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Creating an Impact: Choosing the Right Colors for Higher Education Design

Color palettes for higher education interior design are a difficult topic to write on.

It may be simpler for the interior designer, but a little more difficult to set in stone as it’s a fluid and super ‘brand-driven’ style of design.

I don’t mean brands like YSL or Gucci, I mean brand as in the university logo and colors.

University of California Berkeley - Photo Courtesy of Perkins&Will

Although color psychology plays a massive role in every design, higher education color choices are more driven by the logo colors and the palette set on by the institution.

If you are straying from that palette, I’ll provide a few suggestions for colors, but I’ll also provide tips for when you are kind of restrained with the color palette of the logo.

First, always include neutral tones as the base layer. But that’s just logic. This not only gives you a blank canvas to play off, but in a few years when they want a refresh, not everything has to change, you can just switch out the accented colors and make the space look brand new!

Anyways, to the good part…!

Here are a few great color suggestions:

  1. Green. There are so many different shades of green, so be sure to choose one that resonates best with you, but almost any shade of green is perfect in learning environments. And this is because of the association of green with nature, which is known to increase relaxation, but not in a bad way. Green is known to calm the mind, therefore increasing concentration!

  2. Orange. Orange is known as a mood-lifting color. It is a bolder more confident color, but not as aggressive as red. If you choose orange, however, I want to warn you of two things. Avoid the brighter oranges as that can have similar effects as red, in being overwhelming and overstimulating. And be a little careful just how much you use, as orange is also a controversial color, it is one of those colors that people either love or hate. So just don’t overuse it!

  3. Blue. Honestly, this is obvious. Blue is much like green in its calming impact. Again the shade is important, but many of shades of blue can be comforting and increase the learner’s concentration.

And if you are using the colors from the institute’s logo, here are a few things to keep in mind:

The colors may not entirely work to increase focus or concentration, so just keep that in mind when choosing paint colors, upholsteries, etc. If it is a bright, more stimulating color, use it in moderation in spaces where the students will be studying or writing exams. You can bring this in more in the lobby areas or student gathering spaces.

However, if they are colors that do help students, feel free to use them at will. You are the designer; you will know what feels right. Picture it, if you can. How would you feel writing your final exam in a room with these colors? Would they distract you? If so, keep to the less saturated shades of the color.

Including Flexxform furniture in your higher education design? Reach out to us for help in picking upholsteries and a quote –!


Architects, H. (2019, November 8). On the Interior: College Campus Design Trends. Retrieved from HMC Architects:

Cherry, K. (2021, October 06). The Color Psychology of Orange. Retrieved from Very Well Mind:

The Psychology of Color: How Do Colors Influence Learning? (n.d.). Retrieved from Shift:


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