Colour in Commercial and Retail Interiors
Architects and Property Managers are adept at attracting customers or clients into a building through the design of the exterior and this is achieved partly by choosing appropriate colour on window frames and signage. Once inside the building, colour continues to play a crucial part in effecting the people within that environment, whether they are there to work or to purchase goods or services. Designers are continually thinking of new ways of injecting colour into interiors, so it is not just walls and ceilings that are considered. Office furniture, window frames and lift doors can all be coated easily.
When selecting colour for an interior, it is imperative to think about the group of people you are trying to appeal to and remember that the meaning of colour and its influence is also about its context. Consequently, it is important to consider whether the consumer group you are trying to capture are trendy or traditional as well as thinking about age brackets, marital status and gender.
There is some evidence to suggest that women prefer warm colours and that men favour cool tones. Warm hues are situated in the red area of the colour wheel and include pink, orange and yellow. These colours appear to advance and give the impression of rooms seeming smaller and more intimate, so they are perfect for large spaces.
Alternatively, cool colours have the effect of making a room seem larger as they appear to recede. Hues with cool undertones include green, blues, blue-greens and purples and they inevitably make a room seem colder, so they are best used in sunny spaces and avoided where there is little natural light. A chilly feeling can be prevented by choosing blues with warm or muted tones.
Blue is a particularly good choice for a stressful office environment because of its relaxing, soothing and calming influence. It will also help your workforce focus, therefore improving productivity. Even though blues often induce feelings of calm, they can also trigger feelings of unhappiness or indifference, especially darker blues. These effects on mood and behaviour may be short lived though as evidence suggests that the effects of colours attenuate over time.
Moving further along the warmer spectrum would be advisable for retail environments because it is thought that lilac promotes uninhibited spending practices, but it is worth remembering that consumer preferences are not always consistent with their behaviour. In 1951, Louis Cheskin’s ‘Colour for Profit’ posited ground-breaking ideas regarding the use of design to sell products. The first assumption shown to be untrue was that what a customer says and what they do in terms of their buying behaviour differs enormously.
In studies, consumers state a preference for shops displaying cool colours, but physically gravitated towards warm colours. This means that if you want to attract spontaneous customers buying unplanned goods or services then warm colours could do the trick. This aspect of colour psychology is particularly relevant in picking up passing trade such as in shopping centres or on the high street.
On the other hand, for those purchases involving planning then cool colours are conducive to deliberation.
It is not just the colour chosen for the interior that is significant, lighting plays a large part in how an interior is perceived and consequently its effect on purchasing behaviour. The negative influence orange had on buying propensity was reduced when soft lighting was used which emphasises the interaction between the colour of a shop and its lighting.
Of course, lighting is extremely important in any interior and can soften harsh colours, but colour can also counteract the negative effects of natural light. For example, because yellow reflects light well, it is an ideal choice for ceilings in rooms with low lighting. However, bright yellow can lead to tiredness and anxiety if people are subjected to it for long periods of time, so the calming influences of softer yellows are recommended here. This highlights the importance of the function of any interior. The building may be an office where colleagues share space for the whole day in which case a garish mix of colours may irritate people over a long period of time, but this could work well for youngsters. Children favour primary colours, so these are good choices for a crèche or primary school, but they won’t necessarily work well for the adults working there, so are best combined with warm hues and natural fibres.
Your colour scheme should also be consistent with the type of service you provide and should also reflect the ambiance you wish to portray. A builder’s merchants will need a different look and feel from a coffee shop especially since different colour schemes can enable people to differentiate between services very quickly. All the colours used in any food outlet should be thought through. Research carried out by Alcaide et al in 2012 found that how food tastes is partly influenced by colour. It seems it is not just the actual colour of the food itself, but also the colour of everything in the eater’s field of vision that can affect palatability. This is because within the arena of visual ergonomics, colour dictates how an architectural environment is perceived and the effects of colour are symbolic, associative and can trigger a spontaneous emotional response.