The forecast palettes also are useful to design professionals who can anticipate and integrate the new colors in their projects and proposals. In this way, they keep a fresh, exciting direction to their artistic work.
In the September issue of Draperies & Window Coverings, we'll explore the factors that guide the customer's decision to buy a particular color or group of colors, and how a professional's knowledge of color trends can help meet their needs. Here, we will explore the terms, trends and the specific palettes from Color Marketing Group.
The CMG color consultants and experts who present their individual forecasts and then discuss and negotiate to agree on a master palette, must be knowledgeable about political and social developments around the world, the impact of specific cultures as they influence social movements, major events, even environmental awareness. They must be culturally, politically and socially literate. (For more on how CMG forecasts colors, see Special Report) Influencing factors for the 1999 color palette include:
• The environment. Saving the earth for future generations is not faddish thinking. It is necessity for survival. Thinking conservation is politically correct-and it feels right.
• Time constraints. With so many demands pulling on us today, we focus on enjoying the limited but quality time that is ours in our own environments.
• Demographic influence. With the major immigration of Hispanics and Asians, we see internal population shifts within the United States. These cultures bring spice and intensity to the color palette, and richness from their historic heritages, as well.
• Human touch. Colors taken directly from the human body: flesh tones of many backgrounds, but also the colors of eyes, hair and even the colors that affect our emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. And whether it be metaphysics, belief in angels, clanning or traditional religion, there is a marked increase in spiritualism.
• Events. The 2000 Summer Olympics in Australia has turned our attention to the Outback, and the wonders of "down under."
There is a great deal of psychology behind the forecast. Forecasters must understand their audience: the public who will buy the products. This requires a sound understanding of color psychology, of where colors have been and how each hue in each family of colors has historically been accepted, and how they are now viewed. Knowing this makes it possible to predict what the response likely will be in the next few years based on a color's track record.
What makes a forecast color successful depends on complex issues such as the lifestyles, pressures, attitudes and values of customers. The impact of technology is yet another factor. For example, the computer screen has influenced a younger generation of upscale clients who are so used to the colors on their monitors that choosing exciting colors in their environment is a natural and comfortable choice.
The fact that major cities in developed nations (such as New York City, Paris, Tokyo) all see similar color development also indicates that trends in consumer color choices are somewhat global. There is, however, a marked contrast between industrial and developing countries.
The Color Cycle
There are no "new" colors (just new names for old colors) and there is no such thing as a "bad" or "ugly" color (just colors that are out-of-style or used with poor judgment). With these two facts in mind, it is logical that colors are cyclical in popularity. For example, those who were teens during the 1960s and '70s often look at amazement at today's teens and their fashion choices. The more mature client often thinks, "Been there. Done that." But today's teens did not live through the psychedelic era and grow up the way the Baby Boomers did (or at least they think they did), so their perspective is entirely different.
This illustrates two pivotal points of color forecasting and marketing: Colors have about a 20-year cycle, and colors often find a niche market. The forecast palette takes this into account, giving four major directions, which historically are:
1. Deep or dark colors
2. Light or pale colors
Thus there are opportunities to develop products and interior color schemes that can fit any niche, satisfy any market or customer.
Some hues have a longer cycle on the market than others. For example, it seems mauve was around for years and years. Certainly the high level of customer acceptance was a key factor. In a seminar I attended given by Ken Charbonneau of Benjamin Moore paints, and a member of both CMG and CAUS, he quipped that he had been "mauved-to-death" in the past, then felt he was being "tealed-to-death" in hotels and public interiors during his travels.
Another hanger-on was "country blue." These three colors, mauve, teal and warm grayed blue, are livable colors. People enjoyed them. Many clients still enjoy them. As a designer, we usually get tired of colors that hang on too long, no matter how livable they are. On the other hand, colors that are very bright typically have a shorter life cycle, but are lively and fun to work with.
Trends are tendencies or directions in color use. Some of the current trends include these:
• There is a crossover or homogenization of residential and contract colors; either making an office look more like a home, or a home look more like an office. Technology has blurred the boundaries, and not just with computer and communication technology, but with fabrics that meet contract codes that look residential. The emergence of the "open collar worker"-people who can be equally productive in a comfortable setting in their home office-has blurred the clear edges of what it used to mean by being or looking professional.
• There are colors that are on the edge, move or are in between. These colors are flexible, complex colors such as golds that double as greens or brown and browns with hints of purple.
• Technology is having an impact on colors with special effects, such as flocking or pearlized finishes, giving the color a depth or dimension and an iridescent quality.
• Regional influences in color are strengthening. This already is being seen across Europe. It is a "sticking-to-roots" trend of being proud of your heritage and showing it with traditional colors.
• Color directions are not revolutionary (with dramatic changes) but evolutionary. This is seen, for example, in the moving colors, browns becoming lighter (grayed browns) and blues and greens becoming grayer, also.
1999 Contract Palette
The 1999 CMG contract palette is warm, comfortable and calming with cleaner, yet more complex colors. Some major influences on the palette include:
• Constructed colors and finishes developed through layering, textures, washes and patinas.
• Ethnic interests, particularly Asian and Latin.
• Water's impact on the palette, as seen through aquatic colors.
• The back-to-the-future impact of retro styles from the '30s, '40s and '50s.
• The need for colors to have versatility and longevity in the marketplace.
• Chameleon colors that change.
• The melding of the consumer and contract palettes as the office and home become one.
• The impact of technology on colors themselves and by shortening the development cycle.
Neutrals will remain strong and be somewhat darker, cleaner and complex, but not gray. Red's influence is dominant, while yellow undertones are diminished slightly. Blue is a key player for 1999, mid-range and red-toned. Greens are field greens, strong but not harsh. Purple is redder, but with less impact here.
The 1999 Contract Color Directions from Color Marketing Group:
Rose Tattoo: The new coral; the shifting of red off-center-too important to ignore.
Orange A-peel: A citrus trend, clean and usable as an accent or attention-getter. A subdued orange, earth-inspired but techno-connected.
Golden Koi: A bridge between orange and gold with a techno-bright, Latin-influence.
Winter Wheat: Green's influence on gold; a good neutral with wood. It is upscale, gilded and artesian-influenced.
Back to the Fuchsia: Rich, regal, opulent blued-red that complements neutrals, blues and greens.
Vintage Plum: A complex color, a melding of brown and purple into a mid-tone with chameleon properties.
Volcanic Ash: A sophisticated rich gray-brown; a great alternative to black.
Easily Sueded: A soft-colored neutral, an earth-inspired transition brown, smooth like coffee with cream.
Blue Moon: A watercolor blue, tranquil and softened, but not too sweet. A twinkle of lavender in a pool of pale blue.
Tree Top: An optimistic green; reminiscent of new growth, as green takes a turn toward yellow.
Consumer Products, 1999
Color Marketing Group Co-chairpersons for the Consumer Products Directions Committee, Michelle Lamb and Susan Iverson, reveal that by 1999 the baton will have passed from green to blue as the dominant influence of color. Red will remain a focus of interest, resulting in a lot of blues and purples.
CMG's 12 Forecast Colors:
Spa Blue: Acknowledge water as the source of life with this clean, clear, serene blue that reminds us of the need for cleansing our body, mind and soul.
Mystical Purple: An ethereal and soothing walk toward blue; part of the purple range that will expand in the coming two years.
Par Four Green: This shows the first hint of blue entering green once again.
Seagrass Yellow: This represents the importance of green on yellows. It is a complex color that can act as a neutral, a new yellow, or a new green.
Blue Planet: Three quarters of our planet is covered by water. This hue shows the blue of our planet as seen from space.
Freesia Purple: One of a group of new purples that will play a key role in the palette.
Mineral Gray: This is a light, cool gray with a touch of green.
Clearwater Blue: A transitional color to take us from turquoise and teal into a more water-inspired blue.
Pure Purple: A true gender-neutral color that unifies not only male and female elements within us, but various categories of product.
Regal Purple: There is still more to be said about purple. This time, it acts as a bridge to blue.
Cherry Fudge: A rich, full-bodied red that is touched with brown. This color is inspired by ethnic influences from around the world.
Alexis Blue: A revisited classic that is blue with a slight green cast.
Basic Color Forecast Terms
Emerging colors: those expected to appear and become mainstream in the next 18 months.
Forecast colors: those expected to become viable from 19 months to the next 36 months.
Ascending colors: those introduced colors that are gaining in popularity.
Apexing colors: hues at the height of their acceptance.
Descending colors: those having seen their heyday, but still are on the market and producing sales.
Clear or clean colors: pure pigment colors or mixes without the addition of neutrals, black, brown or gray. Their identity is obvious and clear, and they tend to be a bit on the cool undertone side.
Dirty colors: colors that are neutralized, grayed, browned or blackened.
Complex colors: colors mixed with others where the undertones change or influence the identity of the color.
Karla J. Nielson, Allied ASID, WCAA, is assistant professor of design at Brigham Young University. She is a practicing interior designer and has authored several books including Window Treatments and Understanding Fabrics. Nielson is a regular correspondent for Draperies & Window Coverings addressing the areas of fashion, education and merchandising.