Colourful Houseboat Community

Posted in colour on October 20th, 2015 by Bernay

Having moved over the summer months to the Sussex coast, I’ve been enjoying getting to know my new surroundings and reveling in exploring the diversity of its creative culture.

A walk along the towpath of the small coastal town of Shoreham takes you past a particularly eclectic community of houseboats whose character and eccentricity vibrate with colour.

houseboat1  houseboat3

IMG_20150920_105940 houseboat2







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Can colour really influence the workplace?

Posted in Blue, colour, colour - psychology, colour schemes, colour schemes decorating, colour trends, Interior design, Purple, Red, Trends, Yellow on March 22nd, 2015 by Bernay

As the nature of the way we work evolves, the influence on office space design is becoming more modular and flexible, with more social space and colour.

A research paper by Kalyan N. Meola, with the University of Hawaii at Hilo, states that visual elements including colour, can have an influence on employee behaviour.

Colour can make you feel like you are in a better-designed environment. It can change the perception of space as well as create an ambience. Interior colour design or ‘visual ergonomics’, has become an important consideration to the manufacturing workrooms and company offices, as to the corporate boardroom. Appropriate use of colour can not only maximise productivity levels, but it can also stimulate collaboration, creativity and cooperation.

Pioneering this revolution of work-space design is Google who are currently researching the effect of colour on their employees. Early findings in to which colours make employees and departments more productive indicate “a clear link between colour and satisfaction within a person’s work area, which in turn can boost employee creativity and productivity.”

google2  google 3

Whilst the Google brightly coloured ‘Crayola’ approach to colour in the workplace may not appeal to all company CEOs, Google have recognised that a work environment needs to be stimulating and support employees in a way that in turn encourages positive performance.

David Radcliffe, vice president of Google’s Real Estate & Workplace Services whose job it is to create the perfect working environment, has been overseeing the research in to the impact of colour. Radcliffe said of the trial of purple,“We actually get a negative response out of this colour so you probably won’t see it popping up in other parts of the company. … I don’t know what it is but it doesn’t work in the work environment.”

Determining the function of a workspace and deciding how you want your clients and staff to feel in their environment, or what you’d like to encourage them to do, is key to developing the best colour scheme. In the case of the colour purple, its effect can be a little inhibiting, perhaps causing one to feel a little introspective or even introverted.

So exactly how does colour affect the environment and which colours are the best to use?

In general, strong, contrasting colours can be visually exciting and stimulating, whilst softer, muted tones can promote a calmer atmosphere. Certain shades of the right colours have the ability to increase productivity, communication and stimulate ideas.

red office

For example, red is a colour that essentially activates, so it’s a useful colour to use in areas where a lot of energy is required.

blue office

Lighter blue tones can be mentally soothing, whereas stronger blues are more mentally stimulating, so can be suitable for admin/office areas to encourage better thought processes and efficiency.

office foyer yellow

Yellow inspires self-confidence, optimism and friendliness and so can be an ideal colour to think about using in ‘welcome’ areas and dining rooms etc. and green is a colour that can be reassuring and restful.


Brighter green colours are more refreshing and so can be great colours for rest room areas, kitchens etc.

In general, different palettes of colour lend themselves better to certain ‘styles’ of environment. E.g. a modern/contemporary facility or business may suit being decorated in clean, clear, brighter colours. A period property or more traditional business will lend itself to be decorated in either more muted intense shades, or lighter, softer muted tones.

As well as being mindful of corporate and branding colours – design and colour trends influence choice too.

Sustainability and economic consciousness have been a key theme for office interiors over the last few years, reflected in the creation of a more natural-looking environment with simple, down-to-earth colour schemes and more latterly, the introduction of some intense neon-like colour.

grey and neon

Future interior and furnishing trends indicate that bold colours will still feature but more saturated and intense. More fluorescent ‘acid tints’ will feature too. Both these colour palettes will work well mixed in with the third colour trend towards a simple and sophisticated palette of grey, stone, charcoal and black.

Inky-blue will also be a very strong colour trend. Highlight it with a flash of something crisp and fresh such as lime-yellow – another key colour trend – which will lift it in to something more modern and forward-thinking.


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Think you know about colour psychology?

Posted in Blue, Branding, colour, colour - psychology, colour and branding, colour-psychology, Gold, Green, Pink, Purple, Red, Yellow on December 6th, 2014 by Bernay

The trick you might be missing for successfully using colour in design

In the quest to distill the huge topic that is colour psychology in to a short, snappy, bite-size, explain-all solution; there have been quite a few ‘infographics’ put out there.


Under the umbrella term of colour psychology, various colours are depicted and their meanings explained using a mix of popular colour symbolism and the results of marketing surveys. But, very little of the information appears to be from an authentic study of colour psychology – the influence of colour on human emotion. Nor, does it account for how the difference between shades, tints or tones of the same colour might affect colour choice.

For example, we might have a resistance to a fiery pimento red, but a softer, more pinkish tone might be more pleasing.

When I ask an audience to think of their response the colour yellow, quite often it seems to provoke somewhat of a ‘marmite’ like it/don’t like it reaction, as many people usually have the primary yellow colour in mind! But the colours of soft butter, lemon yellow, ochre, daffodil, primrose and saffron – to name but a few, are also tones of yellow that may appeal more to our senses.


Each colour can evoke a negative or positive response in us. The positive qualities of yellow are that it can uplift our emotions, boosting our self -esteem and confidence. A negative response would be that the colour may make us feel anxious, nervous or even nauseous. This negative or positive reaction to a colour is determined by our individual personality and the particular tone of the yellow used.

In one of my previous blogs “Why do we have colour?” I mention the research of Anya Hurlbert founding Director of the Institute of Neuroscience, who says – “there is an underlying universality to colour preference but, there is also individuality in choice, which underpins the understanding of those of us that work with the psychology of colour”.

There are so many more layers to the understanding of colour psychology and how to use it intelligently in design, than just a ‘one size fits all’ approach. That said, once understood, the principles are beautifully simple and have the ability to revolutionise the approach of any designer working with colour.

In general, individually we are more likely to be drawn towards groups of colours which share certain characteristics in their composition. For example, one person might respond more positively towards softer, bluish tones which seem more sophisticated and appealing to them than bright, clear tints which may seem ‘child-like’.

softer, bluish tones

softer, bluish tones

bright, clear tints

bright, clear tints

Another individual may be more drawn to warm, earthy shades and find strong, contrasting, clear colours overwhelming.

warm, earthy shades

warm, earthy shades

strong, contrasting clear hues

strong, contrasting clear hues

So, the most ‘colour savvy’ designer should be thinking creatively about the most appropriate version of yellow to use and what they want it to convey; is the bright, cheerful, friendly, optimistic yellow more appropriate than the dusty, quietly confident yet sophisticated soft yellow?

The secret to then making the whole design more cohesive, is to work with other colours in your palette that share the same characteristics. They will have a natural visual harmony which will appeal to us instinctively, whilst also promoting each individual colour’s positive ’emotive’ qualities.

For more insights on the use of colour psychology for branding and product design, you might like to view my presentation on Slideshare – “Why your brand colours matter – and how colour is your sales tool”

You might also like to read any of these blogs!: Chocolate brand captures quality with colour, How does colour influence your customer’s purchasing decisions?, Blue is the colour, Packaging design for wholesome premium foods, Colour psychology for children’s brands, Luxury branding – the power of purple, Pink branding – it’s not just for girls!, Which colour turns you off?, Going for gold, Brit-branding – is red, white and blue good for you?, 3 quick tips for using colour in branding, Going green – McDonalds?, Red and the Virgin empire

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What to mix with Marsala? Pantone’s colour of the year for 2015

Posted in choosing paint colours, colour, colour schemes, colour schemes decorating, colour trends, Gold, Interior design, Purple, Red, Trends on December 5th, 2014 by Bernay

Launched as the colour of the year and described as like a red wine – “hardy, robust, satisfying and fulfilling – yet glamorous”, Marsala is Pantone’s colour for 2015.

Pantone_Color_of_the_Year_Marsala_Story_One_Image3                    Pantone Marsala

Image courtesy of Pantone                                                                            Pantone Marsala

While it’s not the colour of any wine I’ve ever drunk, it does have a touch of the timbre of cherry brandy about it. I wouldn’t describe it as a robust colour, but it does have a subtle depth.

This warm, reddish hue benefits from being worked in with other yellow-based colours including turquoise, teal, mustard, ochre, gold, aubergine-purple and deeper burnt orange. Not so much the brighter oranges though, or you’re in danger of tipping over in to the 70’s look! Pantone’s Marsala also works quite well with Dulux colour of the year for 2015 – Copper Orange!


Marsala mix                                                                                                             Copper orange

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The colour revolution

Posted in colour, colour - psychology, colour schemes, colour schemes decorating, colour trends, silver, Trends on November 4th, 2014 by Bernay

How technology and urban regeneration could inspire us towards a lighter, brighter colour trend

For much of the world, global interaction with the ‘web’ and the growing use of technology has for many, changed the face of the way we live and work.

Wearable technology such as Google’s Glass, an interactive pair of glasses with O.H.M.N (Optical Head-Mounted Display) that allow the wearer to navigate, send messages, play music and even improve their golf swing, perhaps moves us a step closer to ‘intuitive’ technology that becomes less an accessory, so much as an integrated  part of our biological being.


Indeed, colour blind artist and ‘eyeborg’ Neil Harbisson, who suffers from a condition known as achromatopsia, has developed a ‘creative antennae’ now permanently embedded in his skull. The internet-enabled device allows him to experience colour as audible sound waves.

But whilst advancing technology has the undoubted potential to improve the quality of and even extend human life, its growth and importance to the way we live, interact with each other and its impact on commerce, means many of the world’s populace now have desk-bound jobs and careers.

Long gone are the days where a higher proportion of work was manual labour. A calorie or carb-rich diet which would have been naturally burned off as fuel for work, now settles itself on the butt, thighs and stomach in swathes of the world’s westernised population.

However, we are now seeing something of an awakening to these problems via a global initiative that is begining to address the effect that the combined problems of inactivity and unhealthy diets have on our well-being.

Many organisations including planning authorities, professional bodies and private companies are attempting to address the issues by working with designers and architects to design buildings and public spaces that encourage daily activity.

Design Council

In the UK, the Design Council has launched the ‘Active’ programme which builds on government health research that shows how people’s quality of life can be improved through better design.

Another movement involving change to the environment is the increase in pop-up colour initiatives, where collaborations of artists and colourists seek to improve the appearance of  environments and buildings suffering from urban decay,  with the use of (often) quite bright colour palettes.

Colouring the grey city - Cairo’s dish painting initiative (image by Rowan El Shimi courtesy of arhamonline)

Colouring the grey city – Cairo’s dish painting initiative (image by Rowan El Shimi courtesy of arhamonline)

Dulux Let’s Colour project – Lido Cinema, Cork

Dulux Let’s Colour project – Lido Cinema, Cork

An increased awareness in the need for the inclusion of more activity in our daily lives could lead us toward a trend for more energising and playful colours used in design; which I see as represented by a lighter, brighter colour palette featuring fresher versions of colours such as aqua-blue and red. When the mood is down, these colours are generally found to be more cheerful and uplifting and it’s no surprise that these kinds of colours are used in urban colour projects.

With the advances in technology becoming more intuitive, I see our response to this represented by the clarity of the sensitive, reflective yet modernist metallic colour of silver.

The colour revolution

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