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  • Writer's pictureDavinci Interiors

Psychology of Design Part I: The Positive Impact of Environments with Color

Updated: Apr 6, 2023

Design psychology is a fascinating field that combines various disciplines such as neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and social psychology to study the relationship between environments and their inhabitants. For interior designers, this means designing spaces to maximize the positive effects of this relationship. At Davinci Interiors, we know the key to successful design is to start with the occupants of the space. In this post we will explore how color is a critical component of interior design.


Color, light, space planning, environmental psychology, and physical, physiological, and psychological well-being are all important aspects of design psychology. Understanding how these elements impact human behavior can lead to more effective design solutions.

Chameleon effect for conversation
Color and Mirroring

One interesting phenomenon in design psychology is the chameleon effect, also known as mirroring. This refers to the unconscious mimicking of behaviors of people in near proximity. This effect can be used to foster social interaction and reduce anxiety.


Another tool used in design psychology is priming, which is an efficient tool of persuasion in marketing and advertising sectors. Understanding how to prime a space with color can be used to create specific moods and emotions.


The Von Restorff Effect is also an interesting principle to consider in design. When multiple similar objects are present, the one that is most different is more likely to be remembered. Designers can use this effect to create memorable and unique spaces. You often see this with a unique art piece, or a colorful pillow in a room with neutral tones.


Balance, proportion, symmetry, and rhythm can introduce a sense of harmony in a space, while colors have a simple logic behind them. Warm colors make a space feel more compact, while cooler colors can evoke feelings of comfort or stimulate communication. The theory of colors by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe helps us understand the psychological traits and benefits associated with different colors.

Color Swatches
Colors

Red is associated with power, aggression, passion, and appetite. Too much red can make people feel anxious and unsettled. Orange is associated with energy, competition, and innovation but may not be suitable for serene spaces. Yellow is associated with relaxation, happiness, creativity, innocence, and nurturing. Green is associated with soothing, calming, balance, harmony, and nature and is ideal for professional settings to create a calm atmosphere.

Blue themed kitchen

Blue is associated with fresh, calm, and serenity and is often used in health offices and financial institutions. Purple is associated with luxury, privilege, specialness, divinity, exceptional individuality, creativity, and quirkiness. Too much purple can make people feel sad, irritable, and arrogant.


Grey is associated with neutrality and balance, but the tone and shade are essential. Too much grey can make people feel depressed, listless, and unwelcome. Brown is associated with organic colors, strength, and reliability, but too much brown can feel heavy and unimaginative. Combining browns with greens, whites, and neutrals can create a serene, cheerful space. Black is associated with death, unhappiness, mystery, sophistication, seriousness, intellectualism, and sexuality. Used as an accent, it can create harmony and balance, but too much black can feel overpowering.


Lighting is also crucial in design psychology. A dim light suggests a gloomy space, while bright light defines a bigger, more animated appearance. Natural light stimulates production and recovery and reduces anxiety and depression. Understanding how to use lighting to create specific moods and emotions can be a powerful tool for interior designers.


Irving Weiner, AIA, an environmental psychology professor at Massasoit Community College in Middleborough, Mass, states that “Some of these environmental influences we cannot see or touch, yet they have a direct influence on our behavior or mood.” Understanding how space psychology can lead to better productivity in commercial projects, bigger sales in retail ventures, and accelerated recovery in healthcare developments is critical for interior designers.


Color is a critical component of interior design and plays a significant role in design psychology. Understanding how color affects human behavior can help interior designers create spaces that maximize positivity and productivity. With an understanding of color psychology, designers can create memorable and unique spaces that evoke specific emotions and moods. Ultimately, it is essential to remember that design psychology goes beyond aesthetics and focuses on the impact of environments on their inhabitants. Understanding how space affects behavior and mood can lead to more effective solutions that elevate the quality of life and wellbeing of the occupants. In Part II of this series we will cover how space impacts the psychology of design. Stay tuned! Contact us at the following link to set up a free discovery call or to schedule an in-person consultation: https://www.davinciinteriors.com/contact. We’d love to help make your design dreams a reality! And follow us on Instagram @davinciinteriors123.

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