using colours to have the desired outcome
The abstract construction of the colour wheel provides a useful way of understanding the effect colours have on each other. The colour wheel represents the spectrum as six distinct bands of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet brought round to join in a circle. Colours that are opposite to one another on the wheel are 'complementary'.
The complementary pairs of red and green, blue and orange, and yellow and violet form the basis for all successful colour schemes. In their pure forms, complementary colours create electric combinations that vibrate with energy. Tonal shades of the same colours - lighter or darker versions - are less stimulating and easier on the eye.
Learning to speak the language of colour can boost productivity in the workplace by improving morale and putting people in the right frame of mind for the task at hand.
Red as a physically stimulating colour is associated with strong feeling: anger, passion, love, excitement and celebration. It also signifies a high degree of alert - the poisonous berry, the stop sign, the splash of blood. Red attracts attention and speeds things up; in the wrong context, red can heighten anxiety and overstimulate.
In the workplace: Red is best for energising environments, such as offices in the fields of banking or entertainment; in bars, restaurants and canteens; wherever rapid turnover is important; and as a welcoming accent in reception areas. It is worst as a dominant colour in waiting areas or confined spaces, such as lifts.
Pink has strong associations with the feminine principle and with nurturing. Delicate, flattering and luxurious in the right context, too much pink can be emasculating, insipid and weakening.
In the workplace: Pink is best for personnel departments, washrooms and consulting rooms. It is worst for masculine environments.
Orange is the first colour babies learn to distinguish and fosters an innate sense of well-being. A warm, sensual colour, it is associated with ripeness, abundance and maturity.
In the workplace: Orange is best for encouraging teamwork and activity; eating areas and communal spaces; improving staff morale. It is worst for areas where focused attention is necessary, such as accounts departments.
Yellow is the colour of optimism and is inherently uplifting, radiating as sunny cheerfulness. Deeper yellows are warm and rich.
In the workplace: Yellow is best for instant uplift in reception areas and corridors; creative studios and sales departments. It is worst for areas intended to convey a sense of authority and sober restraint, such as boardrooms.
Green is healing, soothing and refreshing, the colour of fertility and growth. Because it is the complementary colour to red, it is widely used in operating theatres to provide a restful environment for surgery.
In the workplace: Green is best for waiting areas or where people require reassurance and a calming influence. It is worst for high-energy areas such as creative studios, fast food outlets or anywhere traffic needs to be kept on the move.
Blue signifies mental activity and reason. It is an airy, distancing colour, which enhances the sense of space. At the same time, too much blue can be cold, authoritarian and unfriendly; blue is also associated with moodiness, sorrow and depression.
In the workplace: Blue is best for areas of concentrated study such as libraries and conference room; executive areas; work involving communications, travel or education; areas where efficiency is important, such as accounts departments. It is worst for convivial gathering places such as bars and restaurants.
Purple evokes richness and quality. Deep purple is an imperial shade; wearing purple was once a privilege restricted only to monarchs and the nobility. Lighter shades of violet suggest refinement.
In the workplace: Purple is best for meditative areas and where electronic equipment is employed. It is worst for activities involving teamwork and areas of high physical activity.
Neutrals and naturals Grey is the only true neutral colour. As such, it is the colour of inactivity and hibernation. Pure white, which contains the full spectrum, can be cool, fresh, light or uncompromising, clinical and sterile. Black, the absence of colour, provides graphic definition and edge, sharpening other shades and throwing them into relief.
The subtle colours of wood, stone and earth, ranging from pale cream to deep brown, comprise the natural palette. Natural colours are undemanding, reassuring and full of integrity but can be bland and uninspiring if unrelieved by more positive shades.
In the workplace: Neutrals and naturals are best for creating understated backgrounds as a foil for strong colours. It is worst as the dominant colour scheme.
'Colours are the mother tongue of the subconscious' Jung