in manufacturing.

As it’s a cool colour, blue also has a calming effect. In 2000, Glasgow installed blue street lights in particular suburbs as part of an urban enhancement programme. As an unintended consequence, the crime rate in these areas actually went down.

Often associated with nature and growth, green is recognised to promote a sense of balance. Green has relaxing qualities so it’s ideal in situations where possible tension or nerves need to be diffused. It can be effective in break rooms to promote relaxation, or combined with blue to create a stress-free productive space.

Green not only creates a relaxing environment, it’s also commonly used in promotion to evoke a sense of calmness as well. For example green or more specifically, a soft green is often associated with day spas. The notion of relaxation is central to this industry’s service offering and is often reflected in its branding.

White evokes a sense of space and light. It’s often associated with modernity and has been successfully used in store design for technology brands, such as Apple and Sony. However, the use of too much white can make spaces a little flat and dull. People within these spaces can become bored and want to leave, which isn’t ideal if your goal is productivity or sales.

Red is an emotionally charged colour. It helps to increase people’s heartbeats and the reaction time of their responses, while at the same time reduces the ability for analytical thinking. As mentioned in the first sentence of this article, it probably isn’t the best colour for the boardroom where productive and collaborative discussion is required.

This is not to say that red doesn’t encourage productivity, it does, but the physical kind. This may be the reason why many gyms include a strong red in their branding.

Yellow is an optimistic colour, but it’s also intense and should be used sparingly. As with red, too much yellow can also encourage aggression.

So, consider if the colour of your space is contributing to a productive environment, or is it actually antithetic to what you’re hoping to achieve. If it’s the later, we can help you change this. Speak to Programmed today.

If you want to see how a new productive colour scheme will look in your facility, try Dulux’s My Colour app.

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