The Luxury of Color
September 1st, 2005


By Barbara Schirmeister, ASID
September-October 2005

Color is our most affordable luxury. This is even more in evidence when we look at the 2006-2007 forecast for residential and commercial interiors from the Color Association of the United States, New York City (CAUS)—an organization that forecasts color trends for manufacturers of environmental and interior products.

The color direction for 2006-2007 reflects the trend toward glamour and elegance, which is currently at the forefront of fashion as well as interior design. Throughout 2005, glamour and elegance have had a strong showing in New York City: design buildings created events on the theme, and luxury was much in evidence at Kips Bay, NYC’s premiere designer showhouse. But this is not your grandmother’s idea of glamour and elegance; on the contrary, the colors for its new reincarnation are celebratory—very up and full of youthful exuberance—quite the opposite of stuffy. The colors are clear, as in true; they are pleasing hues—saturated, pretty to look at, playful and indulgent. The palette is reminiscent of the precious, luxury fabrics and materials of the 18th and 19th centuries: think damasks, faded silks, and the patina of crushed velvets and antique silver. Metallics are still strong, but they have moved toward luster.

All colors are viable. The character of the color is what changes—the brightness, value preference, saturation, texture and so forth. For example, bone is now the “new white” and sepia is emerging as the “new black.”

The newest neutrals are found in the brown family: from pale latte to camel and caramel to mocha, cocoa and chocolate. These new browns are used as a foil for other more “stand-out” colors. This will be predominant in interior décor as it is now in fashion, where you see khaki with pale aqua or dark chocolate with the right shade of pink.

There is also a strong red story—from azalea to raspberry to watermelon to the corals. We’ll see all ranges of the classic red family, both orange—and purple-influenced reds. The orange was certainly spurred on by the Cristo Gates in NYC’s Central Park, which created a saffron orange frenzy.

In general, a somewhat warmer palette will prevail. Cool color schemes will be balanced by warm hues, making minimalism friendlier. Using tonalities of one color family will look new and dynamic.

In tile and floorcoverings, the lighter palette is declining in popularity, as consumers and specifiers lean toward more color and saturation. These new mid-toned naturals, from cocoa and noce to the deeper chocolate browns, will provide the perfect background for more colorful, playful accents. Today, flooring often mixes the neutral and playful colors together; for instance, the American manufacturer, Crossville, has introduced a Porcelain Stone® product called Color Blox: 20 saturated colors designed to complement one another or coordinate with carpeting and carpet tiles by Bentley Prince Street.

The water and air colors remain strong, influencing the current trend of glass and transparency. This has resulted in wondrous glass tile products and a beautiful new palette of “crystallized colors”—icy blues, frosted pinks and shimmering whites.

There is a growing interest in matte and gloss combinations—visual texture. In the tile industry, many variations of texture, both visual and tactile, are offered. Texture is definitely perceived as value-added and affords many different effects of the same hue. It is a vehicle for heightening the depth and dimension of color. In fact, there are very few products on the market, in any category, which are totally flat in appearance.

Just as the gap in color design between residential and contract has narrowed, the gap is also closing between mass market and upscale tile retailers. The Internet, television, movies and magazines spread design trends quickly at all levels.

With so much unrest in the world, we are using color to escape, relax and find serenity. Color offers an inherent therapy, the ability to soothe, calm, uplift and excite us. Hospitality environments are often brilliant in their use of color to promote a desired response, particularly “come hither” colors that draw us in and create a joyful ambiance.

Finally, as the world experiences a continuing economic flux, we can always depend on the luxury of color—the one design element that won’t break the bank.

Internationally renowned color expert Barbara Schirmeister, ASID, has been a longtime member of the Color Association of the United States (CAUS) Interiors Committee, helping to formulate the annual Environmental/Interiors Forecast palette. She has served for many years as color consultant to a number of major companies, including Crossville, Inc.; American Standard; Unisys; Motorola; Pantone; Eastman Kodak and Hunter Douglas, among others.


CERSAIE 2005 Preview
September 1st, 2005

New Products and Innovative Designs on Display

September-October 2005

Cersaie 2005, the world’s largest international exhibition of ceramic tile and bathroom furnishings, is just around the corner. The show, which will be held at the Bologna Fairgrounds from September 27 – October 1, will feature over 1000 exhibitors from 35 countries and boasts 156,000 square meters of exhibitor space.

Industry professionals from around the world will have a chance to see the best new introductions from Italy’s leading producers of Italian tile—making Cersaie the premier place to see the latest Italian trends in color, format, technology and style.

Cersaie 2005 will include the third annual design symposium entitled Markitecture—Value in Architecture—organized by Assopiastrelle in conjunction with BolognaFiere (Bologna Fairgrounds). The program, which focuses on material experimentation and innovative applications and techniques, will feature lectures by leading architects and designers as well as a new central pavilion entitled “ Cersaie Village .” Designed by Italian architect Massimo Iosa Ghini, the new space will feature five colorful organic mini-pavilions. In addition to an information point and a meeting point, the centerpiece will also include three architectural exhibits:

Ceramica e Riqualificazione Urbana – A multi-media exhibit of the work generated by a national competition of Italian architects’ designs for urban centers.

Exercises in Architecture – This exhibit will highlight fifteen-cutting-edge projects, from tiles that glow to those that are climate controlled, designed by student/manufacturer teams working at architectural and design schools through CUMULUS, the European Association of Universities and Colleges of Art and Design Media.

Futuro Remoto – This display will showcase antique tiles from the Emilia Romagna region
(Sassuolo and Faenza ).

Assopiastrelle commissioned David Palterer, architect, designer and professor of Architectural Design at Milan Polytechnic to create a new image for this year’s show. Palterer’s innovative design plays with three-dimensional volumes and shapes—all of which can be clad with ceramic tiles. In fact, his design for the Cersaie 2005 poster will come to life during the show in a display of tile-covered structures.

For additional information on Cersaie 2005, visit or

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