Color Commentary: Consumers Get The Blues

Color Commentary: Consumers Get The Blues

by Anita Shaw

Traditionally seen as the "heart of the home," the kitchen is where people go to be with family, to entertain, to prepare meals or to relax; while the bath provides a private sanctuary where comfort takes on increased importance. However, cutting-edge style, long-term resale value and colors that complement current trends are also important in kitchen and bath design. For this reason, color, as much as layout and amenities, becomes an important part of the design process.

So, what's on the horizon for color trends?

If there's one major trend, it's that consumers definitely have the blues, and are expected to continue experiencing a passion for this soothing yet invigorating color choice. In fact, all manner of blues are standout choices for the future, according to a recently published report by Color Marketing Group (CMG), an international, not-for-profit association of more than 1,700 color and design professionals who identify and forecast color trends.

"Whether safe and grounded, watery or atmospheric, Forecast Blues invigorate and enliven while providing steadfast assurance and stability during cloudy economic times," states the report. "This is what will influence color in consumer industries for 2003."

Participants in the workshop agreed that the ailing economy is the key influence on the 2003 Consumer Color Directions Palette. While blues of the past were viewed as the softer hues of a subdued era, the new "full chroma hues can lift the spirits and provoke our senses," comments Barbara Lazarow, CMG, Co-Chairman, Consumer Color Direction Committee, Blonder Wall Coverings, Cleveland, OH. "For color, we look to the prosperous times of the '20s and '60s, and to the glamour of the '30s and '40s."

In today's fast-paced, electronics-based world, special color effects and silver metallics are also at the forefront of color choices, especially when paired with gold or white. While metallics may be too dramatic to take center stage in home design, touches of metallics may be increasingly evident in the kitchen, adding energy and pizazz.

More than 600 members of CMG met to discuss short- and long-range color forecasts for manufactured products. Workshop participants chose a Forecast Palette of 21 colors that they expect to be on the scene by 2003, up from the 16 color choices of last year. In addition to the wide range of blues, other hues that are expected to emerge are romantic pinks, revved up brights, shimmers and sophisticated neutrals.

Among the pinks are shades such as Currant, Pinkle, Sweetheart and Cheeky. Currant appears as a brown violet; Pinkle is an aged Pink that is non-gender specific and reminiscent of vintage velvets perfect for an old fashioned bath hideaway. Sweetheart emerges as a vintage red on the blue side, with lighter values translating to fashionable pinks. The mix of pink and peach in Cheeky "recalls the blushing bride of the Art Deco era," the report notes.

Featured in the brights are Red Satin, a revved-up red, and Iron Ore-ange, a copper-on-orange hue that takes a more vibrant slant on the trend toward natural colors, so commonly seen in the kitchen.

Metallics have been seen as accent notes in the kitchen in recent years, and shimmering into the future are such colors as Lemon Meringue and Shimma. "Silver flirts with gold in this confection reminiscent of the Great Gatsby and vintage roadsters," CMG notes. The pearlized metallic of Shimma features gold flake in the mix. Lion King, also part of the metallic palette, in a shade of regal gold.

Also in the glittering family are two intense metallic shades. The combination of burnished gold, pewter and silver gives Gargoyle its edge. For Silger, the idea is a different type of combination gold overlay on silver.

The wide range of blues and greens on tap will be influenced by nature and technology. Three greens Exploring Khaki, Frond and Soda Green give consumers an array of choices. The safari green of Exploring Khaki "recalls rain forest moss," according to CMG, while Soda Green takes on a more soothing tone that offers serenity with a touch of effervescence. Frond is a tropical green that gets an extra bit of energy in natural chroma.

Blue gets a techno touch in Cinder Blue, where silver lights a mechanical blue, bringing it toward the gray family, and Blue Aire, "where technology melts retro blue." Ocean Cruise gets a tropical twist "while technology adds a sporty edge," while Deep Arctic offers the dusty navy tone of a safe harbor.

Neutrals for 2003 are anything but safe and boring. The copper-base of Root Beer gives this brown its pop, as silver and gold blend with Art Deco glamour in Champagne Bubble. The softened matte gray of Newtral offers a lower contrast alternative to dark and white combinations, taking its cue from the shades of bisque ware, unglazed ceramics and raw plaster.

CMG has also determined what color trends it expects to see in the nearer future, specifically next year. "Color is morphing, blending and overlapping in consumer markets for 2002," the group notes. 

"Colors are becoming more complex and sophisticated and are incorporating a variety of special effects including pearlescence and metallics, along with the dimension of transparency and translucency," comments Jay de Sibour, president, CMG and a marketing consultant in Kenvil, NJ.

Indeed, translucency already gaining interest in the bath with the rise in popularity of products that offer translucent properties is expected to be a growing trend.

In keeping with the popularity of metallics, metal or metal-looking finishes are prevalent, "inspired by the earth's minerals or metals," states CMG. Copper is especially trendy, something that's expected to be more evident in the kitchen, where copper tones have made a greater splash recently. 

Nature, too, remains a strong influence from the exotic to camouflage. Wood and faux wood finishes, considered special effects, are also enabling people to connect with nature, and will be evident throughout the home. 

The desire to escape from it all and be enveloped by comforting surroundings is being matched by the need to remain in the center of an ever-advancing world. The combination of these dynamic parallels makes for exciting design possibilities, in the kitchen and bath, and throughout the home.