Architecture & Design

Light attracts colour

Colour Design Light

The desire for light and colour is one of the strongest emotional human needs. Light and colour belong together; there is no colour without light. Colour is a specific form of light: therefore we provide illuminating information in our latest Office.Info on the topic of "Bene Spectrum".

"Colours are the children of light."
Johann Wolfgang v. Goethe

Light is a prerequisite for colour. Adequate lighting at the office is essential for our well-being. 

The phenomenon of light

Light is made up of electromagnetic waves that are perceived differently and that vary according to their wavelengths. Light is only a minor aspect of this phenomenon. Our most important source of light is the sun, while only one per cent of the electromagnetic spectrum of the sun is that what we refer to as light. Namely the range from ca. 380 to 720 nanometres.

Other frequencies include for instance gamma rays that are extremely short, x-rays and radar rays with medium wavelengths and radio waves with long wavelength.
White sunlight consists of all colours from red to purple. It only turns into colour after it is separated into individual frequencies.

Like the sun and the moon – primary light sources and reflectors

Our most important light source, the sun, is a primary light source. An object that generates visible electromagnetic rays. Daylight and blue sky are primarily diffuse sun light that is generated by the earth atmosphere. The moon on the other hand is a reflector, an object that requires a primary light source (such as the sun) to emit light.

The colour of light – primary light sources 

The human eye perceives the colour of light when a light source – either an artificial primary light source such as a light bulb or the sun – emits light at various wavelengths. The primary colours are red, green and blue. Combination colours are generated by mixing multiple wavelengths. White light is the result of mixing red, green and blue. White light dispersed by a prism generates the colours of the optical spectrum.

Colour of objects – Reflectors

The colour of objects is generated when an object reflects only certain wavelengths of the incident illumination, while absorbing others. Colours are not produced when there is no light and thus nothing is reflected. When all light components are absorbed – that is when there is no light present – everything appears dark.

The colour of the reflecting object depends on the incident illumination. Red light creates a red-black contrast – although the objects appear different when white light is present. Thus, the colour of artificial primary light sources determines the room ambience.

Colour perception

The perception of colour depends on the presence of light. Subjective colour perception is the result of colour processing by the human visual system. In order to perceive light or colour, first light reaches the retina of the eye. The photoreceptor cells there are responsible for colour vision and the perception of light and dark contrasts. From the retina the impulses are transmitted along the optic tracts to the visual cortex located in the back of the brain and to various brain regions to be processed further for colour perception.

Colour sensation 

Frequencies of light and energy are not only perceived with the eyes, they are actually felt by the entire body, particularly through the skin. This physical stimulus is transformed into nerve impulses inside the cells that are transmitted to the brain, where they trigger reactions that influence our well-being. These reactions are comparable to the effect that we experience when listening to music. Such sensations explain also why blind individuals and blindfolded people are able to sense colours.


Nicole Schemerl-Streben