Lighting and colour can have a significant impact on your concentration and productivity. The selection and design of both is something that should happen as part of an overall space planning process.

To create a lighting and colour plan, consider what, where, and when activities take place. Lighting needs to vary its intensity to accommodate multiple activities that occur in a single room. Colour subconsciously influences emotions on a deep level, and studies have connected positive emotional states to improved decision making, better memory function, greater job satisfaction, and creative problem solving.

Professional Lighting Design

There are three kinds of illumination: general lighting, task lighting, and accent lighting. When you mix the three you get decorative lighting.

Decorative lighting creates mood and meaning. A decorative lighting scheme has variation in light levels and sources that show what rooms are for or what a room’s focal point is.

General lighting illuminates an entire space for visibility and safety (the flat ceiling lights in an office). This kind of light bounces off walls and ceilings and covers as much area as possible.

Most light fixtures that accomplish this are up-lights (torchiers, sconces, and chandeliers) and down-lights (recessed lights (cans), track lights, and pendants). Some lights, such as table and floor lamps, are both up- and down-lights because they cast light toward both the ceiling and the floor.

Task, or work, lighting focuses on smaller areas where more intense light is needed. Up- and down-lights are also used and should be three times as bright as general lighting. Good task lighting fixture choices are well-positioned can lights, track lighting, pendants, table or floor lamps, and under-cabinet lighting strips.

Professional Colour Design

The human eye sees different colours based on the amount of light each colour absorbs or reflects. When designing a space, you really need to know what the lighting is going to be in order to ensure the intended colours will react properly. Once the proper lighting design is in place the colour planning can begin.

Colour temperature is the amount of white light. The lack of white light equals a warmer colour and the addition of white light equals a cooler colour.

White has the effect of expanding a room, whereas dark colours, like black, compress a room. Painting a ceiling black will lower it, whereas, painting it white will give the impression of a higher ceiling. According to research, white is good to psychologically inhibit people from touching something. Too much white or black, however, can be disconcerting and distracting. Floors that are all white or all black can give the sensation there is no floor there at all. Research has also shown, certain tasks, such as proofreading and editing, are better performed in a colourful room rather than a white one.

There are a number of rules for using colour in various combinations known as colour schemes. Based on the desired outcome, each one contributes to different emotional experiences and optical effects.

The colour red is one that should be used in small amounts, usually to bring energy to a space. It also has the effect of enclosing a space making you feel like the wall is coming at you. You shouldn’t use red in a space where you want people to do detailed tasks.

Orange is warm and also brings the walls towards you. It must be used carefully because it doesn’t always work well with people’s complexions.

Conversely, green is one of the most restful colours for the human eye. Imitating natural colours using lots of cool tones like greens, blues, and yellows produce calming effects, which is why healthcare environments and labs use them quite often.

Correct lighting and colour designs have been found to decrease depression and improve mood, energy, alertness, and productivity. It’s a matter of knowing when, where, and how to use colour and light correctly for the right emotional effect.

Office Interior Design Professionals

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