bring­ing calm to a restless world

Daily life is be­com­ing more hec­tic and fast-paced than ever as we strug­gle against or will­ingly em­brace the waves of new tech­nol­ogy vy­ing for our at­ten­tion. Maya Breen hears from Re­sene's Karen War­man on colour trends that chan­nel tran­quil vibes into our

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It would seem the more to­day’s pace of life keeps us work­ing long hours or com­mut­ing fur­ther, the more spa­ces are evolv­ing to help us find that homely at­mos­phere be­yond our own homes, pro­vid­ing us with a sense of calm amongst the mad­ness of mod­ern rou­tines.

Sta­tis­tics show the colours we choose to place around us can in­flu­ence how we think and feel. Re­searchers at Welles­ley Col­lege in the US have linked neu­ral pro­cesses to colour. Another study by the Univer­sity of Bri­tish Columbia found the pres­ence of red colours in­creased ac­cu­racy in par­tic­i­pants’ work, while blue boosted their cre­ativ­ity.

These in­flu­ences from colour are be­ing recog­nised more and more, and not just in the of­fice en­vi­ron­ment, but many dif­fer­ent com­mer­cial spa­ces, such as re­tail out­lets, cafes and restau­rants, fac­to­ries, hos­pi­tals, ho­tels, malls and more.

“The trends are quite dif­fer­ent across the dif­fer­ent in­te­rior spa­ces,” says Re­sene mar­ket­ing man­ager Karen War­man, not­ing places like cafes typ­i­cally ex­em­plify trendier colours, in con­trast to hos­pi­tals and pub­lic wait­ing ar­eas that opt for longer-last­ing colour schemes.

“For ex­am­ple, hospi­tal wait­ing rooms of­ten em­brace the new blues and the new greens, but they are the more time­less colours that will still be fresh and clean in a few years’ time,” she says. “They tend to go for ‘evergreen’ op­tions – the op­tions that are new to­day but

in five years’ time they will still look cur­rent, and they tend to avoid any­thing that’s overly trend-driven be­cause they know that it won’t last."

Colour con­trast is one of the big­gest changes we've seen in colour use, she says. “If you think back to the old days, hos­pi­tals or doc­tors' clin­ics were typ­i­cally white, white and more white. It feels clean, but it also feels very ster­ile, and you don’t know where to look. It feels glary on the eyes and not par­tic­u­larly calm­ing."

Another no­table trend is em­brac­ing dark colours. “Dark greys, dark blues are pop­u­lar and very on-trend and are easy to pair with any­thing,” War­man says. “You can take a dark grey, dress it up or dress it down, make it cool or make it warm, de­pend­ing on what you put with it. Both are re­ally ver­sa­tile dark colours and be­ing used in place of black.”

Blur­ring bound­aries

El­e­ments tra­di­tion­ally found in a home en­vi­ron­ment ap­pear to be ex­pand­ing into pub­lic spa­ces – such as wait­ing rooms – and places that are usu­ally quite ster­ile are in­cor­po­rat­ing colours that bring a sense of peace and tran­quil­ity.

"What we’ve re­ally seen over the last few years is more calm­ing colours come in, like the wa­tery blues and wa­tery greens – the kind of colours you might find in your lounge room at home,” says War­man.

“It’s very sooth­ing, so if you have to sit in a wait­ing room it gives you some­thing nice to look at, but you feel like you’re wait­ing at some­body’s home rather than wait­ing in the doc­tor’s of­fice.”

Com­par­ing present-day of­fices and homes to those 20 years ago, War­man says they are look­ing more and more alike. And by us­ing sim­i­lar ma­te­ri­als to those found in a home, such as the in­creas­ing use of tim­ber fin­ishes, they’re achiev­ing a sim­i­lar feel.

It would seem in a busi­ness’ in­ter­est to make its en­vi­ron­ment feel like an ex­ten­sion of the home to its cus­tomers, as there are ben­e­fits for both par­ties.

“With the age­ing pop­u­la­tion, people are vis­it­ing med­i­cal spa­ces more of­ten than they ever had to in the past,” says War­man. “Be­cause of that, these places are be­com­ing more like spa re­treats, the nat­u­ral tim­bers, the sooth­ing colour com­bi­na­tions – be­cause they want you to feel re­laxed and com­fort­able and they want you to stay.”

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