Designing with colour in healthcare environments


The crafted color palette has a tremendous effect on medical facilities. Color and graphic images can be used to achieve an overall visual aesthetic that matches the facility’s existing logo and iconic colors, while at the same time eliciting a unique perception of emotion and space. It has the ability to calm and excite, making the room look smaller or more magnificent, or even triggering a subconscious reaction. Color is the most important, impactful and expressive design element in a designer’s toolbox.

Medical facility colors, emotions, architectural space

Color has the potential for as many physiological and psychological effects as the number of colors on the spectrum. Color-related reactions are spontaneous and can be positive or negative, but are still often unique to each person. Therefore, when designing a medical facility, color should be carefully considered, taking into account professionals, visitors, and patients with different levels of disability who use the space.

Color causes the psychological and physiological effects of the mind, which causes changes in the body. Color influences a person’s feelings about space. Light and cool colors seem to expand the space, while dark and warm colors surround the space and make it feel smaller. The perception of weight and size feels the same – bright and cool colors don’t seem to feel heavier than dark and light colors.

Color has been shown to affect body temperature. Warm tones (red, orange, yellow) can increase body temperature, while cold tones have the opposite effect. Color can affect a person’s perception of time. Warm-colored spaces tend to feel like they’re there longer than they have, and time seems to pass slowly. The various shapes and colors of brilliance can cause irritation and excitement, induce boredom and calmness, and even actively contribute to the patient’s recovery process. Such facts are becoming more effectively recognized and implemented by architects and interior designers.

The typical white environment of a hospital evokes a fairly vivid image of white walls, white beds, white uniforms and blue robes. This creates a sacred and hygienic impression while leaving the patient with a cold, pale, boring and numb feeling. vitality. For those suffering from a serious illness, facing this environment can lead to loss of hope and fear of death. Today, major design changes are being made to improve the atmosphere of medical facilities where delicate use of color is applied depending on the type of illness and clinic.

However, it is important to note that the emotional response to color is highly dependent on saturation and brightness. For example, desaturated bright colors such as sage green can be viewed relaxedly. On the other hand, it is highly saturated like dark sapphire blue, and dark colors are quite energetic. Each hue has its own association and emotional trigger.

Colors used on the floors of hospitals and other medical facilities

In general, it is advisable not to use more than three main colors in one interior space. The color of the ceiling should be lighter or the same as the wall and may be white or match the hue of the wall. Connected spaces should use similar hues, but individual closed spaces can use different colors. In large areas, bright and elegant colors are recommended over bright colors.

The basic principle of effective use of color in the interior space is to maintain overall harmony, taking into account the contrast at the detail level.

Taking the children’s hospital as an example, the entrance area can be painted with warm colors such as orange, yellow, and red to welcome children. Applying warm yellow to the waiting room will make you feel interesting and warm.

The corridors, examination rooms and treatment rooms can be relaxed in light blue or green, while yellow and pink can be used as small decorations and accents. Bright colors and playful patterns such as animals and trees can be applied to the public zones within the patient area. Finally, a bright orange or yellow color can be applied into the room to stimulate the child’s appetite.

What do I need to consider when designing with color in a medical facility?

  • The effect of lighting and materials on color
  • Age and gender of the person using the space: Men have been shown to have a low preference for red and purple, and children may prefer bright or medium value colors and more imaginative patterns.
  • Bright, recognizable colors are better suited for facilities for the elderly than bright pastel, which is barely visible to people with poor eyesight.
  • Disease nature and severity: For example, in an environment tailored to a person with a neurological disorder, avoid the use of harsh colors and patterns as they can cause seizures.
  • The type of task, the amount of contrast required for the level of vision: For example, a highly illuminated warm color may promote increased alertness and is suitable for muscle effort in a physiotherapy gym.
  • Is there space for patients, staff, or visitors, and how long is the typical length of time these people are exposed to color?
  • Is it your goal to emphasize or camouflage?
  • Is your goal to organize the space using colors as clues?
  • Use as a route search clue: For example, you can use bright colors in pastel or neutral color fields to emphasize your desired travel path or draw attention to an area.
  • Used to indicate a hazard. For example, in the United States, color coding is used to aid decision making by specifying color stereotypes (red warning information, yellow caution information, and other color advisory information that can be clearly distinguished from red or yellow). It was developed. Similar universal color coding standards introduced by ANSI and ISO include green for safety. These standards for safety colors, signs, and graphics are designed to reduce accidents and injuries in public facilities such as hospitals around the world.
  • Geographical and cultural prejudices: For example, in northern climates with long and harsh winters, warm colors may be more appropriate than cool colors. In the west, the quality of the light is warmer and stronger than in the east. In the tropics, strongly saturated colors (hot pink, orange, purple, lime green) are often preferred.
  • Consider maintenance: Maintenance is very important in healthcare as color affects the perception of a clean environment. Dark colors can indicate the white threads that are prevalent in healthcare and the cloudy stains of alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
  • Consider Esthetics: As an example, studies may show that a wall of blue accents is desirable for patients with coronary artery treatment, but certain saturation and hues, and how to use the colors, are designers. It depends entirely on your skills and talents. So while the first color palette may not have been developed based on intuition or personal taste, the final product is an image of the talent of the individual designer.

Written by Removan der Wilt, Head of Corporate Target Market Flooring. Seeker Service AG


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