Green Interiors

New "Eco" Color Trends
by Pamela Portwood

People seek out professional interior designers for different reasons. They can't figure out where to place their furniture in oddly shaped rooms. They need to renovate their home, or they have bought a new house, but they don't have the time or inclination to transform those empty rooms into a beautiful, comfortable home.

One of the most common reasons people turn to interior designers is color. As an interior designer, I've heard many horror stories of people painting the same wall over and over in different colors in search of the right color.

If you have problems with color, take comfort in the fact that setting a color palette is one of the greatest challenges in interior design. Having a good sense of color is important, but professional designers also draw on color theory, experience and trade information.

People often ask me what colors are in fashion, but I generally don't recommend buying major furniture items in trendy colors or patterns that will quickly become dated. Yet changing paint colors and accessories is a fun and inexpensive way to change a home's look.

An interesting trend in color forecasting is environmentalism's influence on color palettes.

Two industry organizations - the Color Marketing Group and the Pantone Color Institute - forecast color trends. Both groups predict color palettes that will be used throughout the design industry, including fashion, interior and industrial design.

They base their forecasts on everything from the colors being used now by high-end designers to current and predicted social, economic and cultural forces in America and abroad.

In their news release predicting 2009 color trends, the Color Marketing Group (CMG) cites concerns about the economy, a spirit of unification fostered by the election and "the demand for colors and products that reflect an environmentally 'greener' world." They also predict this demand not as a trend, but as "a given." This is the third year in a row that the CMG has cited environmentalism as a force in determining their color palette.

So, what are the 2009 colors? "Blue is the new green," according to the CMG. Looking to watery blues and sky blues symbolizes Americans' commitment to a greener world. CMG's other colors for 2009 include: cool browns and grays, energetic yellows, whites for businesses, the amazing return of a dusty mauve and bright Asian accents.

Pantone has issued eight color palettes for 2009, three of which are linked to environmentalism. In a video overview of their forecast, Lee Eiseman, the Institute's executive director, said that "eco-awareness (is) a resounding theme" with consumers.

Pantone's "Solar Energy" palette features flame oranges, purplish wines, electric blues, gold yellows, fuchsia reds and ashy grays. Their "Honesty" palette features the muted tones of vegetal dyes. Their "Breathe Easy" palette references environmentalism in drawing on the blue of a cloudless day.

Pantone chose "Mimosa," a warm yellow, as their 2009 "Color of the Year" because yellow expresses hope and reassurance in these economically and politically uncertain times. The CMG selected purple as their "must have" color of the year, citing it as an election year blend of red and blue.

Although the top colors are different, both speak to the symbolic and emotional power of color. If changing the paint in our homes seems silly in the face of today's many crises, think of the power of symbolism and hope as well as the joy that comes with creating a fresh start in a new place.

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Article is reprinted courtesy of The New Southwest (formerly Tucson Green Times).


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