On December 10, Pantone -- possibly the world's foremost authority on color -- announced that the hue of 2008 is PANTONE 18-3943 Blue Iris. Subsequently, design journals, fashion reports and style sections are a-buzz with talk of blues and purples, and what's to become of color in the next 12 months.
Never before have I been so aware of the color in my environment. I have a Google Alert rigged up so that whenever the term "color trend" is mentioned in an online article or blog, a link to it arrives in my inbox. This simple term covers everything from haute couture to interior design to automobile paint. When I go to a retail store, instead of simply accepting what I find, I wonder why my color options are what they are; what factor in society, in the economy, in our psyche as a whole leads to the colors placed in front of me?
Color is not simply the whim or the random decision of a company executive. The colors that emerge each year on retail shelves and showroom floors have been exhaustively researched and studied, often years in advance. Indeed, companies will often have color and design experts (like Wear-Dated's very own Ann Hurley) on staff who are associated with organizations such as the Color Marketing Group, an international association of color designers. According to the group's Web site, "CMG’s major focus is to identify the direction of color and design trends. CMG members then 'translate' that information into salable colors for manufactured products." In other words, a great many people all over the world contribute their time, energy and research into color forcasts each year.
This year, CMG predicts four major trends in color for 2008: very natural, very pure colors that are undyed and look "green;" various shades of blue that reflect both environmentalism and trust in difficult economic times; metallics, echoing this age of technology in which we live; and an infusion of ethnic flavor. Other expert sources suggest similar trending patterns, especially the green trend in design. HGTV.com says that "huetrals" weathered shades inspired by nature, are becoming more popular. "Think shades inspired by nature or that have been weathered and faded. Dusty colors, pale colors—nature as seen through a fog. This is all good news for those of us who’re a bit freaked out by color and how to use it. These toned-down hues are gentle and forgiving."
Interestingly, these color trends permeate our society, influencing fashion first, then home decor and retail. They then trickle down to even the automobile industry. In a December news release, DuPont quotes a color expert from Pantone about the latest in hot car colors. "'We are not surprised to see a proliferation of white/white pearl in DuPont's report this year,' said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute and author of Color: Messages and Meanings.
"'It follows the global trends in home furnishings, fashion, consumer products and industrial design where we're seeing a return to white as a clarifying agent before change, a color of purity and minimalism,' Eiseman said. 'White also is considered a fashion statement. The car you drive is a fashion statement, and consumer preferences for white agree. White pearl itself is a combination of many colors, allowing an ability to change, reflecting, in effect, layers of white.'"
Color takes its cue (hue?) from many factors, including global outlook, economy and the general climate. For example, right now, the economy is down, so people are drawn to more soothing, natural colors. Green is big, so again, those naturals keep appearing. And the Olympics in Beijing this summer are expected to bring in the rich, saturated colors from the other side of the world.
In your own home, how do you use color? Does it appear in your carpet? Do the trends found in the community around you pop up in your living room or kitchen? Keep in mind that color is far more than just the objects in the here and now. Color is both history and prediction, as well as a strange representation of who we are as a culture.
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