Interior Design for the Mind: How Colors and Design Can Affect Your Psyche
You want to evoke a specific emotion from your customers and team when they are in your space. Understanding the psychology of interior design helps.
Before embarking on a design project, you and your interior designer are going to have a little talk. Part of it will be about ideas and inspiration, patterns and palettes, but a large part of the talk must be about the mood and the impression you want to create.
For a homeowner, talk of design and mood is often a no-brainer. Of course, a bedroom should be bathed in soothing colors. Design decisions in business, however, can often have consequences that reach beyond mood and impression. They can also impact productivity.
The importance of first impressions
The gateway to any office is the reception area. Its appearance is as important to setting the tone for your business as the greeting visitors get from the receptionist.
Playful or serious, it’s an area where your company’s personality and professionalism can shine.
- Color deeply affects mood. For example, primary colors are vibrant and cheerful, calling to mind summer days and childhood. Red suggests passion, power, and energy; orange motivates, comforts, and delights; yellow is sunshine, joy, and happiness. An interior designer will be able to discern what colors will work best for your clientele and employees and summon the appropriate emotions from them.
- Smart lighting and greenery always have a place in the reception area. Studies prove that natural features at offices and schools can help people’s performance, increase their attention spans and provide stress relief.
- Art pieces in the reception area also set the tone for your clients’ experience with your business. For example, a doctor’s office or hospital room should incorporate visual art. “There is increasing evidence that the display of visual art, especially images of nature, can have positive effects on health outcomes, including shorter length of stay in hospital, increased pain tolerance and decreased anxiety,” according to the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. Also consider using sculptures, wall hangings, and photographs.
- Seating should make guests feel comfortable. That is especially important in offices where your guests are waiting to do something that makes them nervous—like see their dentist, or get results from their doctor.
- Also consider the arrangement of your furniture. Will people want to feel private or be social? The way a space is laid out can foster either feeling.
- Artwork and accessories should compliment your brand. In fact, this is a chance to provide branded items, such as sweet treats or pens.
Working with color
Did you know that Leonardo da Vinci referenced some aspects of color theory in his famous notebooks? However, it wasn’t until the 18th century, when Sir Isaac Newton put all the pieces together, that a true theory was born.
In recent years, greater attention has been given to workspace design and how choices there can influence employee productivity and attitude, as well as brand impression.
Setting the tone with color
When considering where to begin, here a few ideas to keep in mind:
Blue is the color of water and sky and green is associated with nature. When used on walls, these colors have a calming effect on employees. Blue has been proven to lower blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration, while green can reduce anxiety.
Yellow and orange are stimulating colors. They can certainly energize employees, but proceed with caution. Orange can also stimulate appetites, and yellow can evoke frustration or anxiety. An interior designer can help incorporate these colors as an accent, rather than the main color scheme.
Basic red has been found to be a stimulant, increasing brain waves and heart rates. Too much, however, may be too stimulating, so it is once again a color to use as an accent.
Avoid deep reds, such as crimson; it can stimulate anger and hostility. Pink, though, is relaxing. (Some sports teams paint the visiting team’s locker room pink—to relax them into defeat.)
Neutral colors tone down or brighten up other colors. White, light gray, and beige do not stimulate on their own, so they need colorful accents. Brown can be both warm and de-energizing. Black and dark gray are best left as accent colors; too much can leave employees feeling depressed or sad.