Meetings No 01
This is no ordinary meeting magazine.
Cover Story
Johan Johansson
encourages us to challenge our thought patterns.
Psychological Meetings
Meeting People
Gordon slowly opens the door just a little bit.
Ecological Breakfast
A great success.
Richard Gatarski
Gatarski Questions the Myth of Total Presence
Please turn on your mobile phones!
Shari Swan
Swan on New Ways of Working
and an ever present focus on the street.
Take a Break with Cottam
Excerpts from Mothers Pearls: 27 short autobiographical chapters of aha moments of realization.
Business Meetings Management
A five part masters programme.
Jonas Bodin
Meeting With Meaning
CSR in practice
Jan Rollof
On Creativity
and its impact on meetings.
Mind Check
The Significance of Colours
Tomas Dalström picks the brain of Karl Rydberg.
Business Intelligence
Four Years Before the London Olympics
What's on, Barbara Jamison, at visit London?
Per Hörberg
Hidden Agendas
Affecting meetings everywhere.
Meeting Architecture
Dr Elling Hamso an the most significant book ever.
Spread the Message
Nature's Ten Best Tips
To suddenly become green in your meeting concept is not as easy as it sounds.
Meetings Industry Research
Lund University conducts research into the meetings industry.
A way of communicating.
Roger Kellerman
A Buyers' and Meetings Planners' Magazine
Why Meetings International goes international.
New knowledge
Brain research
shows added value live events.
BTM World 2020
transitions to virtual.
post-pandemic momentum
Dubai Tourism forms Business Events Stakeholders committee,
host first meeting as industry resumes activity.
hotel news
Scandic expects
occupancy of 30-35 percent for September.
Covid developer
Scandic Hotels
launches the largest network of coworking spaces in the Nordic countries.
planned for 16-17 Sep
Update on GIAF
- New dates set for 5-6 November 2020.
Sands Expo and Convention Centre
is now a carbon neutral venue.
positive impact
The Hague webinar
celebrates partnerships and first anniversary of Ottawa MOU.
expanding network
ICCA Partners up
with Geneva International Associations Forum (GIAF).
Sponsored Content
Taiwan Ready to Reopen to the World
Over 80 events taking place in Taipei now.
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The Significance of Colours

The meeting industry cannot afford to rest on its laurels in mediocrity, it has to niche itself and focus on excellence. These are the words of Karl Ryberg, psychologist and architect, and specialist in how colours affect us. He runs a company in Stockholm called Monocrom that provides a colour consultancy service to the industrial, media and fashion sectors.

In what ways can sellers and buyers of meetings benefit from knowing how the brain functions?

“Choosing a room with the right colour scheme will enhance creativity, competitive spirit, swiftness, inner security, and much more. Wrong colours will do the opposite.”

Could you be more explicit?

“It’s a tale of two extremities. For example, the Lego head office in Denmark decided to use the Lego colours of red, blue, white, yellow, etc. But it was too overwhelming for their employees who couldn’t work there. Red causes muscular contraction and a faster heart rate. On the other side of the scale is white, white and white. I was engaged by a company that wanted a makeover of their workplace. Sick leave was very high due to the almost completely white colour scheme. When the white was complemented with a few bright colours, the sick leave fell appreciably.”

Red is the colour of blood. We register red in 2/100ths of a second and violet in 6/100ths.”

The standard decor in an advertising agency is white walls, white furniture, and in the meeting room a white superellipse table with white Myran chairs. Would the people there be more creative with brighter colours?

“Yes, but they have to know what they’re doing. Maximum and optimum are not the same things. A maximum of base colours is not optimal. And minimum and optimum are not the same things either. The agency’s minimal colour scheme is not optimal for the brain. It’s always about a reasonable use of colours.”

It sounds like the difference between a grey November day and a sunny day in July.

“It’s really that simple. Colours are visual vitamins, and sunlight is the best light we have. In November we need colour and light. Depressions increase at that time. Nature’s green foliage, particularly in spring, helps us to feel at ease.

Why do colours have such significance for us people?

“If the brain doesn’t receive colour and light it becomes depressed. This especially concerns the old reptile brain, which is the body’s largest hormone producer. It houses the pituitary gland, which affects the biological clock, appetite, sleep patterns, and a host of other functions. Colour and light are vital in this process.”

Colour and light?

“That which we perceive as colour is actually reflected light, thus the importance of choosing the right lighting. Cheap lighting gives washy colours. A certain amount of light is required, and of quality to bring the best out of the colours. It’s the luminance behind the colour that gives its effect. Light sends impulses via the eye to the hypothalamus and pineal gland to get the various hormonic systems working.”

How does my brain react when I enter a small meeting room or a large congress hall?

“The first thing your brain registers is light or darkness. We’re drawn to reasonable amounts of light, after which the brain looks for colours. Next comes gestalting. Here the brain registers faces, skin, objects, text and images, in that order. We notice living things quicker; people and plants before, for example, fixtures.”

Nature’s green foliage, particularly in spring, helps us to feel at ease.”

Which colours do we react quickest too?

“Red is the colour of blood. We register red in 2/100ths of a second and violet in 6/100ths. The larger the wavelength, the quicker the brain reacts.”

And the brain takes 25/100ths of a second to register three words in this text.

“They’re rapid processes and the brain quickly forms a notion as to whether it’s good or bad, pleasant or dreadful, indifferent or a total bore. It’s not certain that those sitting in a meeting room know why they feel negative vibes. It’s normally subconscious. But a good communicator would know what to do to create the optimal conditions for a meeting.”

Do you see a person who sales or buys meetings as a communicator?

“Yes, what otherwise? Their work is solely to create communication. I lecture a great deal and sit in a lot of meetings. It’s almost depressing to see the limited knowledge of the effect of colours on meetings participants.”

In the previous Swedish edition of Meetings International, Acoustician Lennart Tunemalm said that acoustics are not seen so are therewith not important. But one forgets that communication is auditory to the highest degree. Why do so many find it difficult to emanate from the brain?

“I often meet this resistance in the companies and advertising agencies I work with. But when I sit down and discuss it with them face to face they usually understand how important it is.”

What do you say?

“That colour and light underpin different behaviours. We are more verbal in yellow rooms; yellow makes us alert and attentive and we think more clearly. Green signals health and relaxation; it’s used by wellness companies and is the colour of the Swedish chemist’s logo. Green can be used in a reception or to create a more informal atmosphere. Blue is the colour of night; a time-out colour that signals rest. Blue has impacted the entire relax industry. It’s also the most popular colour in the world.”

I have heard that orange is good for creativity.

“It is, but orange walls are too heavy. You get the Lego effect that I mentioned earlier. Use different enhancers instead, like cushions, a single armchair or fabrics. Lime is a colour that really peps up. It’s my favourite colour; it gives the feeling of spring having arrived.”

How come lime green is so popular in hotel rooms and meeting rooms, and who decided that?

“Trendsetters meet to decide the latest colours in order to ensure that everybody in the business has a chance to prepare. Lime green broke through in 1997. Before that the name lime green didn’t exist in Swedish. We said lindblom green, pea green or poison green. Pre-1997, lime logos were unheard of, today it’s in the logos of quite a few well-known brands. You can also see cycle messengers and joggers in lime green.”

Orange is taken by the Netherlands football team and Ireland’s Protestants.”

What other trends are there?

“The rebirth of colours could be seen as a reaction to minimalism. Turquoise, violet, orange and lime have become our new trendy colours.

Which colours do we look at intuitively?

“Red, blue, green and yellow; loud colours attract most looks. Orange, violet, turquoise and lime attract fewer looks. But it’s also about the feelings that colours provoke. Today’s trendy colours are fresh and have a positive radiation.”

What role have colours played in the survival of the human race?

“When the first people looked for something edible, their brains searched for colours and shapes. Their eyes were drawn to loud colours and they navigated towards them. But not all colours were loud of course. There was a background colour that probably consisted of greyish slate and stone. The brain works best when there are contrasts. Colours have also played a part in the survival of plants. From the beginning plants had no flowers. They were green, and to entice insects they developed petals in various shapes and colours. They had to advertise in order to propagate, so you could say that flowers were the world’s first logotypes.”

Do women and men have the same colour vision?

“No, women can see ten million colours, men one million. This originates from the male of the species once having hunted at night. The darkness gave them protection and their prey was easier to catch as they slept. Males slept during the day while the females were out in the sun developing their colour vision.”

There are also cultural differences. In parts of Indonesia, yellow is the colour of mourning. An international congress in Sweden with delegates from Indonesia could therewith pose a problem.

”Mexicans would also react to the yellow. In Muslim countries blue is the colour of mourning. Our cultural codes clash, which is something we should consider.”

How should I act as a meeting planner?

“You must be historically and culturally aware. Colours provoke feelings, usually on a subconscious level. Look upon it as archaeological: at the bottom is our reptile brain followed by national culture, fashion and trends. Our old colours are loaded with symbolism. They’re associated with political parties, religious groups, liberation movements and terrorist groups, etc. It’s no coincidence that the UN flag is sky blue and white and their tanks harmless white. Lime and other fashionable colours could offer a solution to this problem, even if orange is taken by the Netherlands football team and Ireland’s Protestants.”

You are a trained architect. What is the awareness of the influence of colour among your colleagues?

“Poor. Building projects hardly ever employ a specialist on the effect of colour on the human brain. Their colour schemes centre around design. But we all have the same brain that is activated by colours.”

In the meeting industry we talk about market shares and attracting large congresses to Sweden. How should those who succeed reason?

“Colours are a natural part of our lives and they affect us whether we like it or not, and in all contexts. A modern company cannot afford to neglect that. The meeting industry cannot afford to rest on its laurels in mediocrity, it has to niche itself and focus on excellence.”