The Color that Improve Working Culture in Café Malaysia

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Nowadays, ASEAN café market is showing the potentials by accelerating growth for local and oversea café. According to a research data, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam had make up about 6.5 million USD (MUSD) market size which had increase 8% in 2014 (Phuong Anh, 2016).

However, Malaysia has the highest consumption levels compare to others due to the highest urbanization rate which is 73% and followed by Indonesia which is 52% (Phuong Anh, 2016). Therefore, since Malaysians are more exposed to cafes hence the market for café is high.

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As there is too competitive in café industry, to run a successful café in Malaysia does not only depends on the food and beverage whereas the ambience of the café is plays an important role to maintain or to increase it’s market. The factors that affect the ambience are interior color scheme, lighting, space and so forth. Unlike those fast food restaurants, café is a place for influential thinkers to gather and learn from each other. For those students and mobile workers, their requirements are more to concentration and productivity (McCunn, 2014).

Mobile work places are non-traditional work settings including cafes, parks, airport lounges and other public and semi-public places. In recent years, such locations have become important work places for mobile professionals, in particular, among remote workers, telecommuters, self-employed and freelance workers, and entrepreneurs (Hislop, 2008). According to expert (Barker-Whittle, 2014), green, orange and blue are the most effective for concentration and productivity which required by those students and mobile workers but most of the interior color scheme in Malaysia’s cafés are white and black. On the basis of color psychology, different colors will create different mood and feeling. As the interior environment of a café is one of the issues of customers preferences, the selection of color scheme of the interior is very crucial.

Each color has a different wavelength and each of them affect us physically and mentally in a different way. The selection of color is very important as it create illusions, inspires the emotions and affect the atmosphere or mood in any place (Barker-Whittle, 2014). Even the same color, the different of color shade is able to create a different effect.

In Western culture, white is often associated with weddings, hospitals and angels. It is usually used to represent a sense of purity, cleanliness and peacefulness (Cherry, 2018). According to color psychology, white is bright and create a sense of space or highlights. Hence, many designers often use white for room in order to make it looks larger and more spacious. White is also a blank slate that symbolizes a new beginning. However, white also bring some negative effect which make the space looks empty and boring. But in Feng Shui, white is a powerful color as it represents a system in an arranged environment to create harmony (Cherry, 2018). Thus, researchers suggest that white is great for kitchens, living rooms, bathrooms and bedrooms (Cherry, 2018). Other than residentials, there are a lot of cafés using white as the major interior color scheme as well.

On the other hand, the psychological effects of black related with evil, mourning and death. In interior design theory, black used in small amounts with contrasting, complementary colors. Normally, people avoid using black in large quantities as it can seem oppressive (Olesen, n.d.). Therefore, there are some people describe black as a powerful color as black is commonly seen in luxury vehicles. Black is often used in fashion due to its slimming quality. In Feng Shui theory, black is associated with water element and evokes mystery and calm (Cherry, 2018). The right amount of it can create a bold aspect and timeless elegance to a room. Beside white, black can be often seen as a color used in cafes in Malaysia.

Red in color psychology is associated with energy and aggression. Red has effect on physiological state as it increases our heart rate and makes our breathing faster. It is stimulating to human’s appetite and it is a great color to use for any product associated with food and its services, such as restaurants and take-away business. Red is very eye-catching that can help to draw attention to a single element as this color is associated with dominance as well. A research concludes that people who wear red has a better chance to win a physical contest than others (Mehta, 2014). According to an expert Ph.D. Vinita Mehta, red can affect the performance on achievement because it associated with the threat of failure and can trigger avoidance (Mehta, 2014). Even with just a flash of red seen by a person before a test, is able to affect that person to do mistakes or failures (Mehta, 2014).

Purple is the mixture of soothing, calm blue with boisterous, energetic red (Weber, 2015). It works very well with other colors. For example, it can pair up with other jewel tones like emerald green or even with light, complementary hues like beige, baby pink or yellow as well. It is an ideal color to create a feminine space (Olesen, n.d.). Purple in darker values like eggplant is rich, dramatic and sophisticated which is associated with luxury and creativity. According to the data, a 75 percent of small children choose purple over other colors (Weber, 2015). As a secondary color, it gives a scheme of depth as well. While the lighter values of purple like lavender and lilac bring the same restful quality to a space but without the risk of feeling chilly (Mihai, 2015). Purple is also associated with royalty, high honor such as the purpleheart awarded American soldier wounded or killed in war (Weber, 2015).

As different colors create different psychology, there are some colors that help to improve concentration and productivity. The top three colors that recommended by researcher are green, orange and blue. As we known that green is the natural color, it has low wavelength and It also promotes restfulness and calm (Gutierrez, 2016). Therefore, green helps in long-term focusing and improves efficiency. Dr. Kate Lee who examined 150 university students had a study as an evidence. The students were given a task that not to press keys when the number three appeared on the screen. Before that, they were given 40 seconds break to view a city rooftop scene. After the break, students who look at the green rooftop made only few errors and have better concentration compared to the students who looked at the concrete rooftop. The researchers concluded that the green roof provided a restorative experience that boosted the mental resources which control the students’ attention (Calligeros, 2015).

When it comes to the color orange, we know that it combined red and yellow. As red represent energy, yellow represent happiness and cheerfulness, orange is a mood-lifting color and make people feel welcoming. Some theorists argue that orange increases the oxygen that supply to the brain and stimulating mental activity while simultaneously loosening peoples’ inhibitions (Gutierrez, 2016). Orange can inspire people to be active and increasing the sense of competition. as It will also make people feel stronger from a physical point of view. Due to orange is an extrovert color, it makes people forget about the inhibitions and make them want to show their strengths and ideas. Other than above, orange is also a social color that making people open up a communication easily (Zborowska, 2018). Although orange help to focus and promote organization, we still need to concern about the brightness and saturation of it. Looking to the experts, color psychologist Angela Wright said that bright orange hues stimulate while low saturation is more soothing (Gutierrez, 2016).

Most of the people think that blue is carrying the image of sadness. This is because blue can affect the blood pressure become lower and slower down the heart rate (Gutierrez, 2016). Therefore, according to the experts, color psychologists suggested that using blue but adding others color for highlighting purpose (Gutierrez, 2016). Even so, it can also become a positive effect for creating a relaxing atmosphere. In fact, there are researches shown that a blue environment will increase the productivity for those people with highly intellectual work that require high cognitive load such as programmers and academics (Gutierrez, 2016). An experiment is done by researchers who tracked more than 600 participants performance on six cognitive tasks that required detail-orientation and creativity. The experiments were conducted on computers with a screen of red, blue or white. The results were red boosted performance on those detail-oriented tasks such as memory retrieval and proofreading by as much as 31% compared to blue. However, for those creative tasks like brainstorming, blue environmental cues prompted those participants to produce twice as many creative outputs as when under the red color condition (Zhu,2019).

Case study about different interior color scheme of café is done as an evidence in order to support the research above. White which is the common interior color scheme of café, purple and blue which suggested by researcher that can improve concentration and productivity are selected for the case study.

Followed by Craft Origin with major interior color of white which has 29% of customers are doing work. Most of them are mobile workers and some of them are having discussion. The least percentage of people doing work among these cafés is Posh Coffee Roastery which have the major interior color of purple. Beside of doing work in the café, people are more chit-chatting with their friends and families.

According to the observation above, the theory which state that blue will help to increase concentration and productivity was justified. This is because the blue interior café The Depot by JWC has the highest percentage of people doing work, including discussion, writing, reading and with laptop. As the environment make them feel productive and able to concentrate, they prefer to do work here. Moreover, as white make the space looks larger and spacious, people will not feel oppress to do work at the café. However, white also make people feel empty and boring. Therefore, the amount of people doing work at Craft Origin is more than Posh Coffee Roastery nut it still consider less compared to The Depot by JWC. The durations of staying are short too. Last but not least, even though purple associate with creativity, but it is more affective to children (Weber, 2015). Thus, there is less people doing work at this purple environment which create the luxury ambience. However, even the theory of blue help to increase concentration and productivity is justified, there is still 50% of customers are not doing work.

Even though they came in the group, they were eating and chit-chatting together instead of having discussion. Hence, other than color which will affect the ambience, there is also other factors that will affect people working culture and preference. For example, the furniture, space and lighting. If the furniture of the café are sofa seats, it is not suitable for people to do work. The furniture ergonomics may also affect the preference of doing work. If the space of the café is too narrow, people will feel oppressive to do work here and it also will make the space crowded. Lighting is also important for concentration as well. As a conclusion, further research should be done in order to figure out the major factor in a café that affect working culture in Malaysia.

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