You've seen the headlines: "Color of The Year," "The Next It Color." These announcements by trend forecasters (even in this issue! ) let us know which colors will be fashionable, favored and just plain hot in a given year. But have you ever wondered how these forecasts are made? I know I have.
As designers, should we present – and if so, how? – these "trend" colors to our clients? Yes. But first and foremost, it's important to remember that color is a tool and just one element of an entire design. Color specifications need to meet our client's goals and tastes. However, understanding color trends gives us great insight into what's coming down the pipe, helping us create designs that are stylish and vibrant.
So what do color forecasters look for when determining trends? You may be surprised to learn that the main focus no longer points solely to the fashion runways in Paris and Milan. "We study information from many resources, such as current and predicted economic conditions, travel destinations, cinema, theater, trade shows, and various trend-watching organizations, websites and blogs," says Jackie Jordan, director of color marketing for Sherwin-Williams.
As far as how designers should use these hues, Jordan advises against reinventing the color wheel. "Forecast colors show the design community where colors are trending. Meaning we expect them to grow in popularity, but they may or may not be here today and gone tomorrow," she explains. "We encourage designers to consider these colors as additions to current trends and to incorporate them into existing palettes, rather than using them to create something entirely new."
This is a very useful insight because, as many designers know, it can be difficult to convince a client to go with something new or previously unseen. It can also be a challenge to get a sense for how clients are feeling and what they actually want, but this is another area where understanding color forecasts can assist us.