The Most Important Office Decision You’ll Ever Make


(Image: Color wheel by horomon on Flickr)

Color is more influential and more strategic than we ever imagined.


Producing materials and designing the interiors of an office is a big step. This is the place you will spend most of your day. Be honest—most of your year. It is important that employees feel good in that space. It is an environment that they want to come into every day, and a place that feels like it can help them do their best work possible.

Over the last few months, we have shown offices that have engaging interiors to show how offices can be more beneficial to employees and employers. The most graphic examples are those who use color strategically. Companies often choose colors strategically for their marketing materials and business cards, but neglect to think about the color of their offices this way. The mission of a business should be reflected in the place where the organization works.

The Color Affects System is a theory written by Angela Wright in 1984. Wright developed the system over more than five years, through a series of studies on the patterns of color and patterns of human behavior. According to Wright’s theory, blue stimulates the mind opposite red, which stimulates the body; yellow inspires creativity and green diffuses equilibrium. Additionally—and not surprisingly—the saturation and intensity of the color play a role too. Colors that are saturated, usually bright, will stimulate while softer, muted colors will soothe.

The way these colors play out in an office can often dictate the mood. Let’s take our most recent Workplace Wednesday post on the offices of Zazzle. Where you see the most saturated color is on the black desk chairs and cubicle barriers—spaces where employees will be conducting the most active part of their work. Yet, the blue cushioned chairs, while plush and inviting, are also fairly bright so as to welcome active thinking and discussion. In coincidentally, the doors to meeting rooms are yellow and green—to promote creativity and balance among members.