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How does colour in a learning space influence learning?


When you visualise your ideal learning space as a teacher, what colours do you choose? Do you choose colours at random or because like them? Colour is extremely important, and when used correctly, plays a key role in creating an environment that fosters learning. The use of colour can also help define a room’s purpose – whether it is for creative learning or quiet rest and study.


So, which colours encourage learning? Which colours can be overstimulating in large doses? Colours can seriously affect the feelings, attention and behaviour of people, which is why in learning spaces it is so much more important to get the colour scheme correct. The colours you pick for your learning space will depend on the students; bright and vibrant colours are not ideal for students prone to overstimulation, but are good for preschool children who need to be stimulated. Classrooms are used for many different purposes, but the main intention is learning. So, when choosing colours, the chosen colours should work well on their own and together to maximise information retention and stimulate participation.

Blue Colour experts recommend using blue colours to aid high levels of thought, communication and productivity. It is a relaxing colour, although this is dependent on the shade. A lighter blue, for example, is friendlier than a sombre dark blue. It is best used in quiet areas of school to make pupils feel relaxed, such as a library, and is a good colour to use if you are creating a space that has areas of different use, for example a reading area within the classroom.

Red is a powerful colour. It is very stimulating, attracts attention and increases brain activity. However, red can be too stimulating, so the best way to incorporate red into a space is through furniture – such as chairs in a classroom, because as a colour it attracts attention and helps maintain focus. Using a bright red with a darker hue of its complementary colour green would create a perfect balance of calm and energizing.

Yellow is a very stimulating colour that is ideally used in small doses as the stimulating affect can also create feelings of anxiety. It is well-known for promoting creativity and maintaining attention, especially in younger children. A darker hue of yellow can have a warmer affect, whereas the lighter shades create feelings of happiness. Like red, yellow is better used on furniture and in areas where creativity is encouraged. Alternatively, for younger children, wearing yellow will ensure their attention is mostly on you. Yellow is best used in areas where creativity is important, such as a workshop or studio or in preschool classrooms.

Green is an excellent colour for improving concentration and promoting restfulness and calm because it is a low wavelength colour. It is also a good colour to use in classrooms, as the yellow in green encourages creativity whilst the blue in green is calming and improves concentration. Green is best used in the classroom on chairs and storage. It is also ideal for study areas, such as libraries. a lighter green tends to be more stimulating than a darker hue.

Orange is a positive colour and good for happiness. In feng-shui it is seen as a yang colour which stimulates focus and promotes organisation. For boosting energy and stimulation, go bright and bold. For a more relaxing effect, go for a mellow and less-vibrant orange. Orange is best used in small doses in a classroom, like red, through the furniture or for the background of displays of student’s work.

Purple is best for meditative areas. With connotations of sophistication and luxury, it is a warm and relaxing colour. Ideal to be used with soft seating in various shades in breakout spaces, LRCs and in classrooms where there is a more relaxed approach to learning.

Neutral colours are best for backdrops or to offset other colours and make them stand out more. White tables are good as they stimulate children, however they are best if used with bright coloured chairs and other furniture.  An ideal classroom would use neutral colours on the walls of the room and for the larger pieces of furniture in the classroom, in combination with splashes of different colours on the furniture in the room. A great addition and way to add colour to a classroom would be to use brightly coloured chairs, a CubeWall with coloured doors and back panels, and a reading nook with coloured seating in darker hues for relaxation.

Complementary pairs of colours all form the basis for successful colour schemes. In their pure forms, complementary colours create electric combinations that vibrate with energy. Tonal shades of the same colours, lighter or darker versions, are less stimulating and easier on the eye. Where possible, try and avoid using too many complementary colours in one place as it can be over stimulating.

So which colours would you decide on for your spaces? For LRCs, libraries and breakout spaces, calming colours like purple, blue and green are good with splashes of vibrant, creative colours such as orange, red and yellow. For the classroom, choose colours based on the learning style and age of students. For pre-school pupils, brighter colours are best for stimulation and to maintain students’ attention, whereas for higher education, calming colours with bright hues running through them may be more appropriate.

Do you have any ideas for your next learning space project? At zioxi, we offer a free, no obligation space planning service to make transforming your space stress-free. From IT and media suites to library upgrades, we do it all. For more information, please contact us.