Used by savvy brands and businesses for decades to put their customers into a buying mood, colour is a pretty powerful tool, and one that’s often underestimated and under-utilised, when fitting out offices and other commercial spaces.
From putting medical patients in waiting rooms at ease (not easy!), to getting more meaning out of meetings, creating a fab first impression with new clients and creating a calm, collaborative corporate environment, colour can play a massive (and multi-coloured) part.
There’s no question colour influences our mood and behaviour in such an instinctive way we don’t usually know it’s happening, and while most people put a tonne of thought into choosing wall colours, sofa fabrics, manchester and scatter cushions for their home….what about the colours we’re surrounding ourselves with at work?
Whether you want a stimulating (advertising agency) or a soothing environment (day spa), colour is a simple but super effective tool to entice new business, improve morale and tell your unique story.
Where to start
For those all-powerful people choosing the colours for any office or commercial setting, Matt Blatt’s Commercial Manager, Tamara Bajic advises first thinking how you want your customers, and employees, to feel in a space…and letting everything else flow from there.
“We all know how critical first impressions, are…especially in business, where perception is everything. Do you want your customers to feel confident, inspired, at-ease or entertained? The right colours, selected to reflect your brand and create a positive, reassuring ambience, can get any interaction off to a great start, whether it’s with prospective customers, suppliers, clients or patients,” she added.
Whether you want your company to appear sophisticated, confident, creative, collaborative or calm – there’s a colour scheme to pull it off.
And while there are conventional colour schemes often associated with specific industries – neutrals, black and wood-grain finishes for businesses in finance and law; whites and brights for creative agencies, rosy hues for salon style or pale blues and greens in the medical field – there’s plenty of scope to use accent furniture and accessories to inject personality and boost productivity.
“With companies increasingly paying more attention to their interior styling, we’re increasingly developing iconic commercial products in fresh colourways tailored to suit a business’ unique colour scheme,” explained Tamara. “A prime example is our popular Replica Eames Group Standard Aluminium chairs, which we’re now crafting in fresh new leather colours for customers seeking something beyond the conventional monochrome and tan selections.”
Not in a position to strip out and re-fit the entire office? No problem. We’ve compiled our top tips for using colour in designated areas to set the scene, whether through a lick of paint or the addition of fresh seating, faux greenery, a swish new sofa or artwork and accessories.
Reception areas & waiting rooms
To create a welcoming first impression, use colours which tie in with your branding – logo, corporate colours, website – but feel free to soften them somewhat if your brand colours are especially bold. Avoid stark white rooms which feel too clinical, uncomfortable….and bland. If you’d prefer to stick with neutrals, use rugs, plants, artwork and colourful chairs to inject personality and make a memorable impression. Rich cool shades off navy, forest green and charcoal are excellent choices for businesses wanting to come across as serious, responsible and sophisticated.
Throughout the office
Cool colours – blues, greens, greys – are popular picks for their ability to soothe, boost concentration, and minimise anxiety, but balance is key, as wall-to-wall blues, particularly in darker shades, can tip over from relaxing to melancholy without careful consideration, so it’s a good idea to add warm elements and accents to up the energy levels and drive productivity with a splash of red, orange, pink or yellow. An easy way to achieve this is to paint the walls blue or green and then to add bright desk chairs, rugs or paintings to attract the eye.
Still in the blue family, turquoise is a popular colour for training rooms, as it’s been shown to inspire creativity and communication, while yellow helps people absorb and retain information, so add a little sunshine to the space – near the white board or screen if it’s a visual presentation – to help new skills sink in.
The colour for collaboration and concentration, green is the hue to be seen in meeting rooms and boardrooms if you want to get things done!
Whether it’s a staff lounge, kitchen, canteen – even the hallways – these are the spaces to experiment with colour and express the more vibrant, whimsical side of your personality, without impacting day-to-day productivity. From a purple hallway to a sunny yellow canteen or orange kitchen, smaller spaces are ideal for playful picks which stimulate energy and invoke optimism.
Need a little more guidance? Check out our rundown of the entire rainbow – and the meaning, and mood, associated with different colours:
Associated with energy, excitement, activity, power and courage, red is an intense colour which can boost the heart rate and brain function for short bursts, but it’s the enemy of long-term concentration. Best used as an accent – on chairs, artwork, cushions – or to attract attention to a new product, red is a bold choice for breakout areas rather than as a wall colour in any space where people spend long periods of time. Red is also known to stimulate appetite, making it an intelligent choice for restaurants and dining rooms.
A warm colour signifying fun, frivolity and energy, orange is a great colour for a canteen or kitchen to give employees an energy boost, and to ‘wake them up’ for the afternoon activities ahead.
Although it’s associated with confidence, optimism, creativity, emotion and friendliness, many people aren’t fans of yellow, so if you’re looking for widespread appeal, proceed with caution. Too much yellow can increase stress and irritation, while softer shades of yellow have been shown to assist innovation so may be clever choices for creative workplaces – in moderation. To harness the positive qualities of yellow, use it in small doses, such as through artwork, or in occasional chairs.
Universally liked and known for being balanced, refreshing, reassuring, the colour of nature and easy on the eye, green encourages efficiency and wards off fatigue, making it an inspired choice for libraries, studies, boardrooms and workspaces where long periods of concentration are the norm. Green is soothing, puts people at ease and gives off an air of eco-friendliness, with dark green often representing wealth and prestige.
Associated with trust, logic, efficiency, concentration and calm, blue is the favourite colour of more people worldwide than any other, so using it as a base for any commercial interior is likely to please more people than not. It’s also been shown to increase productivity and help study. It does, however, have a negative effect on appetite, so it’s a less favoured choice in the food industry.
PINK & PURPLE
A top pick for businesses in the pampering and beauty sectors where a cosy, comforting, indulgent ambience is called for, too much pink, especially in soft shades, may dampen the energy and appear too casual for many other workplace settings. Luxurious, spiritual, regal and visionary, purple encourages deep thinking and meditation.
BLACK & WHITE
Sophisticated and glamorous, black anchors a room but can seem overbearing and cold if not used in moderation. White is contemporary, clean, simple and heightens the perception of space, but an all-white workplace can be blinding, boring and counteract creativity, so be sure to accent with colour to avoid a sterile, uptight atmosphere.