Designing for Inclusion - Focus on Color

Color is a powerful communication tool and can influence mood and impact performance. But exposure to color can also have a physical impact on us. Certain colors have been associated with increased blood pressure, increased metabolism, and eyestrain. Color can have symbolic meaning in various cultures, but the way color impacts us tends to be universal.

Blue 
is seen as the color of authority; it is a nature appetite suppressant; it can calm us down and help with analytical thinking. But if there is too much of it without the relief of white it can make people feel “blue”, sad, or depressed.

Yellow 
encourages positive thinking, heals the nervous system, relieves depression, and helps to treat unresolved feelings. It can be seen as a warning color. It makes us feel energized, warm, and is good for creative thinking.

Red
is a warming color and, as a stimulator, increases the heart rate, brain wave activity, and respiration. It is energizing and encourages confidence and courage. It increases our appetite, our circulation, and can make us feel more aggressive or agitated if in our view for too long.

Green
reminds us of nature and make us feel more relaxed. Green is very calming, relieves stress and creates a tranquil environment.

Orange
can be mentally stimulating but is also seen as a social-economic neutralizer. Orange is used to alleviate fatigue, treat depression, helps to assimilate new ideas, and removes repression and inhibitions. It increases IQ when used in classrooms. It can make us feel enthusiastic and increase our energy levels if not overdone.

Pink & Lavendar
can be very soothing. Pink has a tranquilizing effect on aggressive behavior and is used to treat anxiety and withdrawal symptoms. They can also be emasculating and reduce aggression.

Violet
creates a peaceful environmentand is used to treat insomnia & compulsive behavior.

Brown
is seen as a neutral color but can give us a sense of reliability and strength. Brown is associated with resilience, dependability, security, and safety. It too reminds us of nature and can make us feel more genuine and relaxed.

To read more about designing inclusive spaces, please refer to our Living Well at Work Guide, Module 2, available here.

Shared with permission. This information was written by Kay Sargent, Director of Workplace at HOK and INDEAL Cares’ Wellness Committee member. This article was published in WorkDesign magazine. Read the complete article here.