Use the power of productive colours in office design (+checklist)

5 steps to leverage colour psychology (and what colours to use)

Explore the power of colour psychology in interior design, where strategic hues can reshape spaces, shift moods and boost productivity. Beyond aesthetics, colours act as subtle motivators and mood enhancers in offices and hospitality alike, influencing emotions and well-being. From serene blues to energising oranges, discover how the right palette can inspire creativity in the workplace and comfort in hospitality settings.

Join us on a journey to harness colour psychology, whether you’re revamping a business space or indulging in colour’s transformative quality.

Photography by Escandi, Bolon, Montana, Muuto and Fritz Hansen


It’s all about perception, where colours lead and emotions follow.

Understanding colour psychology

Dive into the kaleidoscopic world of colour psychology, where each hue whispers secrets about our emotions and behaviours. It’s like having a silent conversation with the spaces around us, where colours can shout, “Get excited!” or whisper, “Relax, you’re home”. But how does this fascinating chatter translate into the language of interior design, especially in the realms of work and hospitality? This is one of the most intriguing challenges we at Escandi face daily.

At its heart, colour psychology is about the symbiotic relationship between colours and our minds. It’s all about perception, where colours lead and emotions follow. Imagine walking into an office bathed in soft greens and blues, colours that murmur soothingly of calm and focus, versus one that’s a riot of reds and oranges, where the walls seem to pulse with energy and dynamism.

But here’s where it gets intriguing – our reaction to colours isn’t just a matter of personal taste. It’s deeply rooted in psychological principles. Colours like blue are not just pretty; they’re productivity powerhouses, known for their ability to enhance concentration. Green, with its echoes of nature, brings a sense of balance and renewal. And then there’s yellow, the hue of happiness, sparking creativity and brightening moods.

Yet, colour psychology isn’t a one-size-fits-all. Cultural nuances and personal experiences mean that a colour evoking joy in one person might stir different feelings in another. This rich tapestry of perceptions is what makes using colour in design both a challenge and a delight.

So, remember: choosing colours for your workspace or hospitality venture isn’t just about aesthetics. It’s about crafting an emotional and psychological landscape that resonates with the very soul of your space. Let’s paint that picture together, shall we?

Blue in interiors

∙ Promotes productivity and calm, often used in office environments to enhance focus and reduce stress.

∙ Evokes a sense of trust and stability, making it a preferred choice for professional and financial institutions.

∙ Can feel cold or impersonal if not balanced properly, especially in large, open spaces.

∙ Fosters a sense of tranquillity, beneficial for guest rooms in hotels to encourage relaxation.

∙ Varies in shade impact, with lighter blues soothing and darker blues more authoritative and strong.

Imagine transforming mundane office spaces into hubs of creativity and efficiency, simply by painting them in the right colours.

Colour psychology in the workplace

Step into the world of colour psychology in the workplace, where every shade is a strategic player in the game of productivity and well-being. Imagine transforming mundane office spaces into hubs of creativity and efficiency, simply by painting them in the right colours. Yes, it’s possible, and it’s the magic of colour psychology in the workplace at play!

When it comes to setting the right tone for productivity, not all colours are created equal. Blues and greens, for instance, aren’t just pleasing to the eye; they’re like a deep breath for the mind, promoting focus and calmness. They whisper of deadlines met with zen-like calm, of stress melting away as easily as tea dissolves in hot water. These are the colours that turn the concept of Monday blues on its head, making every start to the week something to look forward to.

But it’s not just about soothing blues and rejuvenating greens. Need a dash of creativity? Splash some yellow around. It’s like sunshine indoors, sparking innovation and bright ideas. And for areas where communication is key, such as meeting rooms, consider the warmth of orange – a colour that encourages conversation and collaboration, making brainstorming sessions feel lighter and brighter.

However, a word of caution: colour psychology in the workplace is a powerful tool, but with great power comes great responsibility. The key is balance. An overdose of any colour can turn its benefits into drawbacks. So, it’s about mixing and matching, creating spaces that are not only visually appealing but also psychologically uplifting.

As we delve deeper into colour psychology in the workplace, remember, it’s not just about painting walls; it’s about creating environments where productivity blossoms, creativity flourishes and where we want employees to find their happy place.

Yellow in interiors

∙ Stimulates creativity and optimism, ideal for creative studios, design spaces and playful hospitality settings.

∙ Brightens spaces effectively, offering a warm and welcoming ambiance but can be visually tiring in large amounts.

∙ Enhances communication and collaboration, suitable for meeting rooms and communal areas.

∙ Can be challenging to integrate into relaxing areas, as its vibrancy may be too stimulating for spaces meant for rest.

∙ Varies in psychological impact, with softer yellows comforting and neon shades potentially causing unease.

It’s a realm where colours welcome guests into spaces that speak of comfort, luxury and delight.

Colour psychology in hospitality

In the world of colour psychology in hospitality, every hue is a key ingredient in the recipe for creating unforgettable guest experiences. It’s a realm where colours welcome guests into spaces that speak of comfort, luxury and delight. This is the art of using colour psychology in hospitality to craft atmospheres that guests see and feel, making their stay memorable from the moment they step in.

Imagine entering a hotel lobby where soft, earthy tones immediately embrace you, whisking away the travel fatigue and replacing it with a sense of calm and belonging. These colours aren’t chosen at random; they’re deliberately selected to evoke feelings of warmth and security, making the lobby not just a space you pass through but a part of your journey to relaxation.

In dining areas, the magic of colour psychology in hospitality plays with your palate even before the first bite. Warm reds and oranges are appetisers in their own right, stimulating hunger and enhancing the dining experience.

But the real secret lies in the balance and harmony of colours. Just as in a perfectly mixed cocktail, we always make sure that every shade in a hospitality space complements the others, creating an environment that’s both inviting and immersive. It’s about using colour psychology in hospitality to tell a story, one that guests become a part of, leaving them with a longing to return even before they’ve departed.

As we explore the nuances of colour psychology in hospitality, remember, it’s not just about aesthetics, but rather about creating experiences that linger in the mind long after the colours have faded from sight.

Red in interiors

∙ Boosts energy and excitement, making it ideal for dynamic areas in workplaces or lively parts of restaurants and hotels.

∙ Attracts attention effectively, useful for promotional spots in hospitality or accentuating key areas in corporate settings.

∙ Stimulates appetite, commonly utilised in dining environments to encourage guests to eat more.

∙ Can be overwhelming if overused, potentially leading to feelings of agitation, particularly in spaces meant for relaxation.

∙ Cultural and psychological impact, with varying meanings across cultures and a strong influence on mood and behaviour, such as creating a sense of urgency or highlighting important features.

Escandi Web Manuals Malmö Sweden

Evaluating your space is like getting acquainted with a new friend – you need to understand its personality, quirks and what makes it tick.

01. Evaluate your space

Before you dive into the colour palette, it’s essential to take a step back and really get to know your canvas. Evaluating your space is like getting acquainted with a new friend – you need to understand its personality, quirks and what makes it tick. It’s about feeling the pulse of the space and envisioning how it interacts with its inhabitants.

Physical Assessment

Grab your tape measure and notepad, and embark on a detailed exploration of your space. Note the dimensions, but go beyond the basics – observe the natural flow and how people move within it. Are there areas where daylight bathes the room in a warm glow, or corners where shadows linger? These nuances are your secret ingredients for later.

Lighting Consideration

Lighting is the space’s mood ring, revealing its true colours at different times. Spend a day, if you can, watching how the space changes with the light. Morning light might turn a corner into a sanctuary of calm, while the same spot could awaken to vibrancy under the afternoon sun. This natural performance is crucial; it tells you how colours will truly look and feel. Don’t forget artificial lighting, as it will take the stage when the sun bows out. Balancing natural and artificial light in your evaluation ensures that your chosen colours will perform beautifully around the clock, creating the perfect backdrop for every moment. Armed with this knowledge, you’re not just choosing colours; you’re tailoring a colour scheme that complements the space’s unique personality, ensuring it looks its best in every light and situation.

Pink in interiors

∙ Softens environments and reduces aggression, making spaces feel more approachable and less formal.

∙ Encourages warmth and empathy, suitable for care-related industries and spaces promoting open communication.

∙ Can be perceived as less serious if overused, challenging to incorporate in traditional corporate environments without diluting professionalism.

∙ Promotes a sense of care and comfort, excellent for hospitality settings aiming for a cosy, nurturing atmosphere.

∙ Trend-sensitive, with variations like millennial pink having moments of popularity in modern design.

Is your brand bold and energetic, or serene and trustworthy?

02. Build your colour scheme

Now that you’ve acquainted yourself with the space, it’s time to dress it in colours that not only beautify but also speak volumes about your brand’s identity. This step is where creativity meets strategy, blending the art of colour selection with the science of brand psychology to create a space that tells your story at a glance.

Brand cohesion

First, consider your brand’s heart and soul – its values, mission and the emotions you wish to evoke in your audience. Is your brand bold and energetic, or serene and trustworthy? Your colours need to reflect this. Dive into your brand’s palette and pick hues that resonate with its essence.

Base colour selection

Choosing your base colour is akin to choosing the lead actor in your play – the star that will carry the theme and set the tone for the entire space. This colour should dominate yet not overpower, providing a backdrop that complements the space’s function and enhances the desired psychological effects. Whether it’s a calming blue for concentration in an office or a welcoming terracotta in a hotel lobby, ensure it aligns with your brand and the ambiance you aim to create.

Complementary and accent colours

With your leading hue in place, it’s time to select the supporting cast – complementary and accent colours that enrich and balance your scheme. Utilise a colour wheel to identify harmonious matches that bring out the best in your base colour. These secondary shades can highlight architectural features, direct attention to key areas, or add depth and interest to the space. Remember, the goal is to create a cohesive and immersive experience that feels intentional and curated, not accidental.

Green in interiors

∙ Encourages balance and rejuvenation, reflecting nature and promoting a serene work environment or hospitality setting.

∙ Supports wellness and health, often found in spas, healthcare environments and areas dedicated to well-being.

∙ Can energise or relax depending on the shade, with brighter greens energising and softer greens calming.

∙ Symbolises growth and renewal, aligning with brands focused on sustainability and natural products.

∙ Needs careful pairing to avoid feeling outdated, especially true for certain shades that may feel more traditional.

This is where imagination meets the eye …

03. Create a mood board

Once you have your base and complementary colours in mind, it’s time to bring your vision to life with a mood board. This is where imagination meets the eye, allowing you to experiment with and refine your colour scheme before making any commitments.

Gather fabric swatches, paint chips, and samples of flooring or upholstery materials that align with your chosen colours. Place them alongside images that inspire you or reflect the mood you’re aiming to create. This tangible collage becomes a playground for your creativity, enabling you to mix, match and adjust elements until you find the perfect balance.

Orange in interiors

∙ Fosters social interaction and enthusiasm, vibrant and inviting for collaborative spaces and casual dining areas.

∙ Stimulates appetite and conversation, similar to red but with a more casual, friendly vibe.

∙ Can be too intense for focused work areas, better suited for breakout spaces or creative brainstorming areas.

∙ Warmth and energy, ideal for accent walls or decor but may overwhelm if used extensively.

∙ Balances creativity and comfort, when used in moderation, can evoke a sense of adventure without sacrificing warmth.

This prototype serves as a tangible example of your colour scheme in action …

04. Apply, test and refine your colour scheme

This essential phase is where your colour scheme moves from concept to reality, enabling you to assess its true impact in the physical space and make necessary adjustments based on real-world interactions and feedback.

Sectional prototypes

Select a manageable portion of your space to serve as a prototype area. This could involve painting a feature wall, introducing fabric swatches or arranging furniture and decor items that reflect your intended design. This prototype serves as a tangible example of your colour scheme in action, allowing you to evaluate its overall effect on the space’s atmosphere and functionality.

Observing and gathering feedback

With your prototype in place, observe how the colours interact with each other, the lighting, and the room’s architectural features. Notice the emotional and psychological effects they have on you and others who use the space. Actively seek out feedback from a broad range of individuals who interact with the prototype area. Encourage honest opinions on the colour scheme’s aesthetic appeal, emotional resonance and any suggestions for improvement.

Refining your design

Use the insights gathered from your observations and the feedback received to refine your colour scheme. This might involve adjusting shades, introducing new accent colours or changing the distribution of colours throughout the space to better achieve your desired outcomes.

Sand in interiors

∙ Creates a warm and inviting atmosphere, making it ideal for both workplaces seeking a calm, neutral environment and hospitality settings aiming for a cosy feel.

∙ Serves as a versatile background, allowing for flexibility in accent colours and decor changes without clashing.

∙ Enhances the perception of spaciousness, helping smaller spaces feel larger and more open.

∙ Can be seen as too conventional or safe, potentially lacking the vibrancy or dynamic feel of more saturated colours.

∙ Pairs well with natural materials, complementing wood, stone and metal to promote a connection with nature and a sense of tranquillity.

Escandi Erik Olsson Malmö Sweden

Yet, even after the paint has dried, the process of creating an impactful space continues through ongoing observation and adaptation.

05. Implement, monitor and adapt

Having refined your colour scheme through hands-on application and insightful feedback, the final step is to confidently implement your vision across the entire space. This stage marks the culmination of your creative journey, transforming the environment to reflect your carefully crafted design. Yet, even after the paint has dried, the process of creating an impactful space continues through ongoing observation and adaptation.

Full-scale implementation

Armed with a thoroughly tested and refined colour scheme, proceed to apply it throughout the space. Whether it’s a workplace setting or a hospitality environment, ensure that every element – from walls to furnishings – coherently embodies your chosen colours and textures. This cohesive application is critical in achieving the psychological and aesthetic goals you set out to accomplish.

Continuous monitoring

With your design brought to life, adopt the role of an attentive observer. Pay close attention to how the space is used and how individuals interact with it. Notice the flow of movement, the points of engagement and the overall mood. Are there areas where the colour scheme excels in enhancing the environment? Are there spots where it falls short? This ongoing evaluation is key to understanding the living impact of your design choices.

Being open to adaptation

The true beauty of an interior space lies in its ability to evolve. As you gather more insights from your continuous monitoring, be prepared to adapt your design to meet changing needs, preferences or functionalities. This might mean adjusting colour tones, switching out accent pieces or even rethinking the use of space based on new observations or feedback.

Purple in interiors

∙ Conveys luxury and creativity, often associated with sophistication and depth, suitable for high-end hospitality and creative sectors.

∙ Stimulates imagination, making it a good choice for design studios and innovative workspaces.

∙ Can feel overpowering if used in large areas, best utilised as an accent colour or in lighter shades for a calming effect.

∙ Versatility in shades, with deeper purples suggesting luxury and lighter lavenders promoting relaxation and wellness.

∙ Historically royal connotations, adding a touch of elegance and exclusivity to spaces.

The checklist

Before we move on to our checklist for using productive colours in interior design, let’s briefly revisit our journey through colour psychology. We’ve explored how strategic colour choices can enhance mood and productivity in workspaces, from the calming effects of blues to the energising qualities of oranges. Understanding how colours affect our emotions and behaviours is key to creating an environment that fosters creativity and efficiency.

With insights into the science behind colour psychology, we’re equipped to guide you in selecting the right hues to transform your office into a vibrant and productive space. Now, let’s proceed with our tailored checklist to optimise your workspace with the power of colour.

01. Evaluate your space
Conduct a physical assessment – measure and observe the space’s layout, natural flow and how people interact within it.
Consider lighting – spend time understanding how both natural and artificial light affect the space throughout the day.
02. Build your colour scheme
Brand cohesion – align your colour choices with your brand’s identity, mission and the emotions you wish to evoke.
Base colour selection – choose a dominant colour that sets the desired tone and complements the space’s function.
Complementary and accent colours – use a colour wheel to identify harmonious matches that enhance your base colour.
03. Create a mood board
Gather materials – collect fabric swatches, paint chips and samples of flooring or upholstery that match your chosen colours.
Visualise the scheme – arrange these elements with images that inspire you or reflect the mood you aim to create, allowing for experimentation and adjustment.
04. Apply, test, and refine your colour scheme
Implement sectional prototypes – select a portion of your space to apply your colour scheme and observe how it interacts with the environment.
Gather feedback – actively seek out opinions on the colour scheme’s aesthetic appeal and emotional resonance from a broad range of individuals.
Refine your design – adjust shades, introduce new colours or alter the distribution of colours based on feedback and observations.
05. Implement, monitor and adapt
Full-scale implementation – apply your refined colour scheme throughout the space, ensuring every element embodies your chosen colours coherently.
Continuous monitoring – observe how the space is used and how individuals react to the design, noting areas of success and those needing improvement.
Be open to adaptation – be prepared to adjust your design to meet changing needs, preferences, or functionalities based on ongoing observations and feedback.

Eager to enhance your office with productive colours? Escandi is on hand to bring your vision to life. We specialise in creating spaces that inspire and energise. Reach out to us at, and let’s transform your office into a hub of creativity and productivity.