| Mar 4, 2013 |
What goes into the process of color forecasting?
Boh staff
By Staff

With spring right around the corner and new collections popping up all over, one thing is really on the industry’s mind, and that’s color. Many color trends and forecasts have been released for the year ahead, but what does it all mean? Editor at Large had the chance to dig through some color forecasts and speak with some experts on the subject.

Back in December, Pantone revealed the ‘2013 Color of the Year’ as Emerald green. For more than a decade, Pantone’s Color of the Year has influenced product development and purchasing decisions in multiple industries, including fashion, home and industrial design, as well as product packaging and graphic design.

Brentano's Rasbperry and Periwinkle

Also in December, Brentano, an internationally represented textile house, revealed its six color picks for 2013: Periwinkle, Raspberry, Graphite, Saffron, Sapphire and Linen. Benjamin Moore also announced its color of the year, which is Lemon Sorbet.

Major fabric and textile companies including Kravet, Lee Jofa and Brunschwig & Fils often do their own color forecasting, while some companies and showrooms look to Pantone and other forecasts for guidance when designing a new collection.

So, how should the design professional make sense of all these different color directions? According to ColorClicks strategic color and trend analyst Patricia Call, it all boils down to great research.

“Research, research, research,” said Call. “That is the way to turn up the heat in color forecasting. Look at the economy, politics, entertainment, transportation, architecture, globalization, healthcare, fashion, food, sociology, lighting, innovation, material innovation, art, sports and a myriad of external input. Reference historical precedents and then focus on new input.”

According to Stephen Elrod, executive vice president and chief creative director for Lee Jofa and Brunschwig & Fils, designers can do their own research and follow other forecasts as well.

“Much of our color forecasting begins in our New York City design studio,” said Elrod. “Our team of in-house designers looks at what’s going on in the fashion world, what our customers are reacting to in our own current color offerings, and then we just rely on our gut. We meet as a team and assess each color and each palette and ultimately decide on four or five palettes for a given season of product. We also consult with outside color forecasters, including the Color Association of the United States (CAUS), which conducts bi-annual home color forecasts.”

Call also creates personalized forecasts for her clients based on their specific likes and needs. “A trend starts as a unique blip in your surroundings, that is then picked up by adventurous individuals and then everyone else. Initially, I identify two to five trends that drive colors, then I conduct interviews with clients to identify preferences.”

According to Elrod, color is one of the most important things in design, so he and his creative team really take the process seriously.

“A change of color or color palette can completely change the mood and the potential application of a fabric or pattern,” said Elrod. “A classic floral pattern is typically multicolored and very vibrant. By recreating the same pattern in a monochromatic palette reminiscent of toile, for example, the mood totally changes. Each version works differently and ultimately affects the way the entire room comes together.”

So, what final advice do Elrod and Call have about choosing the right colors and forecasts?

“Find a service whose process you trust and see if the forecast works for you,” said Call. “If too many trends are offered they do not qualify as forward thinking. Remember not all clients are trend driven. Match the forecast to the client’s aesthetic and goals.”

“Learning the likes and dislikes of the client is the first place to start, that is a given,” said Elrod. “Beyond that, color selection varies based on the style the room that’s being designed. If you’re doing a traditional room, you typically start with the rug and take color inspiration from that. If the goal is a more modern space, take color inspiration from the client’s art collection. For a country cabin, take inspiration from the surrounding nature and color palette of the landscape.”

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