The Central Hotel by Undercurrent Studio

Mental health is always an important topic, but with the spotlight on mental health in the month of October, we are keen to highlight the impact of design and colour on our wellbeing.

Asking an old textile man his opinion on colour and design as it affects mental health, is a little unusual. Colour and design are my stock in trade, so of course it’s important.

There is a great deal of empirical evidence that colour has a huge impact on us humans. Textiles and wall covering are a wonderful way to influence built environments.

The Central Hotel wall covering banner
The Central Hotel designed by Undercurrent Studio. Winner of the 2021 Grand Prix New Zealand 35th Dulux Colour Awards. Imagery by Two Bearded Men.

Many reports we receive from healthcare facility operators describe the palpable difference in their guests or residents demeanour, after a soft furnishing refurbishment.

Feeling inadequate to discuss the professional psychological aspect of colour, I called on my psychiatrist neighbour to provide some papers on the topic of colour and its effect on mental health.

ombre sheers
Six residential wings were designed by Caroline Hjorth using colours and patterns found in nature.
Imagery by Ryan Linnegar.

She generously submitted no fewer than 34 extensive studies. There is a lot of research suggesting there is a very strong link! I cite this extract by Chuck Yu and Helena Yoon, speaking at the Korean Society of Colour Studies held on May 29, 2010 in Korea.

“Colour is a visual perceptual property; and plays an important role in the environment within which we live, work and play. It can cause a dramatic effect in changing and improving the aesthetic appeal of particular areas. The building surface affects how the building is perceived, whether colour is used in school classrooms, hospital wards and waiting rooms, children’s play areas, sport and entertainment arena, danger/emergency zones, storage shed in our garden or for marking our space boundary such as in fencing.

Ergoline Commercial Furniture, Jimmy Pike
CCN WA and Defiddes Design utilise colour for way finding for residents and family members.

An Inspirational Uplifting Effect

The colours used in the design decor can affect our perceptions of the environment that surrounds us. The colours chosen in these areas can have an inspirational uplifting effect or conversely, they can create drab unwelcoming situations. Colour is also used to mark our identity in many situations; as in business, a company’s brand or to reflect our own personalities.”

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