Color: Simple Pleasures

So you think predicting color trends is browsing magazines, watching catwalk shows and checking out Lady GaGa latest outfit?  For a start, you’re too late (2011’s colors were chosen two years ago); second, colors are about more than fashion; and Lady Gaga, charming though she is, lives in her own little bubble.  Color is much bigger and more diverse than just color.  “Ideas can come from anywhere,” says Per Nimer, AkzoNobel’s Design Manager.  “I look at lifestyle, the economy, politics.  My antennae are out all the time.” 

Nimer is always looking for common themes and threads.  “It’s a question of joining up the dots to get the whole picture,” Nimer, never without his notebook, absorbs ideas like a sponge.  Then, every autumn, he invites leading international designers, architects and color consultants to identify the key movements in color, the results distilled into Trend Books for each AkzoNobel market sector.

The key theme for 2011 was ‘Appreciation’.  “It’s a reflection of the times we’re in -  financial turmoil, threat of terrorism, global warming,” explains Nimer.  “These problems make us more appreciative of what we actually have.” 

Under this dominant theme are five inter-related trends, with their own distinctive colors.  ‘The Beauty of Everyday Life’ interprets the small things around us, simple everyday tasks  -  baking cakes, children’s picnics.  Colors are simple pastels, country greens, sunny yellows. 

The second theme is ‘Finding the Way’. “Color has long been used for directional purposes in maps, airports, street signs”, says Nimer. Both maps and urban signage are reflected in this range of neutral grays and bolder primary colors.

Simplicity also brings a love of childlike pleasures; the instant, bright, full of surprise (Nimer indicates the recent craze for pop-up restaurants, galleries, or 3-D films).  So, in this ‘Pop up Pleasure’ range expect zingy greens or sherbet yellows. 

‘Made with Love’ is simply about the pleasure we get from creating objects knowing, also, that this is more environmentally responsible, so think earthy hues, clay and wood tones. 

The final theme, ‘Molecular Magic’, focuses on the natural world, but in magnified close-up: bacteria or microscopic organisms.  An alien world where art and science collide producing saturated turquoises and purples. 

But 2011’s colors are not just about the visual, says Nimer.  “Appreciation is also about the tactile.  If you really appreciate something, you want to touch it.  Tactile finishes are important this year.  It’s all part of that homemade feeling.”  As you see, there is far more to color than color.