Every year I write something about the colors of the year. These are the colors chosen by the major paint companies and color forecasters in home decor and are supposed to show us the way for color considerations in our home.
Every time a new color of the year is forecast by the major color forecaster, Pantone, we can almost miraculously find it in the cushion selection at Winners, the bedding sets at Bed, Bath and Beyond, area rugs, sofas, lamps and sometimes we see it in shoes and handbags.
How does that happen? It’s orchestrated. We know that Pantone’s color of the year is sent out to the manufacturing world quite a while before the color announcement to the rest of us. That’s so the manufacturers can be ready with fabric, accessories, furniture, rugs and lamp shades in the color of the year.
“Color,” says Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams, “ acts as a guide in design, and our role as a paint company is to help educate our customers on what’s out there in the marketplace.” I know it sounds pessimistic, but that statement says, to me, that there is a real connection between what the consumers are offered for sale, and what the color forecasters say the color of those items should be.
Every major paint company chooses a color of the year. And sometimes — like last year with all the off-whites — their choices mirror what the public is asking for. But this year? Well, the colors range from Utra Violet to Caliente to Black Flame. (Or, purple, red and black.)
I really stopped and thought about this. I don’t know one client of mine who would choose any of those colors for the walls in her home. Except my niece who already has a black bedroom.
But generally speaking, the announcing of the colors of the year make those of us in the business of home decor buy a few magazines. Period. For the most part, we don’t run out and buy a bunch of stuff “ just in case,” and we don’t start showing the color of the year to our clients to the exclusion of any other color.
These colors are suggestions. And are supposedly based on extensive research and market awareness. Which is fine, but no one has asked anyone I know, in my private or professional circles, for their opinions, or for their input on the color forecast as they see it. Not one inquiry. In over 25 years.
So, how are these colors chosen? One color expert said she looked at Pinterest to get a feel for what consumers are looking at. Another walked down a few cosmetic isles in large department stores. A few years ago, Pantone’s color chooser let slip that her inspiration for the pale pink and pale blue colors of the year were from the dead flowers in her garden.
One color expert worked for several years in an office by herself, developing new colors. And then taking them to a board for discussion and vote — and that’s how the colors were chosen for her company.
But generally, each company says there is a laborious process, which can take years, in choosing a color of the year. Benjamin Moore’s color and design expert Andrea Magno. “We spend months researching and traveling around the world, attending design shows and picking up cues and influences from different industries, including fashion, art, and even politics. Then the next step is bringing that information back and determining what the common threads are between these different disciplines and areas of the world.”
And there it is. I’m still confused, too, but I’m not confused about the fact that if you like a color, it’s OK to use in your home. If you don’t like a color, don’t use it.
I didn’t write one last year. I remember I was so fed up with unrealistic colors being chosen, I boycotted. But I’m back. Can’t resist. Here are a few other years’ choices for you to marvel at: