colour & design surgery…do world events influence color trends?

Karen Haller 01
Karen Haller

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This is part of the colour & design surgery series, answering questions from clients and readers.

Question: “Do world events influence color trends?”
– reader, Ke Robinson.

Answer: Great question. World events absolutely influence colour trends. It is one of the many factors trend forecasters take into consideration when deciding on a colour palette.

Global colour trend forecasters and colour professionals from a variety of industry sectors collaborate to create biannual global colour trend palettes. This is normally twice a year spring/summer and autumn/winter.

When they’re creating the trend colour palette they look at a number of influencing factors such as economics, social, political, technology and environmental.

The process can mean a trends colour palette could take around three years from conception to entering the mainstream market, so the colour trends we see today are usually a reaction to these factors identified two to three years prior.

regional trend colours
A global trends colour palette will also contain country/regional specific accent colours, which take into account local influencing factors, including colours that hold  cultural significance.

There is nothing to stop a designer introducing a colour in reaction to an event that is happening right now, which could easily start a fad, micro or macro trend.

If you enjoyed reading this article, you may also like to read other articles in the colour & design surgery series.

Image from Global Color Research

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  1. David Sneen on August 21, 2011 at 2:02 am

    Hi Karen,

    I was tickled to read your guest post on Alicia’s blog, about the color blue being used by the leaders. I have never thought of myself as an expert in decorating, but a deep blue background seemed right for my blog.

    Thanks for the vote of confidence!

    • admin on September 2, 2011 at 11:05 am

      Hi David, That’s great you feel aligned with your colours! Enjoy.

  2. Tamsin Fox-Davies on September 2, 2011 at 10:13 am

    This explains why some colours are so hot on the catwalks at certain times. I never did understand why all the designers would be using the same colour at the same time!

    • admin on September 2, 2011 at 11:24 am

      Trends forecasting is big business. There are a number of companies who are dedicated to this very specific aspect of colour.

  3. Keren Lerner on September 4, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    I wonder if the economic downturn had anything to do with the colour blocking trend – ie people needed cheering up! Fascinating!

    • admin on September 5, 2011 at 8:11 am

      Hi Keren,
      you’re spot on. One of the trends to come out of the economic downturn are the bright colours – as colour is an easy way to inject the feelings of happiness, optimism. Another one is upcycling, recycling. Another is personalisation – improve not move. All trends from the same event i.e. economic downturn but coming from different perspectives.

  4. Laura on September 7, 2011 at 8:47 am

    The mention of micro trend reminded me of the Tipping Point.
    Have you noticed any instances of where a micro colour trend started and then all of a sudden spread like wild fire?

    • admin on September 12, 2011 at 7:50 am

      Hi Laura,

      The colour that immediately springs to mind is lime green. There was only a hint of it in fashion, it proven popular and then we saw it creeping into interior accessories. Each season I see it more widely available…. if the popularity continues it could become a staple colour like we’ve seen with turquoise.

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