Color Trend Forecast

By Josette Buisson | April 3, 2007

Today’s color trends are being influenced by many factors including culture, environmental issues and the rapid advancement of technology.

Today's design and color trends are being driven by various influences from culture to technology to environmental issues. When discussing design trends culture is an important factor and the Internet has granted everyone access to cultures across the globe, allowing us to see and absorb the influence of many different design styles.

The "green" movement is another area that is having a huge impact. While green products are still considered luxuries by average standards, more and more consumers today are willing to spend extra dollars to ensure the products they are purchasing are environmentally friendly, from paint to automobiles, and jeans to kitchen flooring.

As recently as two years ago, trying to find beauty in green products could prove a difficult task. However, the designers of the world have stepped up to the sustainability challenge and today there are hundreds of green items to choose from. No longer is it necessary to compromise quality or beauty to be green.

The rapidly changing technology sector is also influencing design trends. In order for a technology to be commercially successful it must be joined by innovative color and design concepts in order for it to gain popularity.

Customization and personalization are other key factors influencing design and color trends. It is common now for products to be available in multiple colors and patterns. There are even some products that are being co-created with their customers, such as snowboards and M&Ms candy. In terms of personalized technology, the iPod has allowed the customer to download his or her choice of songs, making music collections today more personal and individualized. With regards to paint, it is color that personalizes the overall look of a particular design.

The art of design

Design encompasses much more than mere talent at the service of functionality. It is also an art that interacts with the emotions of an individual, or group of individuals, in a given context. Design is a creative gesture that captures an emotion or experience, expresses it through an idea and transforms that idea into an object or a new space.

Often, the context is what we call "the spirit of the times." It determines how we receive, filter and react to new social realities according to our previous experiences as an individual and as a member of a social group.

When presenting trends programs it is important to interpret and qualify that context in ways that convey meaning, using images, words and colors that will inspire. For the past year, PPG has observed the subtle and not so subtle changes in the world we live in. It is a process that requires decoding our social and emotional landscapes in order to cast a comprehensible portrait of these new realities and present them as guidelines or inspirations for creative projects.

During the process of exploring new ideas, archetypes are created that illustrate these emerging trends. These original models are the polarized expressions of what we have become as a society, molded by the changes in our lives and the shift in our social consciousness.

Observations are based on hard facts, such as demographic shifts and natural catastrophes that have affected the people of this planet in recent years. However, many conclusions are also drawn from more subjective considerations such as the impact of technology on our lives, our definition of self and our relationships to one another.

Cultural and demographic trends

Today's color trends span global and personal influences. The unknown and exotic mixed with the natural world-the things we know and trust-our instincts. And it is no single country's influence but many. We see soft, restful colors coming from Japan's traditional culture while spicy, rich tones are coming form Brazil and Mexico, and streamline classics are being inspired by Scandinavia.  

In addition to the cultures, trends are occurring in various demographic groups. Right now, we all know that the Boomers-between the ages 40-60-represent a large part of our population, approximately 76 million people. However, Generation Y-between the ages of 14-28-is also a large group with more than 74 million individuals.

Each of these groups have impacted trends overall. On the one hands, the Boomers are reinventing retirement and are exploring their spirituality through different avenues of expression such as yoga, which has become the most popular physical activity among this group. In addition, Boomers are investing more dollars in their second homes than their first, and they have more disposable income to do that. Design and entertaining are key concerns for Boomers, who would also prefer to hire a professional painter than do it themselves.  

On the other side of the spectrum, Generation Y is pushing the use of bright, vibrant colors. This generation's members are accustomed to seeing these colors in the virtual worlds they inhabit. PPG's Bloom trend shows the bright purples and greens paired with lots of white is inspired by this young generation. This generation loves technology, but equally values customization, wanting everything that is theirs to reflect their unique look and personality.  

What colors are hot now?

Pittsburgh Paints developed The Voice of Color paint and color design system on the premise that every color has an emotional association, and individuals are drawn to different colors for reasons inherently tied to their unique personalities and experiences.

Last Fall Pittsburgh Paints announced its 2007-08 color trends, named Confluence, that brings together inspiration from the natural world, and our connection to its basic elements used throughout the ages to give significance to color-fire, water, earth and air. These trends are called Bloom, Blue Notes, Helios and Space, and include a palette of colors that flow together to transform a space and convey a person's individual style and personality.

Bloom represents a trend inspired by the spring season and includes colors levitating energy and life, cheerfulness and charm. Bloom represents the true brilliance of gardens in bloom with rich purples, greens, oranges and pinks. This trend attracts the Generation Y demographic discussed earlier.

Blue Notes represents a trend inspired by the summer season and includes all things nautical, crisp, cool and collected. This blue-based trend represents a return to what is essential including new basics rooted in simplicity and classic crispness. Imagine sailing the deep blue Atlantic and feeling the consistency in the many ways to be blue.  

Helios represents a trend inspired by the autumn season and is influenced by cultures of the sun, from Argentina to Mexico. Representing shades of deep red clay to cream and white, Helios breathes with the passion for life.

Space represents a trend inspired by the winter season and calls to mind an airy, Zen-like equilibrium between thought and emotion. Space inspires a balance between luxury and simplicity. Space embodies spa colors that soothe and invigorate, including soft pinks, rich cinnamons and sepia browns.

These latest trends represent the classic confluence of nature's elements and how their beauty connects and inspires our individual style. Whether it's a burning fire or a cool crisp ocean, nature and its elements symbolize the multiple expressions that are part of our ever-changing world.

Side Bar

Silver retains top spot in automotive color trends report

For the seventh consecutive year, silver has held its lead as the predominant color choice for vehicles globally while vibrant colors such as red and orange also registered noticable growth around the world, according to DuPont Automotive's 2006 Color Popularity Report.

There has been a broadening of the range of tones in silver and in gray, another top choice. The trend for the future includes the infusion of these neutral colors with greens, reds and purples, which provides customers a broader palette of choices, the report said.

"We are seeing a growing convergence in color preference globally," said Karen Surcina, color marketing and technology manager, DuPont Automotive Systems. "But while the world is becoming flatter and tastes are harmonizing globally, we think that it is also important to look deeply at the cultural and taste differences in large and growing markets, such as Asia."

Japan's color choices remain consistent with last year's overall Asian results where neutrals were dominant with silver at 27%, white/white pearl at 24%, black at 16% and gray at 12% while the chroma color of blue rounds out the top five overall with 10% of the market, according to the report.

A trend for the future includes warmer tones such as red as well as the continued strength of blue, the report said. Blue and red have strengthened their positions as popular vehicle colors in North America each with 11% share and in China with 17% share for blue and nine percent share for red. Blue remains a top choice in Europe with a 13% share overall and a top three color choice in the compact/sport segment with a 15% share.

Another trend the report found is a stronger showing of higher chroma colors throughout the world, which points to a desire by consumers for more personalization of their vehicles. This boldness allows for smaller vehicles to make a strong statement and is most evident in the compact/sport segment, where globally, red and orange have seen a large upswing, notably in the three Asian markets and in North America. Red surfaced as the top color choice in the compact vehicle segment in South Korea, with 22% share, as well as in the North American market compact/sport category, from nine percent in 2005 to 15% in 2006.

Black remains a top choice across the global landscape. It is among the top five colors in the regions examined and has gained ground in specific segments in North America. The report found the growth of black in the North American luxury segment with 22%, mirroring black's longstanding first place among European luxury vehicles with 37%. These gains in North America closely follow the European acceptance and growth of metallic black. Black has also gained ground in the intermediate vehicle segment in North America.

The soft white revolution on the highways

After silver and black, white has the potential to be the third most significant color on the global automotive market, according to BASF Coatings' color stylists in the company's annual color trend forecast.

According to the company, fashion, furniture and consumer electronics are all pioneers in the white revolution. One of the best known examples is the iPod. "From the point of view of society, the new trend toward white is rooted in the search for new values and a new aestheic purism," said Michaela Finkenzeller, color stylist, BASF Coatings.

BASF Coatings is working on solid-color and metallic paints, as well as special colors like white with soft mica effects, white with extreme sparkle or white in variants with gradated hues such as cream colors and silver-white.