Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Color Karma for the Next Decade

Where will color go in 2010? What about the next decade? Will we be under the influence of trends or will the timeless powers of color rule? I’m sure you’ll agree that it will be both - and it all depends on many factors. The good thing about trends is that they inject new life into the color wheel. Yes, but what goes around comes around again and that’s my first take on color karma for the next decade.

Several trends gurus proclaim that mauve is back. It’s a subtle shifty hue that a painter described as “the color of a dead prostitute’s lips.” With that aside, here’s how I remember this color’s popularity in the past: The interiors of homes, offices, and even hospitals were drenched in mauve – and it was usually combined with teal (a blue-green). This new color combination was a sophisticated switch from the organic avocado and harvest gold hues that dominated the previous decade. Note: Pantone has declared that turquoise is the color for 2010.

Consider this: The mauving of America in the 80s followed the avocado refrigerator days of the 70s. Do the math:

Yellow-green / avocado: 1970s + 30 years = 2000 - through the decade
(Note: Shortly before the year 2000 yellow-greens became the cutting edge color for products and advertising.)

Mauve: 1980s + 30 years = 2010 - ?

In retrospect, it seems that one or two colors emerge as the most powerful new trends and this trend lasts about a decade. Also, after a color has dropped off the radar for at least 20 years, it’s a good time to resurrect it.

However, we live in a different world today. It’s so complex that no one dares to proclaim that any single color has the staying power for a decade. Alas! Those who dare to predict trends limit it to one year – as is the case with the recent proclamation by Pantone and others.

Time will tell.

In conclusion, I can now disclose my most recent project. The next generation of Xerox printers has debuted. I was part of an international team that came up with one color (the accent color for the front panel) for all the printers, from the small business models to the huge production machines. Guess what? It’s a classical color that was tweaked with subtle undertones for the next decade.

A word of advice for all aspiring colorists: Build a foundation in timeless color concepts. And have fun!