“While the impact of colour is often overlooked, colour is an inseparable part of our everyday lives”.
This statement is no exception to the design of the rooms in schools, colleges and universities. Although the use of colour is paramount in the interior design process, the idea of the mental effects of certain colours is often missed. Unknowingly, the colours in an educational environment may have an effect on pupils and students and their performance and engagement. Studies have shown that the choice is often limited due to the focus on functionality and practicality of the furniture rather than the advantages of colour usage.
So what colours are recommended as the “best choice” and where?
The main recommendation when using colour in the class or seminar rooms is ensuring that there is not an element of “over-stimulation”. Too many bright colours, such as red and orange, can cause the mind to be too engaged and can often cause stress and anxiety if too over-powering in an environment where concentration is needed. It is recommended that although the engagement is necessary, the striking colours should be balanced out with “cooler, calming colours” such as blue and green. An example that is often used in schools is the colour green on the front wall where the teacher stands. “Green encourages focus and stimulation” so will be an ideal colour to incorporate in an area where focus is needed. It is suggested that this is also the main reason why chalkboards are often green.
Dark blue is often recommended in classrooms as the colour emphasises the feeling of “loyalty” and would be perfect in areas where “deep thinking” is a necessity. Another colour that is a favourite is a shade of lighter blue to encourage a “feeling of calm”, which is ideal for areas where there is a lot of pressure. Rooms where exams are held are often appealing, when decorated in a light blue or green colour, to allow for an element of comfort and calm also without losing deep concentration.
In other faculties, the brighter colours are encouraged. For example in Expressive Arts lessons, colours such as yellow are highly suggested. The main reason for this is due to the colour encouraging “feelings of liveliness, energy, happiness and excitement”. Red, expressing demand, is also a colour that is encouraged in these lessons but only as “accent colours”. The best way to incorporate striking colours like these is through the use of bright coloured fabric seating and possibly even cushions or oversized bean bags, creating an element of fun.
Libraries are often associated as being a “multi-purpose environment”. There are many colour options that can be used in several areas of the library space. It is regularly commended to “experiment with colour” in these areas. The use of colour will allow you to create your own desired effect and purpose that you would like the library to have. Although free rein is granted for colour choice within the library, it is important that the colours are carefully selected to avoid over-stimulation.
For reading areas, where inspiration is key, colours such as blue and green are highly recommended. Areas where learners are able to converse and “lounge” are recommended to be decorated with brighter colours, such as orange and yellow, to uplift the mood and motivate conversation and discussion. The best technique to use would be having a neutral colour wall with bright coloured furniture. The colours in small quantities allow for little outbursts of inspiration and creativity rather than allowing the mind to get carried away.
Corridors, dining and reception areas are more successful when there are elements of brighter colours scattered around. Splashes of bright colours are energetic and welcoming. The use of colour is limitless in these areas, but again it is important not to go too crazy!
The corridors leading to the next class or seminar room, should reflect excitement and fun. The colours chosen could stimulate happiness in the mind for the students as they go to their next lesson. However if too many bright colours such as orange are present, this will encourage conversation which will in turn distract the students and cause them to be late for their lessons! I wish I thought about that when I was at school, I was notorious for tardiness!
Karen Walstra has explained that the best colour to use in these areas is yellow:
“Yellow helps to release a chemical in the brain called Serotonin, essential for causing a happy mood”
These suggestions are also valid for the use of colour in the dining areas of schools and colleges. An area where happiness and relaxation are important, the dining hall is also a great area for conversation and interaction with others. A bright environment will increase happiness and motivation, in turn allowing students to unwind and relax for a little while with their friends.
The reception area is a great space within schools to show off the school colours. Using the colours of the walls and the furniture, the use of the school colours will show off school spirit and is a great welcome for the school staff, students and visitors. Having the “school spirit” emphasised at the entrance, sets the students up, ready for a day of learning with school pride!
Using the colours in school, colleges and universities allows you to create an education facility as “your own”, which keeps the students motivation and mood levels in mind. Creating an effect that is going to stimulate the students’ minds the most ensures they are able to learn to their highest potential and be happy whilst doing so. Colour has a fantastic effect psychologically and comes with limitless potential! Just make sure you don’t go overboard and ensure that there is plenty of balance to cater to everyone’s individual mind processes. The use of colourful furniture that is a great technique to achieve the balanced effects. So don’t worry too much about buying 20 tins of different colour paints, just remember that less is sometimes more and don’t go too crazy!