WHAT COLOR WILL events be in the next few years? Using advice from experts, the New York-based Color Association of the United States forecasts color trends to aid designers, textile companies and manufacturers. Here, the association's director, Margaret Walch, shares her views on trendy hues.
SPECIAL EVENTS MAGAZINE: What are the forecasted color trends for 2004-06?
MARGARET WALCH: The Color Association's forecasts through 2006 indicate for lighter and more colorful designs, whether in clothing or in product. Certain colors are coming to the forefront — aquamarine and sky blues and teals, and a plethora of delightful yellows. A host of pinks and fuchsias represents the shift toward a bluer color palette. In women's fashion, purple shades — including lilacs, lavenders and fuchsias — will represent a strong trend beginning in spring of 2005.
Q: What forces are behind these trends?
A: Psychology and the economy are the two most important influences on the palette.
Q: In special events, we now see plenty of rich, jewel tones, intricate patterns and shimmery, luxurious fabrics. Will these trends continue?
A: The trend toward embellishment — in fabrics, garments, almost anything — is strong for the reason that we have been through almost two decades of minimal dress. People view embellishment as a delightful respite from the sameness of the basic and plain.
Q: What are some of the effects of world events, popular entertainment and other external elements on color directions?
A: High-visibility events such as the Oscars, a celebrity or a movie have impact on color and design directions. Almost anything that looks good — such as the recent super-flat graphics of the Japanese artist Takashi Murakami — does. However, of all the influences or events, the link with the economy is most direct. In a down economy color tends to be muted (reds are russets, for example) rather than vivid, and there is a favoring of neutrals such as navy blues, grays, beiges and black.
Q: The 2001 film “Moulin Rouge” had a great impact on event design — we saw many special events key on this exuberant, theatrical look. What visual elements of that film made it so appealing?
A: The film's director — Baz Luhrmann — is Australian, and I mention that because so much from Australia is fresh and new. My color memories of the film are red and black. This is not exactly a palette or a full spectrum. But I think what resonated is that it was a modern take on turn-of-the-century Paris. At the time [of the film's release], the momentum was just starting to take off for a whole Goth/Gothic movement, and the Goth element [of the film] was done just beautifully. The Goth/Gothic look has two extremes — from weird Victorian to quite romantic.
Q: Do color trends move in cycles?
A: Color tendencies definitely move in cycles. In a difficult economy, colors tend to be muted and the color cycle is slower. A fashion cycle is from two to five years; an interior design cycle runs from seven to 12 years. A color cycle has a look: 1960s brights, 1970s earth tones, 1980s black and minimalism, etc.
Q: Special events designers are always going for the “wow.” What are some ways that using color and color trends enables designers to do this?
A: The “wow” effect is achieved with difficulty in a design age. Here are some suggestions: Remove the clutter so that you can rivet someone's attention where you want it. Use color on a scale where it can be seen, as do retailers like Target that line up product upon product for high visibility. Show something unseen before; show something that tells an intriguing story and invites curiosity.
Q: How can event designers keep their eye for color fresh? Where should they look for inspiration?
A: If you ask a designer, which I am not, they always say it's everywhere, it's in the air. The key for inspiration is to keep your eyes open and ears open and look. I think L.A. is a futuristic city. New York is less so, but it is a seminal and idealistic city where ideas start. Urban centers are great. Travel is great. Almost anything can be inspiring.
Margaret Walch can be reached at the Color Association; call 212/947-7774 or visit www.colorassociation.com.