Curious about Color

Per Nimer is paid to be nosey.  His day-job is people-watching, sitting in cafes and watching the world go by, window-shopping, flicking through fashion magazines, watching films.  As he says, “If you want a job like mine, you need to be naturally curious about everything.” 

However, his work is far more demanding than it appears.  As AkzoNobel’s Design Manager, it is Nimer’s job to predict future colors for our paint ranges.  And, as he points out, it’s not just a simple task of thinking what colors might be fashionable; it’s about finding trends.  “It’s about trying to figure out where we are today and what that means for the next natural step.  It’s about looking at all sorts of events, happenings, ideas  -  political, cultural, fashion, design  -  and trying to find connections, the common themes.  And then thinking, if this is true, what will it mean for color?”

The overall theme for 2010 was ‘Reclaim’.  As Nimer explains, amidst our current political and economic upheavals, we’re looking for a return to stability, a return to reality, but also the opening of new opportunities.  “We need to reclaim our finances, our environment, our lives.”  This main theme breaks down into five color trends.

The first is ‘Void’ which conveys feelings of hope, transparency and new possibilities and is expressed in shades of blues and mineral greys.  This is closely allied to the second theme, ‘Flux’, which suggests an openness to change, ideas, fluidity  -  represented by fresh, pure, colors such as fiery red and soft violet.

Our ongoing concern with the environment is expressed in ‘Trust’, a range of natural, subtle colors such as sage green and sand gold.  “It’s all about nature  -  which is ‘real’ and can be trusted  -  and about ‘home’,” explains Nimer.  “Not homes being a showcase, as they once were, but about being comfortable and safe.  Just look at all the bars and cafes that now have couches; it’s about mimicking the safe, home environment.”

In a similar vein, the ‘Misfit’ theme is a reaction to the ‘over-design’ of the last 10 years, where every surface was meticulously detailed.  “Perfection is not interesting; what is not perfect is more interesting,” says Nimer.  “So now we get things that are deliberately badly designed, to create an effect.”  Not surprisingly, this range of colors is all about attitude and shocking and includes colors such as juicy purple and bright tangerine.

The final theme, ‘Reference’, reflects our search for stability whether that’s from classic architecture or the nurturing warmth of feminism.  Nimer points to the increasing rise of female networking, as an example of the latter.  Colors in this range include dusty pinks, antique lace and sepia browns.