Timely and Timeless: Color Trends for 2011-2012
March 1st, 2011


The Color Association of the United States (CAUS) has been identifying these color trends since 1915. The CAUS 2011-2012 forecast for environmental and interior products refl ects constantly changing socio-economic factors, projecting a variable rather than a static palette. Manufacturers and consumers (both well aware of ongoing, rapid cultural changes) are seeking these new color perspectives. There are many intangible factors that contribute to the direction of color trends. These indicators are taken into account in determining not only which colors are trending, but also those that are established or declining.

Intangibles that influenced the 2011-2012 color forecast:

• The Economy. As always, the economy has a profound influence on the palette. Change and transition of hues is generally slower in a struggling economy, as temperance sets in. Color plays an important role during such times, as it allows us affordable pleasures.

• Sustainability. There is an emphasis on green products and a “back to basics” attitude is pervasive. The harvesting of nature’s bounty, as well as the interest surrounding raw materials, exhibit a heightened respect for nature.

• Simplicity. Streamlining has become the order of the day as we strive to simplify our lives. Techno-frustration contributes to this trend. There is increased interest in primitive design elements. Minimalism, although somewhat softened, continues.

• Cultural Hybrids. As the internet expands our worldly contact, there is a growing interest in multicultural crafts and customs. The quest for “one of a kind” has boosted cottage industries and popularized individual artisans. We see an intertwining of design inspirations and a nostalgic reinterpretation of past eras.

• The “New Luxury.” Luxury has taken on new meaning. The “new luxury” stresses the usefulness and purpose of design, honesty, refinement and natural elegance. Opulence is replaced by craft and understatement is preferred over ostentation. Straightforward design has increased appeal. Materialism is frowned upon. Status is no longer defined by the quantity of possessions, but rather by the quality of them. A “fewer but better” mentality prevails. Consumers looking for long-lasting value confirm this as they “invest in the best.”

• Optimism. While today’s values reflect a mix of optimism and skepticism, optimism is on the rebound, following a long period of sobriety


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