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Colour in your office

Are you thinking of giving your office a makeover in the near future? Could you use some help in choosing the right colours for your walls? Then be sure to read the advice from Colour Designer Jaklien Van Craen. She is hired by companies to develop colour maps for interiors, packaging, etc. She is also a guest instructor at architectural schools, fashion academies, etc. and she gives courses on colour consulting .

V What do you need to take into account when choosing colours for your office?

A Create a peaceful, pleasant atmosphere but avoid making it resemble a home environment. Only bright colours are also not a good idea, because it can be distracting. Colours that are too gentle on the other hand, can make you feel sleepy.

V What do colours say?

A Every colour contains a history of its own. There's a good reason that Goethe said “every colour has a shadow side”. For example, red is seen as the colour of love, but it can also express aggression. Colours also often pop up in figures of speech: being green with envy, seeing life through rose-coloured glasses or ‘feeling blue’.

V Are there certain colours that should definitely be avoided in a working environment or vice versa?

A A good colour needs to be stimulating enough to create a pleasant working environment. It should reinforce the function of a working environment. In this way, you will want to use different colours for a conference room, meeting area, corporate restaurant, work station, or reception area. I generally prefer a light and neutral colour that is used throughout the entire company that ties it together. Per room I then propose three colours for the employees to choose from. Avoid a very noticeable colour on the wall that employees have to look at all day long. For the office of the director, I usually choose a dark colour on the wall behind the person. That emphasises his or her status. In conference rooms it is a good idea to use a colour that appears in the corporate logo. For the reception area, you can get away with using a warm colour because visitors generally don’t have to stay there for a long time. You should definitely avoid bright colours on walls with a lot of windows. That diminishes the light and restricts the view outside.

V What should you do to make a room appear optically bigger or smaller?

A To make a room look bigger, it's best to use a light, cool, solid colour with a matte finish. For the opposite effect you should choose a dark warm colour, with a pattern, texture or glossy effect. But use caution. If you combine too many elements that make a room look bigger you can quickly create a chilly atmosphere. What matters is simply tipping the balance in one direction or the other. .

V Are there tips that apply specially to a self-employed person working at home?

A The self-employed have to watch out that they don’t create a second living room. It’s better to choose a somewhat cooler or lighter colour. There again it is a question of not creating too much visual stimulation. In smaller office spaces in any case it’s better to work with accents, such as a colourful element on a desk.

V Are certain colours timeless and others more trend-sensitive?

A In general, you could say that light colours or warm greys are timeless, but it can get a bit dull if you use them too much. One thing you can do is add a contemporary touch by choosing one eye-catching colour.

V How can you avoid that a colour looks completely different on your office wall than it did in the shop?

A It’s true, there is always going to be a difference between the colour as it was displayed in the shop and the way it looks once you've painted your office walls. That's why I always recommend buying a tester. You can paint two coats of it on some drawing paper and then hold it up in the light as it would be in your office.

V What colours combine well with certain materials used in office furniture?

A For wood, it’s a good idea to avoid overly warm colours such as yellow, orange or true chocolate brown. Otherwise you start to feel like you are in a box of chocolates. It's better to choose types of green, blue or violet. It's a different situation for aluminium furniture. Then yellow, red or orange can look great.