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Pantone Color of the Year: The Impact of Greenery

The power of Greenery affects the workplace on multiple levels.
Enel GreenPower Headquarters in Andover, MA. Photo by Robert Benson.

Once a year, in a secret part of Europe, a group of elite color strategists, psychologists, and trend forecasters stare deep into a giant crystal ball and channel visions of the future. Well, half of that is true—the other half is a little more pragmatic. For that last 17 years, the Pantone Color Institute has presented to the world its Pantone Color of the Year. The group pays close attention to big picture demographics such as Hollywood films, fashion, technology, and popular travel destinations. Then they crunch thousands of data points down to one relevant color that sets the global tone for the entire following year. In its introduction to 2016’s color of the year, Rose Quartz and Serenity, Pantone stated “…as consumers seek mindfulness and wellbeing as an antidote to modern day stresses, welcoming colors that psychologically fulfill our yearning for reassurance and security are becoming more prominent.” As designers, we certainly saw these influences in our work as clients moved away from big pops of color in favor of more soothing palettes in the workplace.

Confidential internet services client. Photo by Sherman Takata.
Confidential internet services client. Photo by Sherman Takata.

In a world that is increasingly focused on autonomy and resilience in changing times of uncertainty and unrest, we cannot think of a more fitting time than 2017 for Greenery to be Pantone’s Color of the Year. The color green effects the human psyche in a number of positive ways. Proven to evoke feelings of compassion and adaptability, green encourages us to be self-resilient, reliable, and dependable. The selection of a color that subconsciously infuses us with feelings of harmony and balance and a sense of diplomacy makes us wonder if this year’s selection was a conscious or unconscious choice in hopes of inspiring people to stand together, rely on one another, and remain caring and tactful.

Confidential financial client. Photo by Thomas McConnell.
Confidential internet services client. Photo by Sherman Takata.

Deeper implications of the psychological effects of green, related to strategy and approach, directly translate to the workplace. From choices for healthier food to creating more engaging work environments, employers are increasingly leaning towards social responsibility and a better workplace experience for staff. 

Confidential financial client. Photo by Thomas McConnell.
Confidential internet services client. Photo by Sherman Takata.

As the line between work and personal life blurs, there is an inherent understanding between employers and the workforce that performance equals ability x motivation x opportunity. And this year’s Pantone color is definitely motivating; a perfect fit for the evolving work environment and the growing (no pun intended!) trend to include its living muse, the plant, in workplace design. Indoor biophilia is expected to flourish in 2017 as its association with wellbeing and productivity gains recognition. According to Spacetor’s top five trends for the workspace this year, biophilic design will result in a 6 percent increase in productivity, a 15 percent increase in wellbeing, and 15 percent increase in creativity.

LinkedIn in Toronto. Photo by Eric Laignel.
LinkedIn in Toronto. Photo by Eric Laignel.

Today, as we witness a renewed approach to space, changing needs, and an evolving interest in new ideas and new ways of working that are more people-focused than ever before, the color green becomes emblematic of the times. Green is the color of freshness, revitalization, regrowth, renewal and new ideas.  Look at the apps on your phone, and you will see many displaying a fresh spring-like green color.

Enel GreenPower Headquarters in Andover, MA. Photo by Robert Benson.
Enel GreenPower Headquarters in Andover, MA. Photo by Robert Benson.

We see the use of Greenery in both the literal plantscape of the office as well as in the design of fabrics and materials. Many large technology companies, often leaders in workplace trends, are starting to embrace a more Zen-like aesthetic that connects people to materials and colors from nature, with an eye towards promoting a healthy and engaged workplace. Since the workforce—human capital—is one of the most expensive and vital contributors to a company’s creativity and productivity, workplace messaging and opportunities for wellness and satisfaction will play an increasingly important role in the recruitment and retention of valued talent.

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