How Color and Lighting Shape Mood and Productivity in the Office


Together, color and lighting set the mood in all types of rooms — especially in commercial office environments. The color and lighting of a room, including color temperature, hue, and brightness, can shift a person’s mood for better or for worse.

Many offices were designed with neutral colors and fluorescent lighting to prevent distractions in the workplace. However, modern-day offices are breaking away from this way of thinking to boost productivity. Architects and designers are turning office spaces into dynamic interiors that stimulate creativity, teamwork, and productivity all year round.

Read Katherine Guimapang’s piece below to learn how to transform your office into an energizing space employees look forward to visiting.

Editor’s note: The piece below originally appeared on You can also read the piece here.



Innovation Lab in Huizhou, China — Designed by AIM Architects (Photo: Dirk Weiblen)

The office is where the general public will spend 1/3 of their life. Unless you’ve jumped on the “working remotely” craze, many work in office buildings/complexes that haven’t changed since 1999. The common color palette of an office is usually a mixture of neutral tones like beige and subdued grays. Although, with the appearance of trending communal workspaces and open floor office concepts, the general public still identifies office settings to resemble sets seen in The Office or Office Space. However, an office’s color palette and lighting may be more important than you think. Architects and designers are designing offices that not only look better but interact with the senses to evoke happier and more productive staff.

Office Space (1999) [Photo: Twentieth Century Fox]

Cubicle Hallway Image (Photo: Great Beyond) 

Now don’t get me wrong, many companies have given their office spaces a facelift over the years by implementing an assortment of “trending” office interior upgrades. Glass wall dividers, a ping pong table, a vibrant color accent wall, or maybe a vinyl decal of a motivational quote like “work smart not hard.” However, despite these new additions, creating a fresh and functional working environment isn’t always solved with an HGTV inspired interior fix. Despite its good intentions, office interior upgrades often fail to do what is intended in the long run. Instead of creating long-lasting workspaces that provide beneficial interactive elements, these interior treatments merely satisfy superficial elements.

Color theory and its application to interiors are highly effective if executed with intention. For most employers and employees, individuals merely assimilate to space they are in. The relationship between individuals and workspaces resemble a clock in clock out relationship. Here, space is merely a place holder for where one works, but usually, mood and productivity are disregarded. However, companies have been turning their offices into places that foster cutting-edge work while keeping up with new design trends that require more than just a motivational decal. The office has now become an area where architects and designers can explore spatial design and the interactive experience. Although this is not a new concept, pioneers like Verner Panton have explored the environmental opportunities spaces can offer by creating memorable interior spaces.

Innovation Lab in Huizhou, China — Designed by AIM Architects (Photo: Dirk Weiblen)

Innovation Lab in Huizhou, China — Designed by AIM Architects (Photo: Dirk Weiblen)

Innovation Lab in Huizhou, China — Designed by AIM Architects (Photo: Dirk Weiblen)

AIM Architecture, for example, worked with China Resources Group to redesign the company’s Innovation Lab. According to AIM Architecture’s principal Wendy Saunders, the goal was for light and color to work in tandem to help affect the lab employee’s mood, energy, and motivation. Along with architect Vincent de Graff, Saunders and her team worked towards developing an environment where “space is a visual reminder of the creativity and innovation that follows an open mind and forward thinkers.”

Innovation Lab in Huizhou, China — Designed by AIM Architects (Photo: Dirk Weiblen)

Although many factors go into renovating and changing the overall interiors of a work environment, one can argue that workspaces are becoming too conceptual and abstract. Some believe offices should in fact not foster a sense of comfort or adopt an overtly “youthful and open space” concept. After all, the office is a place where people go to work not live and hang out right?