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The Color Scheme of a Writing Center
If your goal is for an harmonious environment that encourages community, collaboration, and free-thinking, which colors or color groupings do you think would best help accomplish that end?

The question now arises, if we all see color differently and have different preferences, how do we choose a color for a communal space that positively affects most all who enter?

In this digital age, most envision the topic of “visual rhetoric” as diverse arrays of textual composition. They may not consider the visual rhetoric nor any rhetoric of the “space” in which that composition occurs nor the affects of that space on composing. While surfing the internet to gather information, most writing center sites that show images of their centers have one thing in common:  their centers are fairly academically uniform.  By that, these centers "ain't got no style"!  This is not to say that the centers are not run well or not excellent in working their goal to accommodate writing needs, but they just don't feel "inviting." Analysis of the color scheme of CSU Stanislaus' Writing Center serves as a base for observation with the following readings serving as criteria for evaluation.  According to Nancy Kwallek in "Color in Office Environments" popular beliefs about color conclude that "There is extensive writing on the supposed psychological effects of color, such as that red is energetic and aggressive, blue is tranquil, and yellow is uplifting...Though empirical evidence in this area is limited, the prevailing view is that warm colors are more arousing than cool colors, that red...speed[s] up motor reactions and impars[s] the efficiency of work performance" (Kwallek1).  As Kwallek continues her study, she notes that in reality there does not exist much empirical evidence concerning the effects of color on "task performance, worker productivity, and human psychology" (2). She discovers that when testing in a white room, red room, and pastel room, an individual's "screening ability."


"Low screeners were less productive in the red office than in the blue-green office.  On the other hand, high screeners were more productive in the red office than in the blue-office" (5). Kwallek's conclusion states that:  "Findings suggest that color scheme alone may impact mood. Surprisingly, though, mood and productivity were not related to each other, suggesting that the impact of colors and stimulus screening on both mood and productivity are independent" (5).   Her resolve: "Creating a sone-size -fits-all ideal initerior environment for indivicuals with differing characterics may be impossible" (5).

In Color Space by Rolf G. Kuehni, a mathematical perspective of color comes to view with many color charts coming to life through time. This book discusses the basic idea of color perception and the finding that each person even when viewing the same color may see it differently (15). 

Charles Riley II's Color Codes discusses philosophical and psychological attributes of color. The first section of the book notes different artist's color preferences. Seurat's Grand Jatte's focal point of the painting is a young girl in a white dress signifying childhood and innocence.  He then moves outward adding color. Kant felt colors should be pure and not mixed.

Blue was the popular color at Chartres, denoting harmony.  Goethe's harmony followed by Dutch, Flemish, and Venetian Old Masters drew upon the "murky gray atmosphere" (23). Hegel's harmony "embraced all the hues of the spectrum in one translucent effect" or "human flesh" (24).  This explains, in part, Titian and Renoir's portraits "with their intertissued veils of cool and warm tones" (24).

Obviously, this succession of artistic favorites turns into a desire for "harmony." "The existence of a purely qualitative similarity space suggest that there is a harmony between the four fileds (physical, physiciological, psychological, and logical" (37).  He also feels that "gold" is the single most important color.  "It expresses 'sunlight, value, divinity even,' the apex of spirituality, and intuition" (307). In support of Foucauldian Theory, Riley states: "Color triumphs when it effects the reversal of the system and "transforms the program" (68).



Color and Space Management in Your Office

Cool Summer Warm Spring Warm Fall Cool Winter

Color Me Beautiful from the 1980s taught about the different seasons of color and how we all fit into one area.  Summer and Winter colors were the "cooler"or "blue" tones, summer being more pastel.  The same idea followed for Spring and Fall only being the "warmer" or "yellow" tones.
Learning, Lighting, and Color

Color Psychology

Color Voodoo

Abstracts of Recent Research Articles related to COLOR

Feng Shui Colors

Making use of Feng Shui Colors can help you achieve balance in your office. Different colors have different properties some colors can help people feel grounded and secure. Blues, purples or reds are supposed to enhance the wealth and prosperity area of your office.

Works Selected

Jackson, Carole.  Color Me Beautiful.  New York:  Ballantine Books, 1987. 

Kwallek, Ph.D, Nancy.  "Implications"  Inform Design.  5:1.  Web. 2005 by the Regents of the University of Minnesota.  22 January 2010. <http://www.informedesign.com/_news/jan_v05r-p.pdf.>

Kuehni, Rolf G.  Color Space and Its Divisions.  Hoboken:  A John Wiley & Sons Publication, 2000.

Maier, Markus, Petra Barchfeld, Andrew J. Elliot, and Reinhard Pekrun. " Preferences: The Case of Human Preference for Red."  American Psychological Association.  Web. 9:5 (2009):  743-738.  11 Jan 2010.

Maier, Markus A., Arlen C. Moller, Ron Friedman, and Jo¨rg Meinhardt.  "Color and Psychological Functioning: The Effect of Red on Performance Attainment." American Psychological Association.  Journal of Experimental Psychololy. Web. 136:1 (2007):  154–168.  11 Jan 2010.

Riley II, Charles A.  Color Codes.  Hanover:  University Press of New England, 1995.

Valdez, Patricia and Albert Mehrabian.  "Effects of Color on Emotions."  Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.  Web.  123:4 (2009):  394-409.  11 Jan 2010.


Developed for NCWCA Conference 2010
Revised for PNWCA 201

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