By Allison Heape
In 2018, the push for increased wellness in the workplace continued to grow. From Amazon HQ’s 40,000 plants to Samsung’s multiple “garden floors” in San Jose or the great green heart of the Xinhee Design Center, 2018 has seen employers, architects and interior designers striving to create better connections between workers and the outside environment.
The growth of biophilic design in the past year alone has been explosive. The number of projects enrolled in the worldwide WELL Building Standard crossed the 1,000 mark in early October, growing by a whopping 38% in just the past six months. That means more business leaders, alongside commercial developers, believe in the impact that air, water, light, fitness, comfort, and other qualities have on workers.
But, what about color?
Research has drawn strong lines connecting color to mood, focus, and productivity, particularly in the workplace. Gray, beige, and other neutrals can evoke gloom or serenity depending on how they’re used, while sharp reds can heighten anxiety or create a sense of power. Conversely, greens and blues tend to soothe, while yellow can be used to combat boredom and provoke a sense of play.
Blues, greens, and yellows have the data-backed wellness attributes that make them logical, modern office choices, but in our increasingly connected, cluttered world, interior designers can take an even fresher approach that is both invigorating and tranquil.
Picture a dark, serene green.
Colors can be read in many ways and operate in multiple contexts. Florid or functional. Classical or minimalist. Specific and obtuse. Darker, cooler shades of traditional colors like green evoke a fresh, modern and bold space with deep, classical roots. It’s pure millennial mindset; perfect for a generation that has embraced a digital-first lifestyle coupled with a heavy-dose of nostalgia.
In line with that versatility, PPG has chosen Night Watch as the 2019 Color of the Year. In addition to its architectural coatings applications, industrial design applications for the color may include office furniture, textiles, industrial metal accent walls, and machined coated metals.
Night Watch (seen above) provides spaces with the lush feeling of nature-healing or forest bathing at the same time that it allows a space to operate graphically. Night Watch is an evolution of the sense of “enviro-luxury” that many have traditionally associated with greens, now updated to reflect a bolder new world; the poise of a navy blue with a quietly and sustainably rebellious undertone.
As more office layouts are created with the intent to directly enhance employee well-being, choosing what color to paint the walls will move far beyond typical considerations like brand alignment, realigning, instead, with the health of its work force. Biophilic design is here to stay. In the year ahead, designers and architects can appeal to the largest generation in today’s workforce with bold, fresh nature-inspired colors.
Heape, global color styling manager at PPG Industrial Coatings, is a color-focused leader and coatings industry expert with more than 12 years of commercial color experience in paint, print, color forecasting, and consumer trends. Using technical and industry knowledge, she leads a global team of color stylists who identify and create color solutions for a wide range of consumer products with some of the world’s leading brands.