Let colour into your workplace.

International Colour Day takes place on March 21st and was set up to encourage the world to embrace colour. Colour is a key component in creating workspaces that motivate and inspire, and at Claremont we’re no strangers to some of the challenges and concerns that clients have about its use.

Being bold with colour doesn’t have to mean garish designs like a child’s playroom; it be achieved in a number of ways through different applications, techniques and shades.

Colour can bring energy, calm, sophistication, clarity and a whole host of other feelings to the spaces we use every day. We refer to colours all the time in our speech and often, to sum up our moods. Someone is feeling blue, it’s a miserable grey day, they’re rolling out the red carpet, are green with envy or tickled pink. Colour conveys emotions, feeling and personality and it does the same in space. Used well, colour can uplift, inspire, aid our decision-making and improve productivity. Used poorly, it can make spaces feel gloomy, oppressive and demotivating.

Colour theory explains the commonly held feelings and emotions that different colours evoke. Greens and blues are considered good for focus, calm and wellbeing. Reds are more active and intense, while yellows suggest energy and freshness (see Taskword’s colour infographic for more information).

For a time, colour in the workplace was limited to corporate greys and neutrals or worse still, it was wholly reserved for brand colours, as if brand expression must mirror the company logo.

Nowadays, there’s an acceptance that colour in the workplace is not confined to brand and that it should be used to evoke the right feelings and responses from the people using the spaces, be they employees or visitors, as well as to reflect the culture of an organisation.

Lots of the big global brands that have been thrown into the interiors spotlight are all brave with colour. However, looking at pictures of Google’s brightly coloured San Francisco office doesn’t necessarily fill every business with confidence as to how to use colour for themselves.

Here are five ways to be brave and confident with colour in the workplace:

1. Being brave with colour doesn’t have to mean putting it on all the walls. Use it to create a focal point in your workspace – it could draw your eye to a particular area, or importantly, draw your eye away from something else.

2. Don’t get hung up on your brand colour or colours. What other colours are in your brand palette? Would other colours show off your organisation’s personality or culture?

3. Colour isn’t fixed. Don’t just think about colour in terms of painted, fixed walls. You can introduce colour to your space in lots of ways – through furniture, finishes, light fittings, artwork, flooring and more.

4. Colour can be a great aid to wayfinding. Use colour in carpets to show the preferred route or on the walls to denote different zones, departments or functions.

5. Think about how different colours make you feel. Greens can be quite calming; reds suggest energy, and so on. If you have a training space where you want your employees to feel engaged, then painting it a dark blue isn’t the best way to encourage activity and participation.

Here are five businesses that have the use of colour just right.

1. Blake Envelopes in Yeovil. The use of the blue sky and green grass evokes calm and clarity and quite literally brings the outside in.

2. Auto Trader in Manchester. Splashes of colour have been introduced into this otherwise neutral office through vibrant multi-media walls, car meeting rooms and eye-catching doors to meeting rooms. This brings an injection of playfulness and energy into the space without feeling childlike.

3. DWF in Bristol. The client suite and reception have brought the brand to life quite literally, recreating the lozenge of its logo for a statement carpet. This also helps to clearly demarcate the reception space for visitors.

4. PADI in Bristol. International diving trainer trainer PADI has used aquatic colours in keeping with the sea to create a stimulating yet relaxing space.

5. Shoosmiths in Birmingham. This office shows that legal firms don’t need to be staid or corporate. The grey base has been offset with vibrant colours from the brand palette, appearing in bespoke artwork, desk screens and even meeting room manifestations.

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