Color Trend Forecast

By Tim Wright | April 4, 2008

Color experts discuss current and future trends.

Color is emotion and can speak to the human soul in thousands of different ways. It is an integral element of art, design and aesthetics in general. Explaining color is like trying to explain the mystery of that which holds the moon in place. Perhaps French painter Joseph Fernand Henri L�ger defined it best as "a basic human need...like fire and water, a raw material, indispensable to life."

Color touches upon fundamental social science principles of communication, cultural symbolism and societal relations, according to Aimee Desrosiers, color forecaster and director of marketing at California Paints. "Color involves physics and chemistry, or the science of light, which involves the manner in which an object is colored, the medium or process used to color an object or the structure of naturally occurring color," she explained. "Colors illicit human behavioral responses and can be studied from a psychological perspective."

Consumers vary widely, however color is typically the most important factor in making a decision whether to purchase a product or not. "Color is used as an indicator of quality, an indicator of freshness, a distinguishable sign of whether a product is contemporary or passe," Desrosiers continued. "Color can endear a consumer to a product or send a subliminal message that the product is inferior. Color is considered an outward sign of a consumers taste, mood and ultimately personality."

When it comes to designing interior living spaces color is arguably the most important aspect of an interior design scheme. "Color plays a huge part in overall design," said Kim Danzinger, senior color consultant at ICI Paints. "It helps coordinate all of the design elements together to create one mood that is trying to be captured in a particular space."

Determining Color Trends

Every year color experts at paint manufacturing companies wrap their brains around color and develop color trend forecasts for consumers and industry. There are many variables that affect the direction of design and color.

"Trends develop over the course of time," said Debbie Zimmer, Rohm and Haas Paint Quality Institute paint and color expert. "Demographics, changing consumer desires, social and economic changes and technology all converge, or come together, to influence color themes."

"Color forecasting is predictive in nature, using a vast amount of information for analysis," said Desrosiers. "Not all color trends will apply to all products or all industries. In addition to focusing on external forces, a crucial step in color forecasting involves determining whether a color direction is applicable to a specific product."

Color trends are typically determined by the color trend organizations and by consumers, according to Danzinger. "The color trend groups consisting of many different product designers already know what has been past, what is present, and what is yet to come," she said. "The designer is always taking a temperature of what the consumer is using and incorporating into their lives.

"The consumer and designer influence the lifespan of a color depending on the frequency of use. Some colors resonate more with designers and or consumers than others," Danzimer continued. "Sometimes when a trend color comes into its popularity, it becomes a color that is widely used in many different products for several more seasons. Later you will see this color being used more frequently after it's 'trend life.' The color starts to feel like a common color, or one that is used everywhere."

New Zealand-based paint manufacturer Resene looks to overseas markets and gathers together a range of trends forecasts to determine commonalities between them, according to Karen Warman, marketing manager, Resene Paint. "The clothing industry is also a key indicator, though it must be carefully interpreted as many clothing trends will not translate to interiors because they are too gender specific," she said.

Going into further detail Warman said, "Color trends are formed through an amalgamation of available pigment technology pushing the boundaries of what is available and expert design opinion, with consumer demand acting as a key way to refine the color options into a useable marketable palette."

Environmental Issues Influence Today's Trends

Today's forecasts are not just about the most important hot colors, but are divided into lifestyle influences and the color palettes that best reflect those influences, according to Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. "This aids consumers in their search for a palette that fits their own personal comfort level while acknowledging that not everyone wants to decorate with exactly the same shades as their next door neighbor," she said.

For Resene color is generally seen in three ways-one color in isolation, one color in a color scheme and one color altered through effects such as metallics and varying sheen levels, according to Warman. Resene releases an annual trends fandeck-The Range fashion series of fandecks-and this combines new trends hues with popular hues continuing from previous years, metallics and wallpapers. According to Resene's Paint Color Cues for 2008 report, nature and especially the ocean and earth tones have warmed its color palette.

"The basic neutrals are tending more grey and white is waning. The underlying favorites of blues, greens and reds continue to underpin non-neutral schemes. Oranges, yellows, purples and pinks tend to wax and wane but are generally never taken up en masse for painted areas as these colors can be difficult to use well," Warman said. "Generally they will be incorporated with accessories during the trend upswing and these accessories will be replaced when the color downtrends. In contrast, blues, greens and reds tend to have greater longevity and while usage of them for paint will decrease during a downtrend the decrease is considerably less marked."

According to ICI's ColourFutures report, yellow currently is the color of the year for 2008-2009. "Yellow is a color long associated with opposing concepts-oriental and occidental, contemporary and traditional, spiritual and intellectual," said Danzinger. "It transcends national cultures and preferences in its ability to communicate optimism, respect, radiance and wellbeing. It is this duality that makes it so relevant for 2008 as we try to balance seemingly conflicting aspects of life, art, culture and innovation."

For Zimmer, today's trend towards environmentally friendly low VOC paints has influenced a versatile palette of blues, greens and browns, which encompass colors inspired by the earth, sea and sky. She also said metallics and brights are gaining in popularity to add 'pop' and excitement.

"Environmentally friendly low-VOC paints are popular for a variety of reasons, most notably because they lack odor. This allows consumers to put recently painted rooms back into use almost immediately after being painted," said Zimmer. "Another added benefit according to health and environmental authorities is that low-VOC paints are not considered hazardous waste, so consumers can take pride in knowing that they are not impacting the environment when disposing of leftover paints."

"The current trend in color selection in the paint industry focuses on convincing the consumer that more is better. Colors are added on top of an already overwhelming color palette year after year," said Desrosiers. "We've discovered through our research, that people want a more logical approach to color selection instead of being presented with a confusing amount of options."

California Paints recently debuted its Perfect Palette, which the company said allows consumers to choose from a selection of colors that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also logically chosen as the most desired colors available. The Perfect Palette presents a fusion of science and beauty, and includes 1696 colors chosen using a three-dimensional color mapping process. The Perfect Palette contains trend forecasts which embrace colors influenced by timely events such as the Beijing Olympics and the growing trend toward natural hues.

"Time and again, contemporary issues and trends are mirrored by the themes we choose for our homes and the products we buy," said Eiseman. "Eco-awareness is a resounding theme as consumers continue to be more thoughtful about what they are buying and the impact their choices will have on the world. Today's consumers find innovative ways to recycle, reuse and re-purpose. At the same time, there is also a need to relax, rewind, renew and hopefully, refurbish. The 2009 palettes address these trends, which will be reflected in designs and products for the home in the coming year."��

Consumers Gain Confidence in Color Selection

Personal preference of the consumer ultimately influences the color decision. "The psychology of how the color makes the consumer feel or how they rate the color's aesthetic value will many times transcend whether the hue is popular," said Desrosiers.

But with so many colors to choose from, just how comfortable are consumers with the color selection process? Paint manufacturers have worked hard to develop tools available on the web and actual sample material to help make the color selection process easier.

"Some consumers are uncomfortable with the process. They usually have to match to several products blending in the whole scheme," said Danzinger "It is challenging to find that one color or grouping of colors that will coordinate and work well in their space. Through the variety of our brands we try to create programs that are helpful in this process such as the online color consultant on the Glidden website as well as inspirational color collateral."

"There are many consumers that would like to choose stronger colors but are worried about how to combine them and the effect it may have on home resale values," said Warman. "We have a range of color tools from testpots, color charts and complementary color suggestions through to virtual painting software and we have color consultants in selected stores to help customers make their choices."���

One of the most important factors influencing consumer confidence today is the media, according to Zimmer. "Home improvement television shows have had a tremendous influence over the past 20-25 years in expanding the mindset of viewers and their attitudes towards DIY painting projects."

The idea behind California Paints' new Perfect Palette is that consumers want a more logical approach to color selection. "One of the most important and often overlooked aspects of creating a color system is to integrate color science and color theory into the logic of the color layout," said Desrosiers. "This enables the user to move through color space in all three directions light to dark, saturated to muted and through each of the six hues-red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. Our new system also describes the relationship of the colors on a single strip. This is really helpful in case the consumer finds a color they love but want to see it a little lighter or darker."
blog comments powered by Disqus
  • The Ongoing Quest to Coat the World in Green

    The Ongoing Quest to Coat the World in Green

    Jeff Alexander , VP of Sales, Coil and Extrusion Division, Valspar||October 19, 2015

  • Low- and Zero-VOC Technology

    Low- and Zero-VOC Technology

    Kerry Pianoforte, Editor||April 15, 2015
    Increasingly stringent environmental regulations have created a greater demand for low- and zero-VOC coatings products.  

  • Architectural Interior Coatings

    Architectural Interior Coatings

    Kerry Pianoforte, Editor ||January 19, 2015
    Growth in new construction and increased existing home sales drive growth for architectural interior coatings.

  • Self Cross-Linking Resin Coatings Offer Siding Manufacturers An Edge

    Self Cross-Linking Resin Coatings Offer Siding Manufacturers An Edge

    Bob Cregg, Industry Directory Building Products,Sherwin-Williams Product Finishes ||November 7, 2014
    New coatings that utilize a cross-linking resin meet the finishing challenges siding manufacturers face.

  • Benjamin Moore Hue Awards

    Benjamin Moore Hue Awards

    May 15, 2012
    At its annual celebration of color, Benjamin Moore’s HUEYs were presented for exceptional use of color in architecture and interior design.

  • PPG Launches Solar Glass Coating

    PPG Launches Solar Glass Coating

    Charles Thurston, Contributing Writer||May 15, 2012
    PPG's solar coating, Solarphire, is an anti-reflective coating for glass panels used in solar modules.

  • Architectural Coatings Market

    Architectural Coatings Market

    Tim Wright, Editor||January 24, 2012
    In high growth regions demand for architectural coatings continues to grow, but in the mature markets of North America and Western Europe difficult conditions remain.

  • White is Favorite Color for Automobiles

    White is Favorite Color for Automobiles

    November 10, 2011
    PPG introduced 70 new shades at annual Automotive Color Trend Show.

  • White Roof Coatings Boost Solar Power

    White Roof Coatings Boost Solar Power

    Charles W. Thurston, Contributing Editor||September 14, 2011
    Most of the interest in white roofs comes from the heat reflection of the surface, which reduces energy consumption for cooling.

  • The Asia-Pacific Paint and Coatings Market

    The Asia-Pacific Paint and Coatings Market

    Scott Detiveaux, Allen Tsaur||August 15, 2011
    The Asia-Pacific region is an important and growing part of the global coatings marketplace. Unlike other regions of the world, the Asia-Pacific region has continued to grow, even in the face of the global recession.

  • Local Color

    Local Color

    Tim Wright||April 4, 2011
    Paint makers work with local designers, paint dealers to develop very specific color palettes for particular regions.

  • Toward a Clean Energy Future

    Toward a Clean Energy Future

    Tim Wright||March 10, 2011
    Coatings World caught up with former DuPont head Chad Holliday and discussed issues ranging from corporate environmental responsibility, sustainability, climate change and the American Energy Innovation Council.

  • Focus on China: Guangdong Carpoly

    Focus on China: Guangdong Carpoly

    Tim Wright||March 10, 2011
    Among the world’s top 40 paint producers, Guangdong Carpoly has ambitious growth plans for the future.

  • Benjamin Moore: Leaders in Exterior Deco Technology

    Benjamin Moore: Leaders in Exterior Deco Technology

    Tim Wright||October 5, 2010
    One of the leading North American paint manufacturers, Benjamin Moore continues to innovate new technology for the exterior architectural coatings market place. Jeff Spillane, senior product marketing manager at Benjamin Moore discusses some of these new advancements as well as the market in general.

  • "Green" Coatings Market is Growing

    "Green" Coatings Market is Growing

    Kerry Pianoforte, Associate Editor||March 29, 2010
    Manufacturers of low and zero VOC coatings are taking a holistic view when it comes to developing greener coatings, focusing not only on what goes into the can, but also on sustainable packaging and fuel efficiency.

  • Interior Color Trends

    Interior Color Trends

    Tim Wright, Editor||March 29, 2010
    More than ever paint companies must serve a diverse palette of color options.

  • The U.S. Interior Decorative Coatings Market

    The U.S. Interior Decorative Coatings Market

    Tim Wright, Editor||December 23, 2009
    Major U.S. paint manufacturers including Benjamin Moore, Kelly-Moore, Rodda Paint and Dunn-Edwards discuss key issues in the interior decorative coatings market.

  • Thermal Diffusion Coatings Protect Automotive Lock Parts

    Thermal Diffusion Coatings Protect Automotive Lock Parts

    Dan Riter||October 1, 2009
    The new Greenkote GmbH coatings plant in Germany delivers improved corrosion protection for automotive parts.

  • Marketing Matters

    Bonnie Morrow||October 1, 2009
    Because most coatings manufacturers have a broad, complex business model that embraces multiple customer targets, the selling and marketing of coatings requires a vigilant and precise understanding of customers and their needs.

  • Exterior Architectural Decorative Coatings

    Exterior Architectural Decorative Coatings

    Kerry Pianoforte||October 1, 2009
    In these tough economic times, DIYers and contractors look for exterior coatings that will offer money saving benefits.

  • iPhone Camera Meets Benjamin Moore Fan Deck

    iPhone Camera Meets Benjamin Moore Fan Deck

    Charles Thurston||August 4, 2009
    Benjamin Moore has wedded its color authority to the technology of iPhones. On June 1 the company debuted ben Color Capture, an iPhone application that, with the tap of a key, lets users snap a picture of any color and instantly match it to one of the more than 3,300 hues in Benjamin Moore's color system.

  • Encouraging Growth Potential for the Indian Paint Industry

    Encouraging Growth Potential for the Indian Paint Industry

    Devaraj Parthasarathy||August 4, 2009
    The Indian paint and coatings industry is still performing well despite slower growth due to the global financial crisis.

  • Low- & Zero VOC Paint Technology

    Kerry Pianoforte||May 7, 2009
    No longer merely a buzzword, demand for "green" coatings continues to increase for both the professional and DIY markets.

  • Anything but Grey

    Richard Prime||April 6, 2009
    The use and application of color is a minefield in any of the creative disciplines.