New Color Recipe Mixes 'Technos' & 'Naturals'
by Susan Alberto
ALEXANDRIA, VA If you haven't noticed what path color is on for the new millennium, it's taking its direction from Mother Nature and flowing like water.
A sea of blue
"We're just coming out of the 'green' decade, which is almost considered a neutral. There's a strong push for blue, and not just one particular blue," Buch reports. "What's driving the blue is the whole water story all of its qualities: the clearness, clarity, translucence which is mindful of natural waterways, from the tropics of the south to the icy blue streams of the north. If there's one color family, that's it blue." Buch adds that, "In the kitchen, there's a shift from the light and natural colors, which are still popular, to the warm, rich mid-tones of greens and blues. Color in general will be softer and cleaner."
Neutrals are taking on more color, making it difficult to decide if they are actually neutrals, in some cases. In addition, products increasingly display color schemes that are values of the same color. While blue will become the most important color of the next decade, that color family will be supported by an array of neutral colors what Buch calls "hue-full neutrals" in cool and warm gray, clay, taupe and pale brown. CMG forecasters also predict a new wave of soft, pale colors led by aqua and true lavender, in response to consumers' desire for serenity in their environments.
At a recent Color Symposium held in Kohler, WI, Kohler color experts noted that color trends will follow nature-related themes, mirroring colors found in sunlight, trees, water, woods and nature.
Yet, consumer products in the new millennium also need energy colors to complement the blues and neutrals. Reds, spicy oranges and golden browns will fill this niche, the CMG notes.
Another development is to take a favorite color and refresh it with some type of visual texture. The CMG reports that special effects, texture and layering are essentials in product design, and that there's a growing importance being placed upon how texture, patterns and specialty effects influence color. "The focus is not only on color, but what can be done to enhance color," notes CMG president Hall Dillon. "As people strive for simplicity in their daily lives, paradoxically, the texture of color grows more complicated. Misting, icing and translucency gain prominence, while chameleon colors will be popular choices, due to their ability to work with more than one color family," Dillon added.
The CMG identified four color clusters that will be important as consumers enter the next decade:
Techno-Colors from gray to taupe to black and pure white, these colors are both from and for technology. Yesterday's hardware looks aged, yet neutral colors are required for products that must work in widely differentiated environments. New neutrals will be used to complement the introduction of unexpected materials, colors and shapes in technical equipment.
Chromatic Adrenaline Colors Energetic hues that will brighten color combinations and add punch to product lines.
Serenity Colors A group of colors influenced by consumers' desire for more balance and harmony in their lives. These colors are pale, soft and reassuring. Some come from nature, mostly inspired by water.
Mediterranean Culture Colors A group of rich, earthy spice colors most often seen in textiles dyed with centuries-old natural methods.
The CMG has also found that the demand for individualized products is strong among Baby Boomers, particularly in home design. The color spectrum runs the gamut of softer hues found in the home, to the iMac vibrant candy colors popular in communications/graphics. Buch notes that, "We're seeing color-enhanced groups being influenced by some hues, for example, stones being used as accent colors in countertop displays.
So the whole color group has to work together with those accents. "On the residential front, laminates are taking on a 'pearl-essence' the wear-value is as strong as the regular laminates, yet adds some depth and visual interest to a color. This shows consumer interest in color that's alive and has reflectivity. This is a whole other dimension that consumers are seeking."
Finding our roots
"Color trends, and the speed of adoption of these trends, are often directly influenced by changes in our society and even current events," says the CMG's Christine Dickey. "There's a desire for products and colors that are authentic, possessing some degree of heritage, originality, tradition or craft that can be linked to an individual's cultural roots or personal interests. This trend is led by Generations X and Y, but is quickly being adopted by Baby Boomers seeking a slower pace of life filled with more tradition and spirituality."