Colour my world

 Melbourne’s Polly bar and restaurant uses rich, dark colours to entice customers.

Melbourne’s Polly bar and restaurant uses rich, dark colours to entice customers.

Cool greens and blues are appetite killers, while deep reds help bring out the gourmand in all of us. Nicole Azzopardi discovers why choosing the right colour scheme is so important.

Presentation, they say, is the first bite, but the psychological impact of colour and design can stretch much further than a perfectly presented meal.

Director of Sydney’s International School of Colour and Design Prue Royle believes colour can either make a person want to sit down to a luxurious three-course meal or race through their main, skipping dessert in favour of curling up in their lounge room.

“Intimacy and a feeling of safety and containment allow free thought and sharing of food and drinks,” Royle said. “Social activity is a combination of all of these elements. Happy, safe and comfortable people eat and drink more.

“This is why a lot of minimalist restaurants did not succeed. The shiny surfaces created too much noise. The plain white walls were too bare. People left after the main course to return to a comfy home.”

According to Royle, cool greens and blues create cold moods that do not stimulate appetite or conversation, and they run the risk of appearing eerie or ghostly in a space.

However, warmer schemes and even warm neutrals can induce a feeling of comfort and thus a relaxed attitude, leading to social interaction—eating and drinking.

“Deep reds and terracotta plus burgundy, forest green and rich aubergines give a feeling of intimacy and can induce hunger if people feel good,” Royle said.

“These are the colours used in the old dining rooms of an earlier era, and the lighting could be dimmed or highlighted to affect the mood of the room.”

Texture also works to enhance a feeling of comfort, she said.

“The sooner minimalist cafes add rugs and textured surfaces to their shiny interiors, the more clients they will gain.”

Enzo Pollifroni of Melbourne bar/restaurant/function centre Polly knows a thing or two about creating intimacy.

His Baroque Fitzroy hideout is plump with deep red velvet curtains, Rococo lounges, rich Persian rugs and Renaissance paintings.

“It’s a sexy place. We chose a lot of dusky pinks, reds and racing greens and combined those with leather,” he said.

“I tried to create an ocean liner, Moulin Rouge-type feeling.

“We wanted customers to feel comfortable and have that warm feeling—although it does backfire on us during the hot nights. Polly, because of its colours, is definitely a winter place.”

During summer Pollifroni combats the colour issue by scattering more greenery around the bar.

Brass statues become the bearers of pot plants and the bar takes on large lily arrangements. “We try to get a fresher, lighter effect,” he said.

“It’s very important to create a mood. If we didn’t do the little touches for summer we would probably have too warm a feeling in there.”

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