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Stephen Fenton

6 October 2012

Last week our trip to Decorex gave us great insight into the glamorous Chelsea world of interiors; stunning form and function proudly on display but also we had the chance to attend a seminar about colour. This was a reveal of the latest predictions for Autumn Winter 2013/14 where we discovered that ‘Bone’ will be the new cream and that the ‘Clash’ story will give designers licence to mix and match a maelstrom of shades (that I could never have imagined working together before!) So this caused me to wonder who really sets and who truly follows trends? In the desirability stakes is it not the buyer who decides what flies off the shelf or what bombs?

In colour forecasting it does seem a case of he who plays the piper calls the tune. The presentation was intended to ‘contain inspirational images to encourage the viewer to create their own interpretation of the trends’ say Global Colour Research the organization behind Mix Trends. We are told that such stuff is for professionals who wish to be ahead of the competition – by inference to ignore is to do so at ones peril, and to be consigned to almost certain design obscurity.

So these are powerful influencers and I wanted to know more. My search for greater explanation of the role of trend setting took me to a great definition by Kelley Walters who suggests: “Color forecasters are part designer, part sociologist and part predictor. They draw information from the runway, auto manufacturers and the housewares industry; they scour showrooms, trade shows and magazines for trends; they consider what's happening culturally and how this impacts our national mood. Then they take all of that information and translate it into what colors we'll be wearing and decorating with in the next year.”

Global Color Research themselves work with a group of external experts who each contribute trend predictions at biannual meetings in London. This panel conduct social, economic and lifestyle research to arrive at trend ideas for discussion during the session. The colour professionals represent a diverse set of influences and disciplines from within the design sector. After the London meeting where the global colour palette is created, Global Color Research organise three additional panel meetings in other locations, to establish colour nuances for specific markets. Major brand names who take part include BASF, Benjamin Moore, CPS, Dupont, Jakob, Kimberly-Clark, Mamas & Papas, Maybelline, Merck, Milliken, Nokia and Swarovski.

What's hot

What did we learn in particular at Decorex about some colours on the immediate horizon; Green continues to gain significance from its association with a move toward eco-consciousness so it’s likely to appear in everything from fabrics to accessories to countertops. This was in part derived from Mix Trends ‘Alpine’ story and along with it’s zingy, warmly decorated beer mugs and festive flavours left me reaching for the Lederhosen! Over the last year we've also seen cool and dark greys becoming prominent in interiors and that was reflected across many of the stands. Rich charcoal grey is ideal in juxtaposition with warm woods and marks a change from the accent colour of the noughties, nasty chocolate brown.

Beyond the exclusive set, just this week Dulux invited customers to explore six new palettes and they say “We have travelled the globe and scanned world experts, reviewed design fairs and forecast reports, noting the most significant changes and how these myriad shifts translate into a new movement in colour trends.” …or have they just attended another seminar?

In the home decorating press it has been recently reported by House and Home that there's a new neutral in town (to rival Magnolia) and it's taking the interior world by storm. This colour is a combination of grey and beige and has been christened greige. The perfect alternative to creams and taupes it may be, but taking this as our lead Zeke can lay claim to a trend of our very own. Zeke Bitter Chocolate and Dark Grey hybrid is the must-have web and corporate identity background this season – we call it “Grocolate” and predict you’ll be tempted to take a bite.

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