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“Making Colour Work for You”

This is an article about colour considerations for a variety of commercial projects. George Zarogiannis of Ecopainting is speaking to Sylvia O’Brien of Colour Theory

Sylvia, When you’re developing a colour palette for commercial clients, I suppose the choice of colours for  each commercial space depends on the clients’ needs & the intended use of the space. Any industry specific general considerations?

There certainly are George.
 The nature of the project definitely directs the type of colour range used.
…..Is it corporate? ….care giving? ….retail?
 All of these projects get a unique treatment. Here are a few examples of what needs consideration:

            The 2 key ingredients in colour consultation for restaurants are establishing image & supporting function.
Image / creating an experience through atmosphere
Function / colour that whets appetite &  good conversation.
 Dining areas require different colour treatment than prep areas.
 The restaurant experience, & even the length of stay can be influenced by colour usage.

            For office interiors branding & function are the considerations. Part of a successful outcome is understanding how each space is used & by who.  Colour can increase (or decrease) productivity… and therefore, the bottom line.
Careful consideration of colour pays off in more ways than one.

            Colour trend is important for these spaces--- not the trend of the moment, but a general treatment that will be accepted easily by most homeowners & new home buyers (a trend that can work now, & 7 to 10 years from now).  A key factor, however, is making sure the colour range used is  sympathetic to the architecture (ie. Do they tell the same ‘story’?).

            A recent trend in hotel interiors is to incorporate a ‘homier’ less institutional feel, reflecting local character to enhance the experience for the guest.
 Large chain hotels are an exception to this as their branding is strengthened by their familiarity, whether in Ottawa or Paris.
            Variable colour nuance is required in each area . The lobby (the jewel at the centre of the hotel environment) is treated differently than the communal halls, private rooms or restaurant. Each colour has a job to do.

            The results of colour consultation in retail should reflect the store’s image, especially at the entry & point of purchase. Colour should create excitement & support the brand of the store.  However, the sales floor is a backdrop to accommodate the many changing colours of merchandise that will channel through it. In a large retail facility colour coding can  help direct the customer, streamlining the shopping process and minimizing confusion.

            There are 3 major groups to contend with in a health care facility…Patient, staff & visitor. For this type of project we orchestrate the colour palette to support all, but in different ways. Colour usage at the emergency waiting room is very different than  the front desk or the recovery areas & private rooms.
Certain colours act as a tonic to our bodies. Colour can help aid healing, lift spirits, settle nerves, & direct traffic . It can also allow a surgeon deeper concentration & less eyestrain… or calm an emotional family member.

            Correct colour use can enhance the absorption of information & facilitate the thinking process. This applies to the classroom as well as the transitional areas in an educational facility. Even within the classroom itself, variety in colour has proven to support the learning process & reduce eyestrain & fatigue.
            I always keep in mind, not just what the students are seeing, but also what the instructor will be experiencing.

            In general, children under the age of 8 prefer the warm side of the palette. Room function must be taken into consideration. Is it a room in which they’ll play & nap? If so the surrounding colours must support both activities. Variety in colour is important for creative stimulation, so transition areas & lunch areas present an opportunity to bring variety to the mix.

            I like to recommend a cleaner, less complicated colour palette for the elderly. Vision compromised by cataracts, glaucoma & macular degeneration can seem to
 have a ‘greying’ effect over surrounding colour.
 Depression is another factor than can be lessened by correct use of colour. I avoid large areas of white on a project like this as it generates an institutional feeling & creates eyestrain.

So George, there is a brief outline on the things to consider . Of course there are no ‘ultimate ‘ answers as consulting for colour of each project is unique!

Sylvia O’Brien / Colour Theory

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