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The Psychology of Colour in Art

The Psychology of Colour in Art

'Colour is a power which directly influences the soul.'
Wassily Kandinsky

What's your favourite colour? I'm guessing you may not have been asked that since you were a little kid, and while it may seem trivial when you're grown up, research shows that colour can significantly affect our mood and subsequent behaviours. This is why, for creatives such as artists, stylists and interior office designers, colour is a serious business.

The colour of a room may not always be the first thing you notice, but it can influence your mood with subtle shifts towards peace and calm or assertion and focus. This is especially important if you spend a lot of time in a space, such as an office or communal workspace.

Interior office designers spend hours choosing the right colours for the right space to help promote and influence a conducive working environment. How often have you walked into a space and thought, Mmm this is nice, it feels really welcoming or relaxing?

Art is the ideal solution to instantly transform the mood of your workplace.

Selecting key pieces of art in the right colour choices will not only influence the mood but can also be used to reflect your company values, brand and culture.

Work Design Magazine has studied this connection between employee engagement and colour through art in the office environment.

'As the return to the office trend continues, it is essential that organizations reinvest in their physical office space, and specifically prioritize collaborative areas that can maximize employee engagement. One of the best ways to do this is by incorporating art into a workplace.

According to a recent report, the vast majority of people see art as a way to create unique, memorable experiences that improve the quality of life for those who use a space. Regardless of the industry, art can create community and a sense of place for those feeling lost or uneasy about returning to the office environment."

This is precisely why, interior office designers are adept at choosing and using artwork to help create a specific vibe or feel in the workplace and while the design is important, the colours are crucial.


Pantone colour of the year 2022
For example, the 2023 Pantone Colour of the Year Viva Magenta 18-1750, vibrates with vim and vigour. Read more


It is a shade rooted in nature descending from the red family and expressive of a new signal of strength. Ideal for a dynamic and innovative business looking to grow, it would be a great colour choice in their offices, especially their reception area and meeting spaces where you'd like to instantly reflect your brand and values.



How does colour affect our mood?

Colour psychologists, such as Angela Wright, have spent their careers studying the impact of colour on our moods, behaviour and actions. They examine how colour influences our emotions and triggers instant judgements about our environment.

According to the study, The Impact of colour on marketing,

  '90% of our snap judgments on products are based on their colour alone!'

Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Let's look at some of the connections between colour and mood.

Certain colours are widely associated with specific feelings and impressions; although this may vary according to different cultures, gender and values, there are some common themes.

When choosing artwork for your office and workspaces, it's a great idea to choose what you like, but also consider your colour options carefully. While you may prefer them to be aligned with your brand, it's crucial that they also inspire and motivate your employees.

Red office art
Red is associated with energy and excitement, BUT too much red can evoke feelings of danger or threat, so it should be considered carefully.
Orange art for offices
Orange is associated with friendliness, fun and positivity.
rent yellow coloured artwork for your office
Yellow with happiness and optimism
green art for your office
Green is often used to promote rest, balance, calm and growth
blue artwork for offices
Blue is associated with peace, stability and harmony. It can also be interpreted as the colour of low mood and depression, "I've got the blues".
artwork that is purple for offices to rent
Purple is most commonly associated with spirituality, mystery and fantasy
black and white artwork for a workplace
Black invokes power, luxury and elegance but can also be the colour linked to death and mourning.
brown art images for offices
Brown is linked to health, nature and strength.
grey artwork montage for office
Grey influences us to think of intellect, modesty and maturity
Colour Montages, Copyright © CESC


What colours work best in the office?

As you can see above, choosing the right colours for the workplace could have a significant impact on the mood and behaviour of your employees and customers. Therefore, understanding the feelings associated with each colour and their combinations will allow you to choose the best palette to influence and support their mood and behaviour.

‘Happiness makes people more productive at work.’ according to the latest research from the University of Warwick. ‘We work harder when happy, using our time more effectively without sacrificing quality.’ 

This means that choosing the right colour in the right space is crucial for promoting a relaxed and happy environment within the workplace, especially as we welcome employees to the office permanently or as part of a hybrid or remote work model.

Depending on the nature of your business, the colour you choose should complement and promote this; for example, a spa environment wants to promote health and cleanliness, so they would choose colours such as whites, greens, and neutrals, whereas a fast-food chain will often use bright, exciting colours such as reds, yellows and oranges.

Transform your workspace with great artwork and a carefully selected colour palette.

When you’re selecting artwork, you can use the same principles. Each piece of art should be considered carefully to reflect your brand and the mood you want to create for each workspace.

According to Work Design Magazine. “Art with impact has to be more than just a decorative afterthought. Rather, art should be chosen intentionally to produce distinct experiences and reflect a company’s brand values.”


Working with an art specialist to find the right colours for your office.

Working with an experienced art rental company, you can take advantage of our expertise and experience to understand the power of art in the office. An integral element of our service is to offer advice and guidance in helping you select the right art for each space.

Let’s take a closer look at different areas of the office and how colour can enhance and improve different environments.

Reception areas. Your reception area is often the first impression and integral to the customer experience. As such, the colour for art is often chosen to reflect the brand and logo colours.

reception art in office
Example of artwork installed in office reception area. Copyright © C Liston

Meeting rooms. The colours chosen for your meeting spaces tend to use more subtle and softer shades. Designers try to strike a balance between stimulation, (as we’ve all been in a boring meeting!) versus not being overly distracting. It’s also advisable to avoid red as this can evoke feelings of anger and aggression. For example, colours such as yellow, orange and green can help to promote harmony and collaboration whereas the pieces your choose for a quiet space should encourage reflection and calm, so consider neutral hues like white, yellow and cream.

artwork with subtle shades for meeting room  meeting room office art
Examples of artwork with softer shades installed in office meeting rooms. Copyright © V Barnes and CESC

Walkways, corridors and open plan areas. These are often areas where there is social interaction and you can support this with bright and warm colours such as tones of yellow and orange.

corridor art in office
artwork in office walkway
Sequences of artwork installed in office corridors. Copyright © H Narielwalla and B Elwell

Training Rooms. These are spaces where energy, engagement and creativity need to be harnessed and inspired and turquoise and purple would make a superb choice for art.

modern perspex artwork for training room
Modern and uplifting perspex artwork installed in a training room

Relaxation areas. Creating calm, relaxed spaces within the office environment has become more than just a trend lately. It’s become essential to support mental health and employee well-being. Whether this is a library, prayer room or communal chill-out space they are great for time-out to rest and recharge. Calming blues and fresh greens and soft lines are ideal for these spaces.

calming art near seating area
Artwork installed in calm seating area. Copyright © P Frith

Kitchen, canteens and other informal employee areas. These types of spaces are often busy with lots of daily interactions and people passing the time so choose warm and welcoming colours like soft reds, oranges and yellows to evoke vitality, comfort, and friendliness.

artwork in staff breakout area

Example of artwork for an informal staff breakout area. Copyright © P Magis

Why buy art for your office, when you can rent?

The only constant in life is change. So why buy art that you’re stuck with forever? If your brand is shifting, your culture evolves and your business expands then your office environment should reflect that too. Art rental is the ideal solution.

GingerWhite provides tools for choosing the right colours for your office designed with ease and accessibility in mind. There are several ways in which we can assist you in choosing the right coloured artwork for your space:

Option 1: You choose your office art. If you know what you like, we can set-up an account for you to browse through our extensive art rental collection. Filter tools allow you to search and narrow down selections by colour, style, size, shape and medium. Within your account, you can create your own wish lists, share them with colleagues and send us your shortlists. We will then review, send you a tailored art rental quote and finalise details with you.

Option 2: We recommend art for your office. Most customers prefer us to suggest artwork ideas suitable for their business type, colour choice and space. You can email us some photos and a description of your needs. Or we can arrange a site visit (free in central London). We can then create a tailored light box for you to view artwork, share with colleagues and choose from.

Option 3: Let your staff vote on your office artwork. Or you can involve your staff in choosing office artwork, using our online staff voting tool. We will set up this tool for you based on a shortlist of your favourite artwork ranges, then process the scores for you and let you know the outcome.

Option 4: A combination of all the above. Sometimes our clients prefer a mix of the above options. We’re flexible in helping you achieve the right office aesthetic for you; using a combination of all the above, you can collate a bespoke art package that perfectly reflects your brand and goals.


We'd love to hear from you - contact us for a chat about your office art project.