Setting the Tone for Commercial Interiors

Carefully considered colour schemes for commercial buildings such as offices can benefit users by assisting with wayfinding, wellbeing and even productivity. With the majority of people still working from home at the moment, now is the ideal time to refresh workplaces to create an inviting interior that staff will look forward to returning to. Here, Crown Paints’ Colour Consultant, Kathryn Lloyd, addresses how to style a fresh and on-trend colour scheme which will tick all the right boxes.


Wellness and wellbeing

When it comes to our health and wellbeing, the use of colour is essential as it plays a major role in the overall atmosphere in a commercial building’s interior.

Colour is almost entirely subjective, which means that every individual responds to different shades uniquely, so preferences can’t always be generalised. Culture, language and memories all contribute towards the impact colour has on our behaviour. The field of colour psychology explores the impact colour has on human behaviour. While this remains an area where there is so much more to learn, continuous research is developing our knowledge and understanding.

Crown’s colour consultants work with specifiers to help create spaces that benefit the user, applying elements of colour psychology to make that a reality. Many environments demand different interior colour schemes depending on their use – office space, meeting rooms and canteens, for example, will all require a slightly different approach.

Green, in particular, has become a popular interior colour recently, with its instant association with nature and sustainability. And with the well-known link between nature and wellbeing, it’s undoubtedly a colour to consider for commercial buildings, particularly areas where a calming, restful space is needed.

As a general rule, muted shades are seen as calmer, while vibrant colours are more energetic, and this can have an effect both mentally and physically. Muted colours can set the scene for quiet individual working areas, while brighter bold shades encourage creativity and are best suited to meeting rooms or breakout areas.

That said, there needs to be a balance – it’s relatively easy to propose calming blue or green hues in an office, but this could result in an uninspiring space. It has been shown that bland colour schemes can result in people being under-stimulated, leading to restlessness. In contrast, an overly busy scheme can cause irritability and over-stimulation.

Signposting to help with wayfinding

Equally, you can use colour to help wayfinding, especially in corridors and other circulation areas. Specifying different colours in different locations or levels of a building, known as ‘zoning’, is a simple way to help users navigate their way around easily.

Colour is also a key consideration for creating inclusive and fully-accessible environments that cater to those with dementia, autism, or with visual impairments. Something as simple as highlighting the edge of a stair tread with an intense colour can help visitors easily distinguish steps.

Colours must complement each other and provide the required level of tonal contrast. Contrast can be determined by the light reflective values (LRVs) of each colour, which relates to the amount of visible light reflected when illuminated by a light source. On a scale from 0 to 100 – where zero is assumed to be an absolute black and 100 to be an entirely reflective white (white paint has an LRV of 90) – it is recommended that there is a difference of approximately 30 points between the colours. You can use contrast shades to highlight features such as doorways, access areas and handrails, as required under the Equalities Act.

Trends with real longevity

While interior design trends are regularly refreshed and updated, they differ from the ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ approach of fast fashion trends. Many paint brands, like Crown Paints, invest heavily in developing new colour trends each year, using their expertise to consider several factors from a broad appeal to the feeling particular shades can evoke. Such trends are inspired by what is current to make them relevant and anchored in the here and now but are devised to avoid looking dated as soon as the new season’s trends are announced.

This year, Crown has identified and curated six unique trends in response to the feelings evoked by the last 12 months of uncertainty and lockdowns.

There is a real thirst for colour right now. People are turning to colour to help enhance their mood – which is always the case in uncertain times. The desire to express ourselves, experiment and not follow a well-trodden route of tried and tested colour combinations all drives current colour trends. Crown is seeing specifiers embracing the opportunity to bring more of the colours they love into their designs.

From natural, earthy tones to lively bold colours and contemporary, futuristic schemes, Crown’s 2021 colour trends are fluid, with different colours and shades all sitting within each palette so that there’s plenty of scope to add individual personality and style. This offers designers the option to take as much or as little inspiration from the trends to create a perfectly tailored look for each commercial building and the staff who call it home during the working day.

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