How colour affects mood and productivity

Choosing colour will ultimately affect one’s body, mind and emotional wellbeing; making an educated choice is not simply the selection of a hue; the question of the saturation/brightness and vibrancy of said hue also tremendously impacts one’s personal productivity within a space.  Therefore, as we all understand, colour is subjective: what might work for one individual, might react differently on other colleagues working within the same space. 

In our previous article Deciding on a Primary Colour, we touched on how using primaries can add boldness and also be fun whilst promoting activity and learning.  Now, as we examine how colour affects mood and productivity, the primaries feature heavily here too, so let’s delve a little deeper. 

From a branding perspective, colours used in a logo, for example, help the audience to understand what a business represents and what are its values.  Colour strongly affects emotions, and when companies acknowledge and embrace the relationship between colour and emotions within their branding, they will then be able to successfully convey their unique selling point to the consumer.

Visually, blue, blue green and green and violet all feel very cool, and generally speaking they are calming, fresh and nurture feelings of sustainability, confidence and reliability, so why is this we might ask ourselves?  It’s because of their universal associations with the natural elements such as the sky and the sea.  It’s no surprise that blue, being the World’s favourite hue, has a multitude of positive attributes: dependable, thoughtful, reflective, serene, relaxing and constant to name just a few. 

Attributes of blue green include feeling compassionate, protective, meditative, a sense of renewal, sensual and loyal.  Considering qualities of green hues, these include wellness, freshness, therapeutic, tranquillity, fertility, growth, and on the more negative side can invoke feelings of jealousy, and can sometimes lead to feelings of depression.

Based on this, ponder why these emotions are stimulated. Perhaps bright blue skies and sparkling turquoise seas make people reminisce about summer holidays and enjoyable past-times, vibrant greens remind one of summer meadows, moss covered forests, rich undergrowth, which all represent spells of time when they were, by definition, more relaxed? 

It’s proven that if an individual is relaxed, happy and feels secure in environment, then they are more likely to be creative and productive.  Popular Blue/green logos include American Express, Twitter, Facebook, Visa, Hewlett Packard: all of these organizations intentionally use these hues as they want their brand to be associated with the personality traits mentioned earlier.  Blue is linked with intelligence and promotes honesty and creativity in the workplace.  So being mindful of people’s colour associations plays an important part overall in how they are influenced. 

Previously, we wrote about biophilic design, whereby a building is closely connected with it’s occupants and the importance of incorporating natural elements into design projects is now widely acknowledged. This doesn’t just mean adding plants into a scheme.  The benefits greenery has on people’s wellness is now established as an enduring element in most built environments.  Green is the most common colour in nature; it promotes recovery and calming and again, green hues aren’t just aesthetically pleasing, green has a naturally calming effect on the way we feel and how our psyche feels nurtured and protected, and in turn, that feeling of wellness feeds into how productive we are.  Studies have shown that biophilic design in the workplace has reduced absenteeism and increased creativity.  We are not talking about the classic secondary colour, think more of dirty mossy greens or even fresh mint greens.  Nobody wants to work in an environment which reminds them of primary school. 

On the other end of the spectrum, when we look at warm colours: red, orange, magentas and yellow, we see they often represent feelings of happiness, optimism, boldness, self-assurance, energy, cheerfulness, they are perhaps indicative of a sense of urgency or danger (think hazard and warning signs).  This is where the importance of the brightness of a colour needs to be borne in mind when incorporating it into a space.   Red is associated with leadership, superiority and power, and can certainly cause stimulation, yet whilst initially it might prove inspiring, if too bold a hue is used for example, it may evidence over-stimulating and cause fatigue, tension and anxiety instead of being comforting, inspirational and energetic.  For an office environment, softer reds, coral hues, pinks and mustard hues might be a good compromise, instead of primary reds, vibrant oranges and bright yellows. 

Colour is not the only important element which is key in an environment; during the pandemic, the global population was, by necessity, obliged to become more sustainable, develop an appreciation for slow design, know about the integrity of items, identify how something could be reused, repurposed or adapted to last longer, and be generally kinder to the environment.  Materials and lighting systems in any project need to be factored into any design at the outset.  Educated choices made for materials used can be inspired both by the building and use of the space itself, and the choice is massive nowadays.  Lighting is an essential element of any space, and one must always be cognizant that any colour varies in natural and artificial light, and layered lighting is optimal for a working environment.     Commercial workspaces now need to be flexible and adaptable, be able to offer zones where people can focus, coupled with areas which will serve as informal gathering spaces; flexible and unrestrictive spaces are key to a creative space, offering an environment where the individual can feel inspired and safe and be a catalyst for them to be creative and be productive in order to really thrive. 

Which colours from the Architectural Polychromy are conducive to promoting productivity and are mood-enhancers, you ask?  As we said earlier in this article colour preferences are subjective, so considering the requirements of a space varies immensely.  All of Le Corbusier’s Architectural Polychromy stem from nature in some form or other, so used in the right scenario, many tick the boxes to promote productivity and enhance one’s mood.  4320B Blanc Ivoire is soft upon the eyes and a great neutral to pair with accent colours.  32031 Céruléen Vif is a combination of blue and green and can transform any workspace into a productive environment. Its intensity is the important element from a productivity perspective, so be cautious in over-utilizing it in a space, combining it with two others works very harmoniously.  32141 Ombre Naturelle Moyenne works very well in a space which needs to emit feelings of being powerful and strong, but can be softened by so many other colours.   4320P Terre Sienne Claire 59 is like a rich butter, works well in creative environments and can be beautifully accented by hues such as 4320D Terre Sienne Brûlée 59. 

For an unexpected louder, powerful colour, consider 4320M Le Rubis, a richly pigmented port-like sophisticated hue.  The rich velvety 32040 Vert Anglais is perfect for financial and healthcare facilities.  The cheerful and vibrant 4320S Orange Vif is a mood-lifter and perfect for creative industries, but be mindful of not using excessive amounts of it.  Combining blues and pastels can have also extraordinary effects – think of 4320T Bleu Outremer Foncé, 32111 L’Ocre Rouge Moyen and 32091 Rose Pâle:  the combination is both calming, sophisticated and uplifting, and visually this combination is quite exciting as there is interplay between the hues.

In summary, if a space is stimulating for the user, then it can encourage people to think differently.  There also need to be zones where the user can simply be reflective, relax and slow down.  Yet as demonstrated during the pandemic, it is essential to interact with people for one’s mental health and wellbeing, sharing ideas and collaborating is an essential part of so many environments.  Colour psychology is important in any scenario: a home office (or dining room) to work from home in or a commercial office building to a luxury hotel.  So be brave, embrace colour and create a harmonious environment to be productive in.   Remember not to use colours which are too energizing or too stimulating as these might eventually lead to fatigue and burnout.  A change of colour can alter people’s moods enormously.  Moods can be manipulated, bolstered or even destroyed by colour. Enriching our lives with colour makes us all more interesting, creates balance and intrigue and layers our lives, which is what we all need post-pandemic.

Lesen Sie weitere spannende Artikel :

Colour Philosophy in Architecture and Design – Grey (All about the Grey Scale) - Part III. »


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