Understanding sensory stimulation of people in public environments is vital to designing any interior space where people of various ages, religion, gender and background come together to work (office), experience (retail), stay (hospitality), eat (restaurant) and enjoy life.

The process of perceiving our built environment results in experiences called sensation. Human experience is affected by cognitive processes such as thinking and memory that are obtained by organising and integrating information and making assumptions from it.

Perception is formed by an interaction between the information stimulating our five senses and information from our past experiences that already exists. Sensation (what you experience in the moment) and perception (past experience or memory) have direct influence on human behaviours and attitudes. In other words, our emotional and cognitive responses are affected by our feelings from seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and touching.

In each of the following senses you will find selected colours which are most inspirational to that theme. In the FloorworX collection, the name of the flooring, the code, the NCS code for ease of design and the Light Reflectance Value (LRV) are given. LRV is the measurement of the light reflected from the surface of the flooring and is critical in the design of all buildings, not only for the visually impaired but also for the reduction of energy consumption.

Sight
We see our surroundings and we see them in colour. Why? In the beginning, the ability to distinguish between different colours was probably a necessary asset in the fight for survival. No wonder yellow, red, blue and green are the factory safety colours as per SABS 1091 – 2011.

“There is an extreme need for calm colours in the workplace now,” says Lisa Taylor, colour analyst, trend forecaster and distributor for the Natural Colour System (NCS) in Southern Africa.

“Our working lives are characterised by multi-tasking and too much stimulus to the language centres of our brains – we’re constantly calling, sending SMSs and emailing, sometimes all at the same time.”

“Our minds start losing the ability to focus on one thing at a time. By using the correct colour in a working environment, we can become calm, more productive and better able to deal with the noise of technology, deadline stresses and the general speed of our everyday lives.”

”We need to have fewer warm colours – yellow to red – in our work environment, and more of the blue-greens, as that side of the colour circle calms the mind and focuses it on the task at hand.”

Taylor suggests a 10% blue and 90% green combination for maximum effect. “Blue has the ability to slow down the mind, while green has a calming effect,” she says.

”Importantly, research has shown that blue-green does not elicit great variances in emotional reaction from people, as do brighter colours. Most human beings respond the same to blue-green because it reflects the predominant colours of nature, of the sky, the sea, plants.”

Meeting rooms and boardrooms are more limited in terms of colour – here blue-green once again works best to create a calm atmosphere conducive to negotiations and presentations.

Ideally, a workplace should be colour-updated every three to four years, taking into consideration factors such as world events, the company’s direction and societal changes.

“An updated workplace feels fresh and new, and thus uplifts the people working in it,” Taylor says. “The same colour can be used, but lighten or darken the colour to stimulate the mind and the eye. Remember, no matter how successful a colour has worked in the past, people get used to it and the colour loses its impact.”

It is clearly not a case of ‘one colour suits all’. The best approach is to consider each working space separately.

Hearing
Noise pollution generally disrupts the activity or balance of human life. Unfortunately the source of most outdoor noise worldwide is mainly construction and transportation systems, including motor vehicle noise, aircraft noise, and rail noise. In addition, having flooring that resonates and carries sound may cause echoes or disturbance and may irritate staff.

High noise levels can contribute to cardiovascular effects in humans, a rise in blood pressure, an increase in stress and vasoconstriction, and an increased incidence of coronary artery disease.
The best way to reduce sound is at the source. That’s why acoustic floors are key when it comes to reducing noise in buildings. The FloorworX products take two key criteria into account – impact sound reduction and residual indentation.

A recent trend in flooring is the advent of Luxury Vinyl Planks (LVPs). Much more than just flooring, LVPs from FloorworX represent a lifestyle choice for those who value taste, individualism, quality and the sound reduction of foot traffic on vinyl vs. any hardfloor product in the office.

Luxury vinyl is typically manufactured from virgin PVC, has a tough wear layer, and also has a more robust backing system than standard vinyl sheet goods. Soft and comfortable underfoot, luxury vinyl accurately represents real hardwood colours and textures for beauty in a vinyl product. Luxury vinyl plank flooring is considered by many to be the perfect blend of style and functionality.

Flotex, on the other hand, offers a new dimension in flooring. It is a completely unique flooring experience that combines all the hardwearing and durable characteristics of a resilient floor with the quality, warmth and comfort of carpet. And there is more – Flotex has excellent acoustic properties and is slip-resistant.

What colour should your working environment be? It all depends on the industry and the nature of the work you do. The suggestions below can serve as a broad framework.

Taste is closely related to smell, is relative and is influenced by a person’s environment.

Smell fragrance is often linked to colour and gives one a sense of positive or negative judgments.

Marmoleum meets the VOC emission requirements for use in the public milieu and is qualified as a low‐emitting material which makes this natural product an excellent choice for any corporate environment.

Touch
Surface textures influence the spatial experience on a deeply subconscious level. It is not only “hand touchable” surfaces that affect the perception of a space. These textures will affect the spatial experience whether they are visual or tactile.

For example, a high-gloss floor next to a textured floorcovering such as Flotex will appear extra slippery and will slow traffic at the transition of these two flooring finishes.

Texture influences the effect of light on interior surfaces and is thus a very important component which influences the sensory experience of an interior. Keep in mind that flooring with the purpose of producing a memory or experience can add value to the design of a public area.

FloorworX recognises the importance of the correct use of colour within buildings and realises the need to equip professionals in the field with the necessary skills to reap the benefits of efficiently using colour in corporate environments.