One of the many interesting aspects of red that they noted: Given red’s “pushy” reputation, design experts long thought people felt uncomfortable and worked poorly when confined to red rooms.
But when Dr. Nancy Kwallek, a professor of interior design at the University of Texas at Austin, recently compared the performance of clerical workers randomly assigned for a week to rooms with red, blue-green or white color schemes, she found that red’s story, like the devil, is in the details.
Workers who were identified as poor screeners, who have trouble blocking out noise and other distractions during the workday, did indeed prove less productive and more error-prone in the red rooms than did their similarly thin-skinned colleagues in the turquoise rooms.
For those employees who were rated as good screeners, however, and able to focus on their job regardless of any ruckus around them, the results were flipped. Screeners were more productive in the red room than the blue. “The color red stimulated them,” she said, “and they thrived under its effects.”
And the subjects assigned to the plain, vanilla settings, of a style familiar to the vast majority of the corporate labor force? Deprived of any color, any splash of Matisse, they were disgruntled and did the poorest of all.