Workspaces get creative and cosy with colour

Mandy Leeming, Design and Development Manager for Interface EMEA, discusses that by aligning colour psychology with design trends, companies can create flexible and productive environments while giving employees the freedom to choose where and how they work best.


A skilled Designer with over 25 years’ industry experience, Mandy Leeming heads up a team of five designers that develop new products for the EMEA region. Mandy has been part of the Interface design team since the late 1980s, when the first UK design studio was set up.


t has been well documented in recent years that focusing on the wellbeing of employees in the workplace can have a significant impact on the financial performance of a company. There is also a clear and measurable link between the way a space is designed and employee productivity, which is why more companies are prioritising workplace design at boardroom level.

However, creating environments that work for the employees and the various tasks they carry out, while facilitating workplace efficiency requires careful planning.

Designing for success

There are several things to consider to ensure workplace designs deliver spaces in which employees can flourish; from layout to decoration, air quality to natural light.

The colour palette used in a workspace also has a profound effect on employees, with recent research suggesting it can affect mood and the ability to perform even the simplest of tasks to the full extent. Discussing the psychology of colour, Leslie Harrington, Executive Director of the Colour Association of the United States, said: “We have an innate reaction to colour on multiple social and cultural levels.”

The colour blue, for example, encourages productivity, while red tones increase anxiety, making them less suited for use in spaces where concentration is required. Green has cool, refreshing qualities and promotes feelings of restoration. Green is also used in design to emulate and reflect nature and inspire creativity. In fact, research suggests that simply seeing the colour green can lead to measureable improvements in creative tasks.

This growing demand for nature-inspired design even inspired the colour matching company Pantone to announce ‘Greenery’ as its Colour of the Year for 2017. Discussing this year’s selection, Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, said: “We know what kind of world we are living in – one that is very stressful and very tense. Greenery is the colour of hopefulness and of our connection to nature.”

A home from home?

It’s not just nature that is inspiring workplace design. In recent years the textile industry has seen a huge uptake in offices designed as a ‘home from home’. The popular Danish concept of Hygge and the more recent Icelandic trend, Gluggadedur, have encouraged business leaders to take an entirely different approach to workplace design, using warm tones to emulate a feeling of cosiness.

While trends like Hygge and Glugaggedur use colour palettes that are somewhat neutral and muted, others are much more striking. The Digital Wave trend, for example, is inspired by bold, high-octane colours to establish a brightness that appeals to younger employees, particularly millennials.

However, it should be noted that there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to design, and the effects of one colour over another are not universal for all people or all spaces.

Design and distinguish

To make the most of workplace design, it is important to create ‘zones’ that meet the various needs of employees and the demands of the various tasks they do throughout the day. For example, a space designed for concentration and solo working should look different to a space in which collaboration and creativity are required. The modular flooring manufacturer Interface makes it easy to create these distinct areas by offering a huge variety of colourways. One of its latest carpet tile collections, Multichrome, features bold colourways, futuristic textures and intricate weave structures and can be used to differentiate between one space and another. By aligning colour psychology with design trends like Hygge and Gluggadedur, and creating distinct work zones, companies can create flexible and productive environments while giving employees the freedom to choose where and how they work best. As the ways in which we engage with work continue to evolve, so too will the design of workspaces. Focusing on workplace designs that enhance wellbeing and increase performance deliver win-win situations for both employers and employees.

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