The right use of colour in the office

Farben im Büro richtig einsetzen

A brief excursion through the psychology of colours

Why is it important to pay attention to the right colours and colour combinations when planning an office? “Colours are visualised feelings”, says psychologist, philosopher and colour consultant Max Lüscher. And the effects of colours are greater than we perceive. They influence our psyche, our mood, our feelings, and how we behave. Colours can calm or agitate us, and influence bodily processes such as metabolism, hormone balance, and heartbeat, pulse, and breathing frequencies. We might even perceive certain colour combinations or shades as loud, quiet, invasive, unobtrusive, warm, cold, soft or hard.

This is why the colour design of office spaces should not be left to chance or just the subjective taste of the person in charge. Because in the end, it has an effect on employees’ productivity. An office atmosphere can have an inspirational effect and improve the quality of the office experience, and in this way can promote productivity and creativity. So colours can be implemented in the office for different purposes, e.g. as a signal to help with orientation by marking different areas or to warn against danger.

The secret to colour coding

Of course, personal taste plays a large role in the colour palette of office spaces - ultimately, employees should feel comfortable. Nonetheless, some rules must be followed. The planning professionals at ASSMANN and at ASSMANN’s specialist partners are always ready and able to assist in choosing the ideal colour scheme.

Visual problems, difficulty in concentrating, and the effects of tiredness can all be reduced by considering light and colour when planning an office space. The light reflected from different surfaces and objects should be in a similar spectrum. Therefore, it is just as important to avoid dark work surfaces that can lead to a pronounced dark-light contrast when covered in papers, as it is to stay clear of glare caused by lighting or daylight. Additionally, the number of colours used, as well as the chosen colour spectrum, the relationship between surfaces and colours, and the position of coloured surfaces also play a significant role. A balanced colour design means that the user experiences neither monotony nor a sensory overload. Few and corresponding colour tones, varied colour saturations and gradations in the lightness of colours create harmonious contrasts, which are perceived as pleasant.

Colours and ergonomics

The ergonomics of colour are not to be ignored. Here, a distinction is made between ergonomic accent, surface, and room colours. Ergonomic accent colours are all primary and secondary colours, black, brown, or the corporate colours of a company. They can be used on small sections, such as areas of the floor or on chairs and accessories. Ergonomic surface colours include white, beige, mauve, pale blue, pale green and mid-grey tones. They are ideal for work surfaces, and larger surfaces such as front panels and large pieces of furniture. Ergonomic room colours include white, pastel colours, and a very light grey as complementary colours for walls and ceilings.

If ergonomic colour aspects are to be considered in planning an office space, a relatively dark colour should be chosen for flooring, and lighter colours are advisable for the walls because they have a space-expanding effect. And for the ceilings, a colour ever so slightly lighter than the wall colour should be used. There are still enough possibilities to add a personal touch to the colour design by using tasteful accents.