How the power of design plays tricks on the eyes

07 August 2015. Features.

How do planned environments influence the mind? What is it about design and aesthetics that can penetrate our subconscious and alters our moods and emotions?

From finishes and colours, through to the use of mirrors, lighting, furniture and even walls, illusions can be created throughout interior design schemes.  We already know that natural materials and clever planting bring the outdoors inside, smart artificial lighting levels keep our body clocks on track, despite the lack of natural light available, and even Lewis Carroll-inspired schemes have ability to challenge, motivate and wow us all. How can these elements be used and combined to set a scene, to play with our senses and create a sense of theatre in the workplace?

It’s not just about the colours on walls, carpets and finishes. It’s now about being clever with design and using to create illusions that can for example, keeping our minds alert and active by use of artificial lighting, or the use of tardis-like interiors that can surprise and ‘lift’ us.

 “On average people spend 100,000 hours of their life in an office – and people don’t want an office that is designed to be an office”, says Ben Murray Head of Marketing at Peldon Rose at the Mix Interiors Round Table Event last month.

“I think it’s at the end of the journey when the illusion can live on for the people who use that space. They want to be transported to somewhere else. They want to have different environments that create the illusion of being on a beach or in a forest or in a café or in a home. You have to sell and design the illusion – but once it’s complete you hope the illusion will live on in the spaces you create”.

In a working environment it’s important to establish what you’re trying to achieve before looking at the illusion you want to create. Consider the people who will occupy that space and how they need to fill. The creative potential with design is endless, but here are some key contributors to consider that can have a profound impact on workers state of mind during those office hours.


A study by colour psychologist Dr David Lewis revealed that 80% of UK office staff believe the colour of their surroundings has a significant impact on both their emotions and their performance. Not a statistic wise to ignore. Colour is one of the key factors that taps into our ability to change moods during office hours and it should be taken into serious consideration when planning an office fit-out. The colours you choose need to mirror the tone you are want to create within that space. Blue, for example perpetuates feelings of calm and tranquillity; red symbolises power and passion and can be used to warm a space to evoke a sense of intimacy (though careful how far you take this in a working environment). Yellow signifies happiness, creation, and creativity whilst green is known for its soothing qualities, ideal for waiting areas.


Wi-Fi, online networking, gadgets, they are all here to stay, and to accommodate those who are effected by the disruption such as unwanted noise,  the future will see the continuing rise of  office quiet spaces. Being surrounded by continuous noise and distraction has been proven to significantly disrupt brain activity, impair concentration and reduce work productivity by 15%, according to a study by neuroscientist Dr Jack Lewis. By offering a separate space from the office ‘buzz’ you can create  the perfect environment free from distraction so workers can brainstorm and innovate to their hearts content. Taxi cabs and phone booths have even featured in some of London’s office spaces as ‘getaway zones’, the perfect hide to reside to when needed.

Natural light

Office plans that have more natural light have proven time and time again to increase creativity and productivity. However not all London office space is blessed with natural light pouring in at all hours, so to encourage more of that sunlight, or the illusion of ‘space and light’ within an office, tear down those walls to give a send of openness. Use glass walls for private offices and benching desks instead of claustrophobic workstations.

Such methods will enhance the aesthetic of your office design, and most importantly will have a huge impact on the mood and levels of productivity throughout the workplace.

Meeting spaces

They say that thinking like a child can aid creativity, because it means people question the norm. The concept of walking to a dull, lifeless boardroom is hardly the recipe for the most imaginative ideas to flourish. By inviting workers to meetings or brainstorming sessions, set the scene for the imagination to run wild. Concepts like tree houses have been found in London’s tech city, indoor gardens, fluorescent tubes to resemble a light box, or even suspended glass cages have all been built for the purpose of getting those creative mind cogs turning.

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