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Neurodiversity and Colour

In ‘Designing for Neurodiversity’ our team at PLP Labs, with Centric Lab, explored how the design of offices have a significant impact on the physical and mental health their occupants.

Particularly focusing on the impacts on the neurodiversity community, our work investigates different design decisions that can improve an individual’s ability to feel comfortable and perform within an office environment. Not addressing these issues can cause debilitating effects on people, including rapid burnout and long-term exclusion from employment. At the same time, the actual cost of implementing inclusive design strategies can be far cheaper than the costs of absenteeism to a business. This can include providing spaces to calm oneself after a commute, offering secondary less-stimulating entrances, and choosing muted colours within the office.

In my interview (below) with Axalta, I particularly looked at the role of colour within this wider piece of work, such as what types of colours may be best to mitigate sensory overload for example and how colours can aid navigation through a building. On the other hand, I also speak about how colours can themselves be debilitating, including vibrant patterns that can cause excessive visual noise.

It’s vital that we get this right. The rate of unemployment within the neurodiverse community is disproportionately high. This community is excluded from the workforce in part due to spaces that are disabling, despite the solutions themselves often being very achievable and affordable. Ultimately, the main lesson to take away is that we are all unique and respond differently to different settings, especially within the neurodiverse community. Therefore, the key to designing for neurodiversity is to design-in flexibility and to include the neurodiverse individuals in the process.

Savannah Willits, Team Lead, PLP Labs

“Employment is one of the key routes to accessing income, which, in turn, is the pathway to many wellbeing factors, such as healthcare, self-care, nourishment, housing, mobility and security. Therefore, it is imperative that, as a society, we create an ecosystem that supports people through the employment life cycle.”