It is easy to identify that color continues to be a design phenomena, weighted with many opinions, and until it’s deeper reviewed with controlled studies that focus on space design, designers do not have objective, free of debate, best practices guidelines on how to apply it. It is also important to understand color is not a pigment or a dye. It is light, with each color having a unique wavelength, which is received via our retinas, and which in return sends electrical impulses to our brains. Regardless of more empirical color data regarding individual hue responses within spatial environments, there are a plethora of controlled color research studies that indicate color has a physiological impact on humans (Torrice 1989, Elliot 2007, Küller et al 2009, Zhu 2009, Elliot 2011). Not regarding its application, but color as a subject to research is undeniably complex. For researchers, with merit, to lay any claims regarding color’s influence in built environments, research teams need to start with addressing color as a physical materiality, light, versus an object, such as paint. Studies need to also take into foundational consideration that a human rarely to never receives color experiences with one hue. Instead our color experiences are that of layered hue combinations, with each palette having degrees of each hue’s proportion and saturation levels.
Regardless of this, as we look further into color’s contributions, designers know this design tool plays a foundational role in materiality, art work, and furnishings that tying into patient rooms, staff areas, and inviting home-like social support settings, such as day rooms and kitchenettes. Many believe colors role within these architectural and ancillary design items to be a must for any interior that has the goal of harmonizing and lifting spirits. It is also believed a successful combination of these elements, in partnership with additional elements such as natural lighting, reduced acoustics, and a sense of control, can further negate institutional nuances and reduce tensions.
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