Thursday 20 October

1.00pm to 3.00pm SA | 1.30pm to 3.30pm TAS, VIC, ACT. NSW | 10.30am to 12.30pm WA | 12.00pm to 2.00pm NT | 12.30pm to 2.30pm QLD


CEOs, designers, architects, aged care facility managers, and clinical and non-clinical staff interested in colour design in health care

PRESENTER: Zena O’Connor from Design Research Associates


Effective colour design in healthcare, aged care and dementia care has moved beyond aesthetics. In the past, colour design strategies focused on creating environments that were engaging, harmonious and practical, either in relation to people living in or visiting healthcare environments but more often in relation to key stakeholders or decision-makers.

While colour design strategies continue to focus on encouraging engagement, this is now just a starting point. In healthcare, aged care and dementia care, evidence-based colour design strategies help to achieve key aims: (1) Address the variable vision capacity and visual challenges experienced by the population in general and in particular older people and people living with dementia. (2) Enhance environmental visual literacy and help improve orientation, wayfinding, and the safe operation of daily activities. (3) Ensure that colour design strategies are underpinned by the imperatives of inclusivity, diversity and user centred involvement in decision-making and respect for all people using healthcare environments and especially older people and people living with dementia.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Understand and identify the ways in which attributes of colour (hue, tonal value and saturation) can be applied to improve environmental visual literacy
  • Understand and identify how colour contrast can enhance environmental visual literacy and improve orientation and wayfinding in the built environment
  • Understand the ways in which colour contrast can be used to address the needs of people with declining visual and cognitive ability
  • Examine key colour design strategies that are optimal for healthcare, aged care and dementia care

Key Topics:

  • The mechanics of visual perception
  • Attribute of colour
  • Visual perception and the role of colour contrast
  • Environmental visual literacy Orientation and wayfinding
  • Engagement and wellbeing
  • Colour design for dementia care Research
  • References and links

    Presented by:

    Zena O’Connor is one of a handful of people whose PhD research investigated responses to colour in the built environment. An evidence-based research consultant, Zena established Design Research Associates in 2006 and the Colour Collective in 2017.

    A designer by training, Zena is an evidence-based research and colour consultant. She provides insight, validation and colour strategies for design, the built environment, branding and advertising. In addition, Zena’s consultancy projects include colour/contrast strategies to improve environmental visual literacy for healthcare and aged care projects; colour interventions in the urban and built environment; AI and data visualization; branding, logo design, product and packaging design.

    Clients include Arts Health Institute, Auckland District Health Board, Auckland City Hospital, Bupa (NZ), Macquarie University, New Zealand Health Design Council, SBS Television, Sydney Design School, University of Sydney, University of NSW and numerous other clients.

    The content of this seminar is linked to the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia (AACA) National Standard of Competency for Architects (2015 edition).

    To register online, please click the Eventbrite link below (charges apply) or download the PDF document, and email to