If you are spending most of your working days in the home office at the moment, you’ve probably already tried many things to improve your productivity or well being. Whereas you can find numerous articles on ideas about how to stay focused or how to organize your home office, not much has been written yet about the use of color.
We asked the interior designer Boris Bandyopadhyay, who is an expert in creating moods with color in work environments, to tell us how color can help you to improve your home office experience.
Many people reach out to me these days, asking for advice about their home office. On the one hand, they enjoy the familiarity and the informal atmosphere of being home, on the other hand, it’s quite challenging for them to combine all the family and working life on a couple of square meters. The architecture of most apartments just isn’t designed to serve all these needs at the same time. Whereas you can’t change the architecture, you are more flexible to change the interior design. For me, the easiest and also most effective way how to improve the home office environment is to use color more consciously.
This is something we often tend to forget when furnishing our working spaces. We are either focused on the technical aspects of the things which surround us. For example, when you buy a new external monitor for your home office desk, the size and the price are usually the most critical factors for you. Or we are not able to zoom out from our own experiences. It’s much easier to keep familiar ways of use of things or to enhance the existing setting than to think of something more or less radically different. In both cases, the color plays just a supporting role, if any. But the color indeed does work!
1. Color induces emotions & operates our mood
We have colors for everything and so for each ritual. Our favorite soccer team, for example, or Eastern, Christmas, Halloween, Diwali, or whatever has formed a colorful trigger in our cultural or even our very personal memory. If those colors show up, they evoke memories that are bound to specific feelings. The feelings are connected to our mood, and finally, color addresses moods, which arises when a colorful trigger is pulled.
2. Color controls behavior
Some colors have cross-cultural meanings. Red, for example, marks danger, and green suggests that everything is ok. That’s why, for many of us, red has the power to draw our attention to something or someone, and green makes natural growth and wellbeing. However, did you know that in South America, green is the color of death?
3. Color creates a feeling of space and orientation
Light colors and their tints have the power to enlarge spaces, while darker colors and their tones and shades make spaces more compact or even smaller. It makes a huge difference to ad white, grey, or black to a pure hue when it comes to wall paint. Other perceptions of space due to room colors are enlarging, shortening, narrowing, elongating, broadening, and highlighting spaces. This also guides our orientation in a given space. In short: Colors control spaces. As a color consultant, I usually design those experiences through colors.
4. Color energises us
Colors in the spectrum of wavelengths attached to blue activate our physical and mental system because blue tones indicate that it is daytime. This is not only an evolutionary fact but also the basis of what is now called human-centered light, which tries to reproduce this effect in large scale office environments.
5. Color has a relaxing impact
Yellow, orange, and some warm red tones have a more sleepy connotation for our body because it is associated with sunset and sundown. So these colors have a relaxing effect on our physical and mental system.
To sum up: Color works!
How can you use color to improve your home office experience in just four steps.
1. Draw a weekly schedule on a piece of paper.
Monday to Friday if you are optimistic about you ruling your home office, or Monday to Sunday if you are more realistic about the home office ruling you.
2. Imagine your working week. Now try to assign a certain mood to each weekday.
Mood expresses the way you feel at a particular time. Even if you don’t have a fixed weekly working schedule and your mood changes during one day, try to pick one mood per day from the following list of moods. You can repeatedly choose one mood.
List of moods:
- All beginnings are difficult
- Back in the game
- No stress, please
- Don’t disturb me now
- I need a refreshing
- Little time left but I try to handle it
- Yay, the weekend is near
- Let’s have a break in the sun
- My agenda drives me crazy, but…
- Need something to cheer me up
- I want something to cheer me up
- I can see the end of the tunnel
3. Assign a color to each mood according to following Color-Mood-Cards
4. Implement and improve!
The implementation doesn’t need creative superpowers. Here are some easy to implement examples for you:
- Put clothes in the corresponding color on.
- Set a screen saver or a desktop background image to match the color in your digital environment.
- Make handwritten notes with a fountain pen. Find your favorite fountain pen inks in a suitable color!
- Arrange a bowl with colorful fruits and vegetables. Use their colors to create set a …. Put for e.g. 3-5 lemons in the bowl for a yellow “Let’s have a break in the sun“ mood! You can elaborate on this further and create a live mood board with lemons, apples, walnuts, and other veggies like the Italian painter Guiseppe Arcimboldo using colors of veggies to model a head in a portrait.
- Get a picture, a photo, or choose a book cover with a color theme you like.
- Enjoy the color of your favorite cappuccino style for a perfect “No stress please“ brown color.
After the week has passed, think of what did you like about the color moods, and what would you like to change. Make notes and try to adapt and improve the next week.
Share your favorite color-mood-card with your friends!
Boris Bandyopadhyay is a Frankfurt and Berlin-based interior consultant with a passion for the power of colors surfaces and materials. He works on residential, office, and hospitality projects for clients around the globe with a focus on color concepts and inspirational spaces.