“AkzoNobel colors begin their journey with our company Design teams, who have been responsible for trend analysis, color and material research, color design and art direction for more than 25 years,” said Heleen van Gent, AkzoNobel’s head of Global Aesthetic Center. “Each year, leading design professionals from all over the world are invited by the AkzoNobel Global Aesthetic Center to come together to look into global, social, cultural and design trends and insights and analyze the current consumer trends.
These trends are then translated into an AkzoNobel Color of the Year and the accompanying annual color palettes.
“Trend research is a vital part of identifying the Color of the Year and the four trend palettes that bring it to life, and it plays a big role in helping AkzoNobel to meet the needs of our customers around the world,”she continued. “For 18 years, the AkzoNobel Decorative Paint brands have communicated the annual color trend-forecast research via ColourFutures, to its paint-consumers and specifiers in over 60 countries.
“Trends play a significant role in a number of industries, such as decorative paints and various coatings markets,” van Gent added. “For example, the Specialty Coatings business translates the annual trend research into color palettes for customers in the consumer electronics and automotive markets, the Wood Coatings team offers on-trend color selections for product developers and designers in major markets such as furniture, cabinetry, flooring and building products, and Powder Coatings customers can benefit from the in-trend colors in architecture, furniture and domestic appliances market segments.”
Behr gathers and reviews research and trends across society, design, fashion, architecture, and artistic fields to help curate its color trends palettes, according to Erika Woelfel, VP Color and Creative Services, Behr Paint Company.
Behr’s 2020 Color Trends palette includes 15 colors representing a full spectrum of color ranging from neutrals like Painter’s White and Graphic Charcoal to pinks and purples like Bubble Shell and Dusty Lilac.
“The palette also includes energetic hues, Red Pepper and Charismatic, all inspired by nature and the world,” Woelfel said.
Curating Color Trends palettes and picking a Color of the Year is more than picking out a color that will be popular, per Andrea Magno, director of Color Marketing and Development, Benjamin Moore.
“It’s about highlighting colors that are directional yet are appropriate for the walls of a home,” she said. “We know that people are not repainting each year, so we are very mindful of choosing colors that are easy to live with and easy to love.”
The starting point for Dunn-Edwards is cultural shifts, consumer behaviors and social behaviors, Color Expert and Stylist Sara McLean said.
“This is a year-round study of what’s happening in the world around us in order to align with design aesthetics,” she said. “I look to global events, socio-economic conditions, demographic shifts and new buying behaviors, travel trends, food and beverage trends, luxury trends, health and wellness trends, among many others. As these macro trends are researched, design aesthetics are continually evaluated to see what color and design ideas make the most sense.
“As trends are longer-term, I look to prior year trends to see what is up-trending or down-trending, what elements can move forward into the next year and what shifts will be shown in design and color,” McLean continued. “The final element is the color palette – looking to how color movement is shifting, what colors are resonating with key macro trend movements and what colors are cycling back through to the following year though shifting to updated tones. All this research culminates in a story for each major trends that we feel is important to highlight for that year. We typically launch five key stories with corresponding color palettes for each story.”
Fourty-plus PPG global color experts from the automotive, consumer electronics, aerospace and home paint and stain industries converge at PPG’s annual Global Color Workshop, according to Dee Schlotter, PPG senior color marketing manager.
“These color experts converge over the course of several days to analyze colors from the runway, diverse lifestyles, demographics and geographies to determine next year’s global color forecast and select the official PPG Color of the Year,” Schlotter said. “This unique process, which involves representation from a variety of industries and regions across the globe, allows PPG to develop an insights-driven approach to color for our customers.”
Many factors influence color popularity and trends.
“In order to deliver beautiful new color palettes that are perfectly matched to consumers’ desires and lifestyle needs, our design team continuously monitors social, cultural and design trends as they emerge all over the globe, in all the different industries, gathering unique insights via an international team of design experts,” van Gent said. “As well as translating the story of the overriding trend ‘the human touch’ in color, as we did for our AkzoNobel Color of the Year 2020, Tranquil Dawn, the Color of the Year needs to be a true trend color that we see being used in interior design as well as in various other industries in the years to come.”
Benjamin Moore sees the Color of the Year and Color Trends palette reveals as an opportunity to share color team’s findings from research spanning many industries and countries, according to Magno.
“Our goal is to inspire new ideas around color and possibly bring a new color idea to the mind of someone embarking on a painting project,” Magno said. “When we launch our annual trends palette, we track the impact that the color has made whether on social media, sample pulls, or sales. Each year we see an uptick, particularly when we highlight a great color that hasn’t seen the spotlight previously, signaling that we accomplished our task of bringing new color ideas to the forefront.
Macro trends are influential, according to McLean.
“As an example, warm colors and greens have been trending for the past couple years and will continue to do so through the next few years,” she said. “While gray was the color of 2010s, you’ll see a variety of browns and warm neutrals being showcased through these next few years. The desert design aesthetic has become quite popular, loaded with warm sunset hues and shades of browns, freshening up uses for brown.
“Sustainable design movements keep trending, highlighted by the new activism roles and buying power of Gen Z, who are also unafraid of color, taking on greens and browns as key colors to this movement,” she continued. “The hand-crafted and maker movements also highlight working with local materials and finding inspiration in nature. And, faced with uncertainty as we are now with COVID-19, people tend to turn to comfort colors such as browns, greens, sunrise and sunset colors—those tied to nature.”
“Trends influence us as much as we influence trends. When we discuss trending colors every year, they aren’t necessarily new colors,” Schlotter said. “These colors already exist in our palette -- but in order for a color to gain appreciation and popularity it has to represent current consumer sentiments. An interesting example of this is that after Sept. 11, consumers were drawn to rich chocolate browns and warm pinks, colors that provided a feeling of relief and comfort in an unsettling time.
“Colors tend to shift through various tones throughout the decades to become modernized and reflect what we crave. For example, avocado green kitchens were once trending in the 1970s, and that retro color is experiencing an uptick in popularity again amongst young consumers who want to infuse bold colors in their own spaces, deviating from classic whites or gray tones of recent years,” she continued. “In fact, according to a recent survey commissioned by PPG, millennials are the most likely of all generations to incorporate a new home color trend, like bright green, into their home.”
2020 Colors of the Year – AkzoNobel’s Tranquil Dawn, Benjamin Moore’s First Light 2102-70, Behr’s Back to Nature, Dunn-Edward’s DE5687 Minty Fresh and PPG’s Chinese Porcelain – and palettes celebrated the beginning of a new decade.
What colors and trends can be expected for 2021 and beyond?
AkzoNobel’s Color of the Year 2021 will be revealed on Sept. 8, 2020
“AkzoNobel researches and communicates long-term trends. Stringing them together, they show a linear connection. As we are writing this, we are finishing off our Color of the Year 2021 stories and assets, as well as planning our next year’s color brainstorm,” van Gent said. “At the same time, the AkzoNobel color design team keeps a finger on the social and design trend pulse 24/7, 365 days a year. This is all to supply our paints and coatings brands with the best colors and the Color of the Year.”
“For 2020 trends, we predicted warm, earthy colors would reign supreme based on the insight that people would retreat to nature to center themselves in a world of increasing screen time and notification culture,” Woelfel said. “Paint colors offer the ability to communicate these feelings in any environment and we anticipate these trends will continue in 2021, as people look to craft comfortable and authentic living spaces.”
“Expect to continue to see warm neutrals and browns as key colors along with coral-oranges, sunset hues and a wide range of greens. These all represent macro trends of global events, sustainable design, maker movements, as well as health and wellness,” McLean said. “Also, expect to see warmer hues with tactile touches tied to science and technology as these sectors become less cold, more human-influenced.
“Expect to continue to see brighter, happy splashes of color, signifying positivity in the face of fear, youth movement and influence and increased influence of science and technology,” she continued. “Commercial environments and artwork will continue to make major contributions to this influx of vivid, bright hues. Colors include bubblegum pinks, golden yellows, mint and grass greens, gray-blues and icy blues.
“Expect to see deep, dark and mysterious hues that highlight the shadows and mystery of life. The idea of escapism, magic and mystical experiences, the unpredictable – all have an element of natural, hidden wisdom,” McLean added. “This ties to looking to the depths of nature for inspiration, what lies beneath, what you can’t always see. The idea of biophilia and love of nature in a different way as we try to figure out what nature can teach us. Think deep-water discoveries, dark night time forests where a whole world of animal and plant life comes alive after most of the world is asleep. An element of fairytale and storybook awaits. Colors include cobalt and midtone blues, forest and moss greens, warm mushroom hues, ethereal pinks and lavenders of sunrises.”
A recently PPG survey found that 67 percent of Americans say that the color of the walls in their home are either extremely or very important, according to Schlotter.
The results validate “how important it is to choose colors that reflect how we want to feel in 2020 and beyond,” Schlotter said.
“Key themes coming out of the 2020 Global Color Workshop included consumers’ increasing need for connection in an unmoored and fast-paced world, making Chinese Porcelain the perfect Color of the Year choice,” she continued. “As we look ahead to 2021, we know that consumers are shifting toward warm, earthy, and natural colors and materials. This craving represents our desire to reconnect with nature in an age where sustainability is crucial.”