Colour Theory in Commercial Design

by Wade Larkin on

Colour Theory in Commercial Design

Colour theory is both the science and art of using colour. It explains how humans perceive colour and the visual effects of how colours mix, match or contrast with each other. Colour theory also involves the messages that colours communicate, and the methods used to replicate colour. An understanding of colour theory helps one go beyond the approach of ‘it just looks right’.

The Importance of Colour Theory

With this in mind, how can colour affect a commercial environment? Where strategically implemented, colour plays an integral role in the development of atmosphere. When executed thoughtfully, colour can communicate unspoke brand messages, improve the client experience and incite specific moods to boost both creativity and productivity for staff. Not to mention, the importance of aesthetics cannot be understated, especially with regards to creating a first impression for prospective clientele.

All of these important factors contribute to a more profitable business overall.

How Does Colour Affect Us?

Colour is perception. When you’re strolling down the soft drink aisle looking for a six-pack of Coke, scanning the shelves filled with hundreds of cans and bottles, what do you look for? The logo, or the red can? People base their purchasing decisions on colour – an easily identifiable characteristic that can rouse emotion upon a glance.

How to Choose the Right Commercial Office Colour Schemes

The first question that should be asked is: ‘how do you want your clientele to feel in your space?’

It is first important to note that individuals react differently to visual stimuli. To provide some context, it’s worth referencing a recent University of Texas study which found that overly grey, beige and white offices led to staff showing increased feelings of sadness and depression, especially in women, while men encountered similar emotions when placed in overly purple and orange work environments.

Once you have decided on what tone of mood you want to set, you can go about choosing colours that help incite these emotions.

Green expresses feelings of cleanliness, freshness and success. Often associated with money or nature, green can be used to promote a quiet, elegant feel to a room and develop a sense of calm.

    Blue tends to be perceived in association with trust, competence and loyalty. A calming colour that rarely runs the risk of annoying people, blue invokes peace and easily harmonises with other colours to produce an exciting design aesthetic.

    Yellow connects us with feelings of happiness, creativity and optimism due to its’ well-meaning nature. Yellow is often associated with the sun and as such, the giving of life and warmth.

    Red and orange inspire excitement and activity. Easily noticed among any backdrop, these warm colours catch the attention of many and express passion, energy and strength. Red is associated with love, for example.

      Purple conveys luxury, spirituality and ambition and can be an interesting choice for commercial spaces that wish to be unique. Similarly, the use of pink suggests sincerity and sweetness, often used in casual settings or for luxury outlets in the industries of clothing, jewellery or care.

      Black is the colour of formality, elegance and sophistication. It is bold, definitive and works well to give layouts a stylish appearance. Similarly, white is associated with professionalism, cleanliness and classy simplicity, working well as a background or in harmony with bright colours.

        Highlight and Compliment Your Brand Colours

        The next step in utilising colour psychology within your commercial office colour schemes involves deducing what tones and hues of the emotive colours mentioned above will work with your existing brand colour palette.

        Using a colour wheel to inform design is suggested in order to achieve colour harmony. Apply the following colour scheme rules to help you choose a cohesive colour palette for your space:

        Monotone – same colour in varying depths and saturation

        Analogous colours – colours that are side by side on the colour wheel

        Complimentary colours – colours that are opposite, across from each other on the colour wheel

        Triad colours – a triad colour scheme comprises any three colours evenly spaced on the wheel. These tend to be bright, bold and adventurous colours, so brace yourself for this one!

          Once you choose your primary colours, you can work to incorporate some other small highlight colours that suit your commercial building colour schemes.

          How to Incorporate Colour into the Space

          Now that the colour palette has been established, you may be wondering about just how to bring colour into your business environment. Below are some suggestions: 

            Paint and Wall Decals

            Perhaps the simplest way of integrating colour into the space, incorporate your chosen colour scheme onto the walls of your commercial space or within artworks and decals.


            Colour can be applied through the flooring of commercial space in the form of patterns or outlines as an example. Sleek tiles work well with a black and white colour scheme, and wood panelling works well with green or brown colour schemes, for example.


            Decorative accessories such as curtains, plants, or pillows are a great way to fill out the space and apply personality and implement colour.


            Commercial building colour schemes are best developed when aligned with the encompassing furniture, an easy and practical way to integrate colour within a space.

            NPS Commercial Furniture is the industry leader in comfortable, functional and stylish furnishings – home to a wide array of sleek, tasteful fittings suitable for any modern commercial space.

            Our range of +Halle sofas and armchairs offer a wide variety of choice in colour, including your pick of fabrics from Australian designed and manufactured Instyle fabrics. Similarly, our Pedrali chairs and upholstered seating products channels premium Italian design across a vast array of materials and colours to suit all palettes. 

            If you’re looking to inject some colour into your collaborative workspace consider the Lintex Flow Mobile Communication Board, which embraces Scandinavian style, made from tempered, low-iron glass in both high sheen or silk matte finishes. 

            Need a quiet place for small teams to work on a task, or for a private phone call? Our Framery soundproof pods solve noise issues and aid focused work. Build your own colour combination from a wide range of finishes for these functional, stylish soundproof spaces.

            Create the Perfect Commercial Fit-Out with NPS Commercial Furniture

            NPS Commercial Furniture is a Townsville-based commercial furniture company serving businesses across all sectors. We offer a wide range of high-quality, practical commercial furniture solutions that can contribute to the colour considerations of commercial spaces.

            As a full-service (meaning we can quote, purchase and install) furniture supplier with exclusive access to leading Australian and international brands, our pieces offer quality, style and comfort, enabling your employees to maximise their performance.