New Color Recipe Mixes ‘Technos’ &
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.
“This is a time to seek balance between technology and our desire
for all that is natural,” says Terrie Buch, product design manager
for Nevamar and Color Marketing Group (CMG) Consumer Color
Directions co-chair for 2000-2001. Buch reports that, “In design,
we are witnessing a connection to both of these worlds [techno and
nature] through imaginative and innovative use of color, texture
and materials (see related story, Page
50). What was once considered eclectic has now become a means for
bridging seemingly disparate worlds.” Not surprisingly, the kitchen
has become this ‘design world bridge.’ As consumers have come to
focus increasingly on the kitchen as the prime gathering place in
the home, Frigidaire manager of design Rick Weiss notes that, “Many
customers are wanting to make a lifestyle statement,” and “they’re
doing it by combining the beauty of stainless steel with a wealth
of upscale features.” The result has been a demand for stainless
steel in all shapes, forms and applications.
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
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
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