Color is the most expressive and personal decision a client must make. And today there are more colors used in interiors than at any time in history. Whereas 10 years ago customers may have opted for a neutral, safe color scheme, the current color trends are filled with bold colors—not necessarily bright colors, although these are also seen, but strong colors that make a statement in a portion of a room and are used in high contrast with surroundings. These strong colors are the direct result of the mindset of the populus in general.
We seem to have weathered some pretty scary times in the recent
past and are now feeling a need to relieve our worried minds, put
away September 11 and live life again. This is not to say that we
have become a falsely secure society. Rather, it is human nature
to allow the pendulum to swing back. We can only feel afraid for
so long, then we, as fashion-setting Americans, try very hard to
return to our indomitable, optimistic spirited attitude.
Optimism is a great word for rooms with colors that leap off the
pages of this article. They speak of happy times, not gloomy; of
cheerfulness and enthusiasm; of the good old American “can-do”
attitude. They speak of confidence and hope for the future. They
also are slightly indulging—some dramatically so, others only
dipping into the pool of bold-color luxury.
And as Americans we are not alone. Strong color and contrast are
also very European now, and have been for several years. Europeans
tend to experiment more than Americans with colors that are unique
or acrid. They are less concerned with “perfection” and
more inclined toward innovation. Europeans often place strident
colors next to one another.
In recent years America has often followed in the footsteps of European
styles. The use of citrus yellow is one example of a European trend,
especially when combined with touches of blue in accessories or
rugs. It also has an Oriental feng shui bent, which brings good
environmental energy or chi (chee) into the environment. Yellow
is perky and hopeful, spring-like and energetic.
Contemporary trends in European color, however, show a new direction
away from the acrid colors and toward richness. Earlier this year
in Paris the Maison & Objet show highlighted a strong return
to color in interiors. As is the most dramatic and tasteful background
to bold color, black and white was a key theme throughout the show.
One furniture company, Modénature, displayed its entire furniture
range upholstered in black and white accessorized with silver. Print
styles ranged from new small-scale geometrics up to large-scale
stenciled motifs. Bi-color floral and botanical patterns also were
still very strong.
Bold color is highly satisfying to the psyche. It is most appealing
in areas where the occupant sees the color occasionally, or turns
his eye and attention to it often, but is not exposed to it on a
minute-by-minute basis, which makes it lose its effectiveness. One
color now seen in bold form is a rich, royal purple. This heavy-duty
color suggest power, richness, elegance, strength and royalty.
CUE FROM THE APPAREL FASHION WORLD
Apparel fashion always leads interiors fashion because what we wear
successfully we eventually love living around also. Because the
apparel market literally changes on a daily basis, the interiors
market must lag behind so there will be time to assess which colors
have staying power and then to manufacture, sample and distribute
the products or fabrics for a duration of at least one year.
The London-based e-newsletter, WGSN Daily, which focuses mostly
on apparel fashion, reported on the color trends it saw in New York
during the recent autumn/winter 2004-2005 apparel fashions shows:
• Teal: rich teal-toned blues as designers look to the
cooler end of the spectrum. Saturated and intense from casual to
• Emerald green: rich, jewel-like intensity set for
next winter. Full spectrum from bright emerald to shades of jade.
Works alongside sapphire and teal.
• True blue: intense saturated sapphire blues.
• Autumn fruits: pumpkin, autumnal orange, bright carrot,
• Purple: jewel-like, vivid from true papal (royal,
as in the robes of the Roman Catholic pope) to smoky amethysts.
• Evening gray: diffused, soft, smoky gray from ethereal
vapor to atmospheric storm cloud.
Other trends include these:
• Pieced and color blocked fabrics: almost architectural in
construction with color blocks pieced together in contrasting panels.
• Graphic inlays.
• Etched seams.
• Traditional tweeds make a comeback—neat, tailored.
All of these trends bode well for interior applications. In fact,
some are already seen because they are considered “classics.”
BOLD COLOR YEAR ROUND
The color forecast above is a fall/winter forecast. In apparel as
well as interiors, it holds true that fall and winter colors are
majestic, deep, rich, fulfilling or satisfying. While fall or autumn
colors are set on a neutral background, colors of winter are often
more stark, possibly with a black and white background as seen at
the Maison & Objets show.
In the interior designed by Jamie Drake, a professional associate
of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), the eye-popping
use of yellow upholstery and accents coupled with the vivid blue
of the draperies suggests the strong contrast seen in winter as
a flash of bright against an otherwise cold landscape. The result
is not only dramatic, but thrilling color.
Colors that remind us of spring and summer are “cleaner”
or less complex. They seem bright without richness, are unabashadly
bold and cheerful. They are inspired by the freshness of flowers
that announce the coming of warm weather. In the bedroom photo,
happiness is evoked by a warm spring day where colors are emerging,
encouraging the occupant to jump out of bed and don sailing attire.
Color is a great motivator and influencer of thought and action.
Knowing that these two families of color simulate color as seen
in nature, the design professional can use color confidently in
an interior to create a space that “feels” like a particular
J. Nielson, Allied ASID, WCAA, is assistant professor of design at
Brigham Young University. She has authored several books including
Window Treatments, Understanding Fabrics and Interiors: An Introduction,
3rd Ed. Nielson is a regular
correspondent for Draperies & Window Coverings addressing the areas of fashion,
education and merchandising.