The new school year is here and - along with having all the necessary uniforms, books and supplies – it is important to ensure having a productive space in which to study.
Whether it's on campus, in dorms, or in the home, a space to be able to concentrate, work and be creative is essential.
Something that can make an instant difference to a space is the application of colour – from the hue of the walls, the furniture and soft accessories, to the artwork on the walls – it can all have an effect on mood and productivity.
Before looking at how to use colour, lets first think about “what is colour?”.
We see colour when photoreceptor cells in our eyes are stimulated by light wavelengths (or electromagnetic radiation). In humans, the visible spectrum is the portion of the electromagnetic radiation spectrum which is visible to us. This ranges from infrared (longer wavelengths and lower frequency) to ultraviolet (shorter wavelengths and higher frequency), and encompasses varying degrees of what we commonly refer to as the seven colours of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet).
The psychological effects of colour and its ability to elicit a biological response has long been theorised and studied. In 1877 Niels Finsen discovered that light in the ultra-violet wavelength can stop bacteria from growing in humans, and explored how red light could heal wounds and diminish scars.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German poet, who was also keenly involved in studies of natural science, and his book Theory of Colours was published in 1810. In it he linked categories of colours to emotional responses - warm reds, oranges and yellows are said to prompt excitement, happiness, and
creativity, for example.
English Romantic painter J.M.W. Turner was one of many members of the art world who adopted Goethe's theories on colour. His painting Light and Colour (Goethe's Theory) – The Morning after the Deluge – Moses Writing the Book of Genesis depicts “God's Covenant with Man” after the Great Flood, as told in the Book of Genesis, and makes use of primary colours of red, yellow and blue.
He utilises Goethe's theory of the creation of colour being “dependent on the distribution of dark and light reflecting through a transparent object” and each individual colour having its own combination of light and darkness, and therefore infinite variations.
A Webexhibits article about Turner and Delacroix says of the painting, “[Turner] responds to the plus and minus concepts that Goethe created to address both emotions and the eye. His main focus was the after-image that is left on the retina after seeing an image. Through this after-image the plus addresses the colours red and yellow which is intended to evoke buoyant feelings, while the colour blue contrasts such as it creates the emotion of melancholy and desolation.”
Ideal colours for a study area depend on how you wish to work and what you want to achieve. For example, include warm colours like yellow and orange, if performing creative tasks like writing, designing or drawing - as they are said to be stimulating colours, and can help excite and spark inspiration.
This Mustard Yellow Cabinet, and Paddy Blood Orange Cushion are beautifully bold pieces that will add energy to your study. Or this Nikita Citrine Cushion mixes warm yellow with neutral tones, to have a balancing effect and help avoid overstimulation and hyperactivity.
Ginger Nut limited edition print by Aaminah Snowdon would add a quirky and characterful touch to your work space, utilising mood-lifting orange tones which could aid neural function.
For work requiring a high cognitive load, try adding blue to help improve focus – ideal for intellectual and challenging learning situations.
This Blue Velvet Scatter Cushion or Rockpool Peacock Rug will add a cool clarity to your study zone to help sharpen the mind and increase productivity.
Little Horse Study limited edition print by Guy Allen has a uncomplicated look and a neutral theme, punctuated by a striking blue panel – unassuming in its simplicity whilst providing a shot of cool blue for focus.
Adding hints of green could be ideal for projects which require periods of concentration, as it is said to be great for instilling calm and aiding clarity.
Accessories like this Fado Table Lamp, will instantly add a rejuvenating focus to your room. With its associations with nature - and studies showing that green space has a restorative effect on people - even just a 40 second glance could be enough to help boost concentration levels. In a University of Melbourne study, Dr Kate Lee said, “just a moment of looking at a green [space] could provide a boost for tired workers”.
Limited edition print View From the Isle by Heather M Nisbet, would be a wonderful addition to a study area. The image and soothing green colour palette has connotations of 'nature' which can have a revitalising effect and boost mental resolve.
Try pairing complimentary colours (colours which appear on opposite sides of the colour wheel) to benefit from each of their positive effects, and balance the effects of over use of a single colour. For example, over use of orange could lead to feelings of hyperactivity, whilst overuse of blues could result in more sombre feelings and lethargy. Therefore, to harmonise these effects you could combine cool blue furniture with warm orange soft furnishings – orange is a vibrant and energising colour making it ideal for highlighting or using as an 'accent' colour, and to brighten the calming and subduing effect of cool colours like blue.