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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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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‘Everyday + Finding the wonderful in the normal’ – The Dulux colour collection for 2015

Posted in colour, colour - psychology, colour education, colour schemes, colour schemes decorating, colour trends, colour-psychology, decorating colour ideas, Interior design, Orange, Pink, Trends on October 23rd, 2014 by Bernay

Every year Akzo Nobel invite a group of international independent design and colour trend experts to discuss emerging worldwide colour trends and consumer buying behaviour. After which, senior Dulux colour consultants develop five trend stories and colour palettes at the ColourFutures Workshop inspired by one larger idea or ‘driving influence’ that holds all of the trends together, including what their colour of the year will be.

Everyday + Finding the wonderful in the normal

For 2015, Akzo Nobel declare “the overriding mood is one of both searching for and finding that extra ‘something’ which makes the difference to our lives”.

“There is a renewed emphasis on developing a more caring, sharing environment for all. Sustainability is now a requirement rather than a preference; and it needs to be backed up by genuine commitment. It’s a reaction against consumerism; a celebration of difference and the wisdom to be found in unique, individual stories”.

colour of the year

Colour of the year – Copper Orange

Akzo Nobel have identified that a warmer spectrum of pinks, reds and oranges is emerging, reflecting a more positive global outlook, with metallic colour tones playing an increasingly important role in modern design.  This trend has been translated in to the ‘colour of the year’ – an orangey copper tone (Dulux Ref: 50YR 36/263).

The colour has been selected to complement all of the major trends that Akzo Nobel have identified for 2015: a warmth in attitude and a renewed emphasis on sharing; the natural palette of the earth, from clay tones to sunlit highlights of yellow and the skin tones that reflect human interaction and the sepia hues of the past.

Here are the 5 colour stories as developed by the ColourFutures team, with a brief summation of the inspiration for the concept.

big nature

Big nature + small me

Challenge. Adventure. Wisdom.

The concept for this palette of predominantly warm, rich and earthy shades has been inspired by a new definition of freedom and releasing of the constraints of the modern world by the interaction with the untameable and unpredictable elements of the natural world. “There is a trend for individuals that want to pit themselves against the elements to find out what they are truly made of”.

“It represents a more authentic existence and a new minimalism, stripping away all that is unnecessary and purely cosmetic”.

Layer + layer

Layer + layer

Multi-layers. Overlaid. Patterned.

This combination of predominantly soft and pastel hues, reflect the ‘layered’ trends from the design world and how the combination of different fading, overlaying techniques and opaque materials creates more depth in design.

Unseen spaces

Unseen spaces

Un-noticed. Re-interpretation. New Luxury

A palette of warm and cool tones and shades which we might consider as ‘decorating neutrals’, represents the theme of how we are “learning to value and make use of previously neglected, unseen or unloved areas of our environment and making a virtue out of negative space by creating beauty and use where previously there was none”.

Him + her

Him + her

Equality. Uniqueness. Balance

A palette of dark and light tones and shades, male (blue) and female (pink) colours, have been inspired by a growing trend towards ‘celebrating the best of each sex’ and the importance of difference as well as equality. Men and women are increasingly being encouraged to play on the traditions of masculinity and femininity and re-engage with more traditional ‘gender-appropriate’ interests and approaches.

Friendly barter

Friendly barter

Resourcefulness. Collaboration. Community.

Here, Akzo Nobel have tapped into one of the most significant social trends of recent years – “our rethinking and redefining of the concept of ‘ownership”.

This lively, quirky colour palette of predominantly warm shades have been inspired by the effects of an ever-increasing influence of the digital world and its influence in creating a new, collaborative economy of ‘friendly barter’ that has established itself and connected to the world of commerce.

“Consumerism is thus replaced by a sense of collective resourcefulness. Consumers now seek out goods and services via a collaborative model based on sharing and borrowing via a community of like-minded individuals”.

For more information about ColourFutures 2015, see here.

For more about the colour trend of orange, see here.

Would you be interested in learning more about colour? Have a look at our new course for 2015!

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50 ways with grey and other colour conundrums

Posted in choosing paint colours, colour, colour - psychology, colour schemes, colour schemes decorating, colour training, colour trends, colour-psychology, decorating colour ideas, Interior design on May 23rd, 2014 by Bernay

KLC Heals 2

An enjoyable time this week at Heal’s Design Day threw up some interesting customer ‘colour conundrums’ from Homes & Gardens magazine readers for me to solve.

Held at Heal’s store in Tottenham Court Road and in conjunction with KLC School of Design, readers were invited to come along with their decorating and design dilemmas.

Two main key themes emerged – those that were looking for inspiration on where to start with colouring a ‘blank canvas’ home, and those that were struggling with how to work the current trend for grey.

photos 047

The blank canvas

One of the best tips I can give for finding inspiration for decorating your home, is to create a mood board.

Collecting pictures, photos, and scraps of textiles that you like, and mounting them on a good size piece of card will help you to focus your thoughts and ideas about what you like.

You may find recurring themes of shapes, patterns, textures and colours which will give you some good pointers as to how to develop your own style. From there, you can collect swatches of fabric, wallpaper and paint samples inspired by your collection.

Painting yourself in to a corner

Grey is often described under the category of ‘neutral’ colours and as it’s essentially a mix of black and white, it can add some sophistication to a colour scheme. But, although grey is currently a colour trend, I have met an increasing number of people that have painted themselves in to a bit of a corner by decorating the whole room in it and realised that they haven’t felt quite comfortable – but don’t know why.

You only have to picture a gloomy grey sky with little light to imagine the dampening effect it might have on your mood. Similarly, too much of this colour will have that effect on how you feel in your home.

grey and green       grey and orange       grey and pink

Grey is however, an excellent background colour from which to ‘bounce’ other vibrant and interesting colours – and this is the key for how to make it work. If decorating with grey, choose a lively accent colour, one that perhaps is brighter and more dynamic  to bring your scheme to life.

From peppy reds to zingy orange, lime and yellow colours – choosing a more assertive colour to complement grey will add visual interest and create an eye-catching scheme.

Would you like to learn the secrets of creating a successful colour scheme?

Come and join me at the next Colour Psychology for Interior Design course – July 2014. More details here.


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How not to make the same decorating mistakes as Kate Middleton!

Posted in choosing paint colours, colour, colour schemes decorating, decorating colour ideas, Interior design on March 23rd, 2014 by Bernay


Image courtesy of YOU magazine

Image courtesy of YOU magazine

Putting together a decorating scheme should be an enjoyable exercise for any couple creating their new home. But, if like Kate you’re finding that buttercup paint colour which seemed so fabulous daubed on the wall looks more like acid lemon – I have some tips to help you avoid making the same mistake again!

Apparently, Kate tried to colour match a Farrow & Ball colour with a Dulux colour. This can be a cost-saving exercise, but be aware, some paint companies offer a ‘colour matching’ service when what they’re really offering is a colour match that is ‘closest to’ a colour that they have in their own range. This – as possibly happened to Kate – can mean that the colour you thought you bought will look quite different when you get it home and on the walls!

Some things to remember when choosing colour

When it comes to choosing colour, there are no strict rules but there are many factors to take into consideration. Architecture, the purpose, shape and direction of a room and above all light, should be taken into account as they will contribute to the changing appearance of colours.

Pay attention to how the light moves through your house and the effect it has at different times of the day. For instance, if you are decorating a dining room which is mostly used in the evening, check colours in evening light to ensure you get your desired look.

Try before you buy. Before making your final colour choice, test selected paint colours in the room to be decorated. But, don’t be tempted to paint out your pots of colour samples all together on one wall. The appearance of a colour can be changed by a colour next to it, and your eye will become confused looking at so many different colours together. You’ll not be able to judge which ones you like so easily. Paint your sample out onto a piece of paper, card or even the inside of a shoe box and place it in the room to be decorated looking at how the colour changes at different times of the day.

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