Should I use bright colour in my commercial furniture?

30 November 2018

Should I use bright colours in my commercial furniture?

To colour or not to colour? That is the question. When designing a space, you are also in charge of creating an atmosphere, which can be done simply by adding colour—if you want to that is. The safe decision is to choose a non-polarising single colour, perhaps a conservative neutral or muted hue. For the more adventurous however, adding a splash of colour to your church chairs, auditorium chairs or cinema seating solution can transform it to next-level stunning and help to define your space! The success of this lies within the palette you choose for the space you’re working with.

Colour 101: the basics

Before you do anything, it’s probably best you go back to school and revisit the colour wheel. You may have seen this back in the day, learning about your primary and secondary colours, but there are extra levels you likely never touched on:

  • Monochromatic/tonal colours: describes three different values of the same colour, which delivers a subtle and sophisticated look.

  • Analogous/harmonious colours: describes three adjacent colours, which provides a relaxing, calm and casual look.

  • Complementary/contrasting colours: is when you use two opposite colours on the colour wheel to give a strong and bold look. Typically one serves as the predominant colour, with the other providing the contrast.

  • Triadic colours: is the use of three colours equidistant on the wheel (one serving as the predominant colour and the other two as accents). This bold look delivers high energy.

  • Split complementary: the 2x colours on either side of a colour which is opposite the one chosen.

While you can make a confetti splash and use all the colours under the sun, we recommend the rule of three: it’s a can’t-fail strategy of limiting your palette to just three colours, for less-painful corneas and happier peeps on your cinema seats (or any other seating)!

Colour psychology: what energy do you want to evoke?

So now that you’ve refreshed your understanding of the colour wheel, you need to think about the space you’re working with. Whether you’re aware of this or not, there’s a science to how colours affect us personally. The reason why restaurants and kitchens are often red is because the colour basically makes us hungry! Banks use blue–symbolising trust and confidence–and hospitals use green–a healing and relaxing colour. So think about your space, what it will be used for (and by whom) and whether or not you want to create a calming or energetic environment. Here’s a quick overview of eight colours and their associations:

  • Red: emotionally intense; stimulates fast decision making; enhances metabolism.

  • Orange: associated with creativity and encouragement; stimulates mental activity.

  • Yellow: spontaneous; associated with joy and happiness; but overuse can be disturbing.

  • Green:  invokes a healing power; symbolises growth, relaxation; promotes tranquility.

  • Blue: symbolises trust, confidence, faith; promotes stability, cleanliness; shown to stimulate productivity.

  • Purple: associated with ambition, independence, creativity and magic.

  • Black: associated with elegance, formality; use with bright colours to make them pop.

  • White: depicts faith and purity; associated with cleanliness; promotes creativity.

The 60-30-10 rule: how much colour to use and where?

When you’ve got an idea of the colors you’d like to use, it’s time to determine the role they’ll play in your design. That’s where the 60-30-10 rule comes in. With this rule, you choose a dominant shade, a secondary shade, and an accent color. As the name of this rule suggests, your dominant shade covers about 60% of the room. With such a large role in your interior design, you may want this to be your most neutral colour choice. Your secondary shade can be a bit bolder, with the accent color delivering the final ‘pop’s that bring the room to life. So when thinking about atmosphere, the 60% should be calming, the 30% complementary, with only 10% of intensity. This colour ratio ensures a balance that puts the zing in ama-zing!

The main influencers: what should inform your colour palette?

Now that you understand colour and how to use it best, it’s time to factor in the key elements that will inform your furniture colour decisions.

  • Think about your brand: Is there a colour palette already in place? Do you want to reflect the brand in the furniture?

  • Think about the atmosphere: What environment are you creating? Calm or energetic? Cheery or cosy?

  • Think about the users of the space: How is the space going to be used? By whom?

  • Think about the rest of the space: Is there existing furnishings? What is the lighting like? What is the building design and landscaping like?

Finally, think about how long you would like your commercial seating to last. Typically, church chairs, cinema chairs, convention chairs or auditorium seating is a large investment so you want it to be timeless. Your colour palette shouldn’t be based on fads. While mustard and burnt orange are popular now, will it still be in a year’s time? Probably not. Instead, use trending colours in cheap, easily-replaceable elements, such as soft furnishings.

That’s a lot to take in, we know, but now that you’re down with your colours, it’s time to play!

Experiment with various colour harmonies. Consider the mood you want to create. Play with the colour ratio and don’t forget the rest of the project. Seating and furniture should not be an insular decision, but one that is informed by your knowledge and courage to step into a world of colour. While Alloyfold’s most popular colours are grey and dark blue, we’ve got some courageous customers who have chosen some ace colour combos that look amazing! Check out some of our installation inspiration below. Don’t fear colour. It just might deliver the zing you’ve been looking for.

“Colour is a truly magical property. It can transform an environment, create a style, set a mood and alter perceptions.”

Horsham Church of Christ: Alloyfold church chairs in a citrus splash of lime and orange (a great triadic example) have made an energising environment for their congregation.

Rolleston College: Alloyfold retractable seating with 32 red chairs that pop against the rest in  classic charcoal. The red also ties in with the beautiful accent in their timber display wall.

If you want to learn how Alloyfold can help you brighten up your commercial space, give us a call. | 1 800 287 025 | +64 3 349 4065


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Extra for experts:

  • has a great article on the Basics of Colour Theory and great examples of the colour wheel.

  • If you want to read more about colours and how they affect us, check out The psychology of colour blog from The Los Angeles Film School.