This article below was originally slated to be published in a magazine, but at the last moment, got cut. So the tone is a bit more formal than you're used to from me. But first, an admission.
healthy skepticism. Really, it’s more of a frustration with the disparity between predicted color forecasts and concrete, useful color information. No one wants to coat his or her walls in Honeysuckle Pink … they just don’t.
With this in mind, I recently joined forces with five design colleagues, representing key regions from coast to coast, to start a new venture called Color Outlook™. We are producing quarterly podcasts offering an alternative solution to traditional forecasting. Our ultimate goal is to present what’s hot in color -right now- from design experts dealing with clients on a daily basis.
How did this come about? Back in March 2010, Color Budz producer Lori Sawaya invited Kelly Berg and me to record podcasts on color perspectives. Dubbed Color Podz, we wanted to explore topics on color and the built environment that interested and challenged us: from color psychology to color design. More than a year later, our podcasts have been downloaded more than 20,000 times. We got the sense that concrete, trustworthy information on color was greatly needed.
The reality is, anyone involved in the paint industry (paint retailer, manufacture, designer, or trend spotter) needs to know what is happening color-wise in the marketplace. The evolution of color trends is fleeting but relevant, and in today’s climate of customization, clients expect their needs and tastes will be met. The lightening fast pace of information transmission means consumers are savvier and more educated than ever before. They want to feel that service providers have their fingers on the pulse of what is happening right now.
Looking at the options for industry professionals to find timely data on what consumers are currently asking for, there’s a major disconnect between needs and solutions. Traditional trend forecasting reports are published 12, sometimes 18 months in advance, and are only educated guesses at what consumers will want, generally ignoring specific context. Then there are independent trend forecasters, but they focus primarily on merchandising, not interiors. Regional differences are another area that is overlooked; a designer in Florida is not going to use the same palette as someone in New England.
Those of us working on architectural spaces know it should be all about a person’s unique needs, rather than imposing the “latest and greatest” color on them. But to ignore patterns in clients’ interests would leave us color pros at a significant disadvantage.
image adapted from source
After fielding request after request for gray walls instead of beige, or after spec’ing a bright cherry red (like SW Positive Red) over and over again, I had to pay attention. What colors are homeowners looking at? What finishes are they ordering? A marketing rep sealed off in a cubicle isn’t going to have that kind of data. Lori Sawaya, Color Outlook’s executive producer, explains, “it is true that color consultants and designers working in the field are on the front lines of identifying the ebb and flow of how real people with real projects are thinking about color right now. I recognized the fact that trolling social media and scrolling through blog after blog, looking for these valuable nuggets… required trend spotters to invest a lot of time and effort.” That is where Color Outlook comes in.
In a pinch, paint retailers will know what colors to pull for seasonal displays. Designers will better understand the colors their clients are reaching for. Trend forecasters will have market data for their reports. Whether to gain a leg up on the competition or as a way to draw interest or increase sales, industry professionals need this kind of timely, concrete information.
Have you noticed a hole that needs to be filled in the paint and coatings industry? What special color services do you offer, or would you like to see developed?