Coverings 2010: Color Me This

IMG_0512 I had the opportunity to attend a seminar at Coverings 2010 called “Color Trends: The Catalysts that Create Change” by Pantone Color Institute’s Color Consultant Leatrice Eiseman, presented on April 27. Known as the “international color guru,” Eiseman spoke in depth about the importance of predicting color trends for manufacturers and retailers in any industry, and what the 2011 trends will be.

“Catalyst is one of my favorite words,” she says, “because it says to people that you’re creating something of excitement.”

She started out by detailing that the current markets are heavily influenced by the recession (which isn’t a surprise to anyone). But while consumers and design clients are buying less, the research shows that consumers says they will spend more on the products that help improve their health and their lives. They want simplicity, clarity, and a return to authentic applications to connect them to the past and bring them back to a comforting place—a main catalyst behind the many retro-inspired designs and projects that we’re seeing today. (This is also where the green movement fits in as another driver behind the rapid increase in sustainable design, as can be witnessed by all the “green” claims and promotions this year at Coverings.)

Eiseman also emphasized the importance and necessity of architects, designers, and retailers to stay informed about the world of fashion. “In a world of color, what happens in the fashion industry will happen in all others as well.” (She suggests reading magazines like Women’s Wear Daily.) To get the message home, she displayed a recent Armstrong ad in which a Judy Garland look-a-like was used to create a classic vibe. “Retro is not dead. It’s very much around. This is what we call eclecticism. But it’s far less rococo and much more modernized.” In fact, Eiseman says that this was easily witnessed in Milan at the Furniture Fair 2010 by how the more retro-inspired collections were the most heavily trafficked.

As far as color and style trends go, here is what Eiseman says will be all the rage in 2011:

  • Excessive glitz will be downplayed by warmer colors and texture surfaces. People are looking to do away with “cold” design and looking for a touch of humanity in their interior environments, styles, and designs.
  • Anything that lends itself to “movement,” via optical illusions, light interplay, etc., is in.
  • Quality and value are going up in popularity. People want style first and foremost, but they want quality, as well. This quality also applies to color. With technological advances and HD resolutions, color is taking the forefront in movies (such as Avatar and Alice in Wonderland), which is changing how people view their own sense of style. The mentality is now, “If I see it in a textile, or the movies, or here or there, why can’t that be translated to the floor, or the wall, or adapted to all areas?”
  • The main colors will be periwinkle blues, warm earth tones, blacks and whites that allow accent colors to pop, vibrant/rich reds, as well as the continuation of deeply “alive” purples. Additionally, anything with metallic sheens that add light and movement to a space will be popular.

Overall, Eiseman says that the general public is getting smarter about color—they are designing themselves and doing their own research—so that means designers are going to have to stay that much more ahead in their own expertise. But she also notes, that the trends are simply extensions of what we’ve been seeing for the last several years. “I don’t think that trends are changing all that fast, just the reinventions of how colors are put together.”

–Stacy Straczynski

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