For many years, I've tracked color trends and created forecast reports for contract interiors. Economic turmoil and war in the Middle East make this an interesting and most challenging time to predict what color trends will be. While just a short while ago it seems we were whimsical and even reckless with color, today we have a more serious outlook. I believe we're more conservative in our approach to color; we're not playing anymore. Now it's like we've grown up. We are not timid, but we revere the past and respect its lessons. In interiors as well as movies, fashion and furniture, I sense nostalgia for a simpler, less complicated era like the 1950s—an time considered by many to be one of classic, contemporary design. But merely copying the past will not bring a sense of harmony or peace. There must be a deeper understanding and relevance to the world as it is this moment.
Yet our jobs are not just about this moment as in a fashion sense. Your clients must live with the color palette you pick for years—even decades. There are no right or wrong colors. Your clients' needs and location are critical factors in the color decision process. The choices you make must be weighed carefully and knowing the current and future direction of color is helpful, but not the only issues. It's up to each of us to invent the future, so let's talk about four trends in color for 2004 and beyond.
What we really need is emotional security and freedom from the burden of worry. We need more than just residential influences on contract. So, where do we find security in an uncertain world? Not in locks on the door or thousands of airport screeners! I'm talking about the subliminal feeling of security that comes from the touch of another's hand or the soft words of a lover or from comfort foods that remind us of the uncomplicated days of childhood. Perhaps it can be evoked by colors that soothe the soul and are gentle on the eye—colors of harmony, peace and serenity.
Consider colors that refresh and cleanse the color palette. These colors are approachable and relate to us on a human level. It's not about making public spaces that look like our homes.
It's about conveying the feeling of security through color, texture and pattern. This group includes:
- Cashmere: a textural neutral in warm taupe, a touchable ecru, a warmer, more natural khaki.
- Spring: pure green minty refreshment—leaves of soft green that are calming and clear, hopeful and optimistic.
- Aloe: a simple mid-tone leafy green to soothe the knitted brow—a cutting-edge green that has moved to its soft side.
- Lavender fields: a pleasant periwinkle with intense zest driven by the trend to clean, clear color and a beautiful counterpoint to neutrals.
- Oatmeal morning: a soft tasty cream color to have with your morning coffee—an aromatic beige with personality.
- Shrimp bisque: satisfying the appetite for creamy coral— crawdads of delight in brown infused red for fresh appeal.
- Grandma's quilt: a tapestry of the familiar made new with the scent of sweet lavender and sprigs of green.
- Penny loafer: copper and cream in a natural mix and comfy as an old shoe—a perfect combo to complete the colors of Feeling Comfortable.
Environmental responsibility has become another factor to consider in some way or another on just about every project. Beyond the hype of which product is "greener," there's an abiding need to know you've done the right thing. More than ever, we look to the natural environment to inspire colors for the built environment. Flora, fauna, sea, mountains and rain give endless inspiration. Only nature can be so complex, yet so simple. The goal today is not mere mimicry of nature, but an underlying sensitivity for the rhythms of life—the cycle of ebb and flow.
There is a new appreciation for our hearts' response to the rich diversity in the world around us, whether it's the lingering memory of sunsets on the ocean or the anticipation of sunrise on a crisp fall morning in the mountains. These colors reflect the range of Mother Nature's moods.
- Navaho: a turquoise jewelry color for a splash of retro, adding blue to green reminding us to be bold in spirit.
- Botanical: a green with chameleon characteristics, acidic enough to be interesting and neutral enough to satisfy.
- Rocky mountain: a dark majestic purple-based brown any true Earth Mother would love.
- Autumn golden: wonder radiant with the last heat of summer—a treat of spicy orange/gold that's not forced or artificial.
- Mineralite: an ever-so-complex black in human proportion—a primeval green organic color.
- Carnelian: a rich blue-based red with ancient roots—a fun red that's clear and sparkling with vitality, but with a serious side useful for contract applications.
- Fall foliage: an ecologic blend of leaves and mountains— seasoned veterans plied together in a new setting.
- Anemone: an aquatic mix of unexpected brights, the colors weave a tapestry of interest and leave us with a lingering feeling that we have sensed nature.
Be the Style
Fashion has always been the ultimate means of self-expression with disposable color and experimental silhouettes. Young people see a style on TV and spin it into their own with quirky twists. Contract colors can't be like that, but they can have a sense of style; an easy grace developed from the certainty of purpose.
We seek to enhance without false adornment. In stripping away the trappings, we rediscover the charm of simplicity.
How can we be true to our own vision with colors that spark imagination? Sometimes it's as simple as interpreting familiar classics in a new way. It's a mod, mod, modular world and quick, easy customs help fulfill the need to make a product just right for each job. So we need colors that are about attitude and confidence in our ability to create a better world.
- Sophisticated: an inspirational blue with a hint of cool making it an assured, confident, calm blue for all seasons.
- Classic: crisp, tailored, but always appropriate; camels' hair coats or slightly green tinted sisal is always classy
- Armani: far from cold or haughty, the epitome of a neutral gray with elegance—a gray embedded with light and loft.
- Sexy: a red with attitude to spare—spicy and hot giving off intense heat like a smear of bright lipstick on a white shirt collar.
- Wall street: flannel suiting on the human side of austere black that's conservative, but not boring charcoal.
- Demure: a color of shy contentment with a blush of blue on green to whisper not shout.
- Attitude: the flavor here is red and blue in a spicy mix of unconventional colors with just a bit of Asian flair for style.
- Socialite: a rendezvous with the classic and sophisticated in which the look is not brand new, but well-worn with pride—chic blue and beige let you Be the Style!
Free to Create
It's your role and mine to challenge the status quo. So I named these colors for those we honor as rule breakers, nonconformists and visionaries. People who "heard a different drummer" and risked failure to reach new heights of success. It's high time for color to help us go beyond safe boundaries and tried-and-true combinations. Not wild experiments, but brilliantly conceived new ideas. Just because we're adults, it does not mean we must be boring!
Shouldn't we be free to explore the possibilities and to give voice to new connections? Color can be that tool for self-expression and for conveying silent, yet forceful messages about freedom, acceptance of the unfamiliar and the desire to know more.
- Einstein: a very smart beige indeed and always a great equation for an honest neutral in a sea of pretenders.
- Earhart: an aqua not afraid to be itself, an only slightly cloudy blue sky for high flight—a long lost, complex, mysterious color.
- Kubrick: bad boy white becomes visual relief in a complex palette—the stark white of 2001 for a techno reality.
- Flw: Arts and Crafts burgundy from the master of simplicity—a tactile, workman-like, dependable color that works well to balance other deep colors.
- Dior: a misty purple tinted gray that's light and delicate, but with some body—a masterfully inspired direction for periwinkle.
- Eartha: a smoky, jazzy brown that's rich and warm like cognac in a snifter—finally, brown with sex appeal!
- Venus and serena: an athletic duo with no boundaries—a muscular combo of tinted gray and deep red that's bound to be a star in contract interiors.
- Green eggs 'n ham: Green on green you say! Seuss-like feeling of whimsy in green to the max! You would like them if you could see! You would like them in a tree!
At Solutia, we do more than just talk about color. Decades of research and development have resulted in 21st-century fiber technology. Richer color is our signature. Solutia's combination of polymer chemistry, and our unique blend of cross-sectional sizes and shapes, result in a fiber that, in addition to unsurpassed soil and stain resistance, provides saturated, infinite color choices. We strive to make fibers that work in any hue to add life and richness to the floor. Our commitment to being in the forefront of carpet color forecasting and technology drives every advancement we make and means our fibers show up in the best carpets for any project.
Kaye Goseline is director of contract carpet fibers for Solutia Inc. She has 25 years experience in construction and color development of carpet fiber, working closely with architects and interior designers to track trends in styling and color for contract interiors. Partner carpet mills also call on her technical and experiential expertise in the development of new carpet products. Goseline is an active participant in The Color Marketing Group (CMG), having served numerous times in various leadership positions including co-chair of the Contract Color Directions committee, and a three-year term on the board of directors. She continues to be a featured speaker for local, regional and national ASID, IIDA and NEWH functions.