Opposites Attract
January 1st, 2007

January-February 2007

By Barbara Schirmeister, ASID

In flooring, consumers are now open to more color and saturation—particularly when there is a complex interplay among color, hue, texture and sheen.

The saying, “opposites attract,” perfectly describes the personalities of the two main color directions for next year and beyond. For these hues not only attract, but complement one another, reflecting a balanced approach to the use of color in our environment. This is quite evident when we look at the 2007-2008 forecast for residential and commercial interiors from the Color Association of the United States, New York City (CAUS)—an organization which forecasts color trends for manufacturers of environmental and interior products.

The two main influences couldn’t be more opposite

On the one hand, we have Theatrics, which conjures up descriptive words such as fantasy, artificial, energetic, dramatic, exotic, mysterious, flamboyant and the desire for travel/escapism. Also, kinetic lighting, producing the exciting energy of color and light in motion, contributes to this direction.

Conversely, there is the Eco or Green Design Movement, which brings to mind all things natural, organic, real, relaxed, tranquil, simple, innocent, subtle and the trend to nesting. There is a fascination with animals in the wild, resulting in an upsurge in patterns and colors from the animal kingdom. This direction makes use of natural light to enhance the spectrum: Lots of glass or disappearing doors bring the outdoors in, affording views of nature; plus, full-spectrum lighting can replicate sunlight.

Looking at the new color palette, we see that candy-colored pastels, muddied hues and garish brights are declining. Overall, the warmth of the palette continues, reflecting the environmental influence and the shifting of interest to southern regions. Stark whites, for instance, are being replaced with colored off-whites and mid-tone neutrals. Brights are softer, rich yet subdued. Colors in general are more saturated, more weighted.

The darks, very absent since 9/11, are back. There are many saturated, luxurious deep hues, as well as the emerging blackened colors, such as bluish-charcoal, seaweed, rusted iron and Concord grape.

Texture and textural effects continue to add new dimensions to color—nothing is flat; depth of color can also be achieved through saturation, reflection, colored lighting and special effects. The new darks are enhanced with sheen and sparkle. Embroidery and crystals, riding on the popularity of glass, add shimmer. Colors appear crystallized. Many wall coverings have the effect of sparkling, beaded glass. Paint often has texture or a layered effect, with metallic and pearl finishes being used as a glaze over matte and eggshell finishes. In flooring, consumers are now open to more color and saturation—particularly when there is a complex interplay among color, hue, texture and sheen. Crossville’s new Buenos Aires Mood series of Porcelain Stone tile, for example, has three surface textures, subtle shading and saturated color that flows from tile to tile with great fluidity.

Eco-colors and “green” products are growing in popularity in all markets, signaling increasing consumer awareness of environmental concerns, including global warming. For 2007-2008, the palette is anchored by colored neutrals and neutralized colors, used on their own or as a background to mid-tones. Within the neutral palette, an emphasis is on the brown family, by far the most important of the new neutrals; also watch for the soft greens, golds, off-whites, weathered grays and the metallics with silver, bronze, gold and copper tones.

The following color families will take center stage in 2007-2008

The brown family expands, forming an entire new palette with chromatic undercurrents—taupe, toast, chocolate, bronze, coffee bean, raisin, and the mid-tone caramels.

A family in itself, copper’s rich tones range from apricot to terracotta to deep rust. Not only a metal that can be burnished or polished, copper is a “color” found in natural leather, autumn leaves and clay. It is now appearing on many furnishings products, from paint to luxurious upholstery fabrics.

Saturated reds, playful pinks and exotic purples. While hues in the red family are not considered eco-colors, they can be theatrical colors, delivering warmth, excitement and punch.

Wonderful blues: In addition to the deep blues, there are more tranquil blues on the horizon, with new tones emerging.

Yellowed greens, the cleaner, olive tones and a multitude of complex new bronzes that can shift in color.

The golds remain extremely important. Watch for glowing gold tones such as rich camels, deep ambers and many burnished shades of both green and red gold.

Individualism is the key; there is something for everyone in this year’s color forecast. Whichever color direction consumers or specifiers take, their overriding goal will be to create a unique look—color combinations that are true and meaningful for their individual lifestyle or project. Yet, despite a growing consumer and specifier demand for more color choices, the experts agree that the mid-tones will dominate in popularity. These emerging mid-tones are pleasing to the eye, easy to work with and very livable.

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.

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