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Economy-conscious colors for 2010: Earthy escapes

Casual Living Industry News

There is not much that remains untouched by the heavy foot of a down economy, and trend forecasters are in agreement the downturn will be one of the key influences on color palettes for 2010.

The four palettes for the 2010 forecast examine coping methods for weathering the economic storm.

The first focuses on playing it safe, which translates into a palette dominated by neutrals.

The next grouping delves into the idea of a total escape, glancing to the far-off exoticism of Africa, Russia and Dubai. Lustrous metallics and spicy tones populate the spectrum of this palette.

Following is a grouping that represents a complete backlash to the norm. This palette encourages experimentation and innovation, yielding a daring array of unexpected brights.

Completing the forecast is an assembly of vegetable colors and earthy tones that represents the times by the turning to nature and immediate surroundings to get by.

Safe haven

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"Historically, when money is tight and there is a concern for the longevity of a given color, people have a tendency to play it safe with neutrals," said Leatrice Eiseman, Pantone Color Institute's executive director.

In general, that usually applies to bigger ticket items like large furnishings and carpeting, she said, but "nevertheless, neutrals will continue to be an important part of the decision-making process for items within the home."

Pantone's take on this palette is titled Tinged Neutral. The tones are considered the most directional neutrals for 2010 and include Olive Gray, Taupe Gray, Silver

Gloster's Eclipse Collection coffee table spotlights a driftwood-colored woven all-weather wicker base with a midnight ceramic table top.

Gray, Charcoal Gray, Tea, Bog, Champagne Beige and Angora.

"Some are tinged with green or blue, and there is, as always, a classic off-white," Eiseman said. Neutrals also begin to venture in a new direction with touches of luster as seen with Champagne Beige, she added.

Due to economic uncertainty, people are looking for colors that they perceive to be safe, said Michelle Lamb, editorial director of The Trend Curve.

Lamb translates this to mean deep colors, such as Nautical Navy because people trust deep, sophisticated hues.

iPANEMA collection from kingsly bate
Designed by Glyn Peter Machin, the Ipanema Collection sectional from Kingsley-Bate blends Danish modern styling with a transitional Western design aesthetic. Constructed of solid teak, the sectional showcases tan cushions with chocolate accent pillows.

"We want to be careful not to repeat the past and to stay away from boring," Lamb said.

Hues in this grouping exude a powerful energy, more so than just typical burgundy and hunter green, Lamb said. Expect neutrals to have a chameleon-like effect. Neutral shades will change based on what tones are placed next to it, Lamb added.

"Neutrals are thought of as a blank canvas and they become pivotal as they sit between two groups," said Leslie Harrington, executive director of The Color Association.

Texture plays just as an important role in the palette as color, she said.

"Color names such as Zinc, Stone, Mica and Silt remind us that these are materials found in nature, where color and texture are inseparable elements," Harrington said.

The Color Association predicts grays will gain importance and become the neutral of the 2010 season. "There is a noticeable shift toward browns becoming more taupe with several variations appearing in the group, each containing subtle differences," Harrington said.

Great escape

The visible effects of the uncertainty of the times also are playing out in palettes that reveal the need to take a mental or physical break from the here and now. This translates into hues that breathe exoticism and luxury.

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A palette titled The New Luxury explores this concept, according to Benjamin Moore's 2010 Color Pulse. "Dubai, Russia and China assert their New World wealth in stunningly lavish spectacles. Never before designed or erected architectural statements blanket the physical and cultural landscapes, commanding attention and getting it." The group examines lifestyles exclusive to the norm as "the demand for 'only me' displays of wealth are creating remarkable authentic 'one-offs.'"

The lavish Log cocktail table from The Phillips Collection
The lavish Log cocktail table from The Phillips Collection is drenched in a shimmering gold leaf finish.

The New Luxury palette discuses the idea of glamour camping or glamping, which "beckons those who wish to enjoy the gifts of nature but with the ultimate on-demand comfort of high-end convenience," the Color Pulse said.

Shades in New Luxury are deep and rich with sophisticated depth. "Bold translucency and art-inspired brights contrast against beige grounds," according to the Color Pulse. Colors include Gold Metallic, Glowing Umber, Summer Plum, Blue Macaw, Wild Orchid, Persian Violet and Granite. In terms of textures, luster, embellishment, metal, lacquer, feathers, quilted velvet, satin and leather are trend-right.

zebra rug

Spicy tobacco and brown combine to form an exotic animal print on the 100% acrylic Zebra rug from Laneventure's Outdoor Living Collection.

Pantone's Gatherings palette, inspired primarily by the continent of Africa with its vastness and complexities, brings together a compilation of colors that demonstrate the uniqueness of the region, Eiseman said. The colors in the palette are reflective of the creative boldness of artifacts and handicrafts. Spicy hues such as Lemon Curry and Copper Coin mix with Cypress Green, Smoke Blue, Sand, Oasis, Lion and Twilight Mauve.

The Trend Curve forecasts an exotic, bohemian trend with spiked interest in Russia for 2010. "This adds a nice new layer," Lamb said. "It can be busy, exotic and luxurious."

Bohemian as the new ethnic trend eclipses both Asian and African styles, Lamb said.

"Metallics will take on new shades and soften in some cases," Lamb said, adding basic gold will transform into effervescent champagne tones, and silver will morph into platinum and pewter.

Radical rules

"In today's challenging economic climate you need colors and designs that are fresh and exciting to get the consumer's attention and to get them to buy," Lamb said. "The best defense against slow sales is innovative designs."

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Benjamin Moore's 2010 Color Pulse palette titled Ingenuity is about passion, creativity, free-form perspectives, redefining, renewing and re-purposing.

"Innovation advances common materials with an element of fun and alternative thinking ... and suddenly, you have a new culture," the Color Pulse stated. It is about outside-the-box thinking, with the overriding mentality that there never really was a box to begin with. "Print mania

and graphic-pattern frenzy mix unexpected motifs from natural to tech influences."

three coins set
Rainbow-bright hues saturate the dining set from Three Coins Castings.

Ingenuity colors are sporty with glimmering metallic undertones. Prismatic shades abound in this daring array of hues including Salsa, Mesquite, Mauve Bauhaus, Yellow Finch, Seaweed, Bronze Metallic, Hummingbird, Midnight Navy and Fairview Taupe. Ombre effects, refined graffiti and alternative materials are present.

Veneman chair
Veneman's Beidermeier chair flaunts a brilliant façade in shocking shades of orange and pink.

Pantone Color Institute's palette titled Pastiche is reflective of the "continuation of the irreverent direction that has been and continues to be influenced by Japanese anime — a movement that has made major inroads into the world of design and color," Leatrice Eiseman said. Pastiche is marked by an incongruous combination of materials and colors. "This palette illustrates not only a collection of unexpected styles, but colors as well."

Combinations such as soft lavender and Absinthe Green partner with Chipmunk Brown. Or that same shade of brown can be mixed with Mimosa Yellow, Strawberry Ice and docile Little Boy Blue. The pairings are idiosyncratic with Bright Cobalt, Tangerine and Duffel Bag Gray being another option.

Lamb also noted the continuing influence of anime and manga (Japanese comics) on color palettes for 2010. The Trend Curve created a collection titled Cosmic Brights to represent the trend's presence. "The colors are really surreal with a comic feeling," said Lamb.

Natural embrace

"As we enter a new decade, the importance of sustainability is still at the forefront," said Harrington of The Color Association. "The concept of eco-friendly as a trend is replaced with the belief that it is a responsibility."

Overlapping botanical motifs make a fresh statement on the outdoor art from Paragon.

Gardening has emerged as America's No. 1 hobby, Harrington said, and farmers markets and shopping at whole foods stores are gaining in popularity. "Organic living is critical for many and not a luxury but a must," she said, which is having a visible impact on colors for 2010.

The Color Association forecasts vegetable colors, plant colors and soil colors to showcase Mother Nature in her full glory. "Earthy colors do not always have to directly translate into earth tones or a dull palette of color," Harrington said. "They can in fact be colors full of life and vitality."


Eiseman said, "The need for healthier and more artisanal foods has grown from traditional farmers markets to greenmarkets. Found on country roads or urban lots, these visually appealing and taste tempting sites invite us to stop and sample a broader and more diverse selection of goods and goodies."

Pantone's Greenmarket palette includes colors such as Tomato Puree, Vanilla Ice, Chutney, Paprika, Dijon, Apple Green, Super Lemon, Peach Blossom and Beaujolais. The colors entice and appeal to both the eyes and taste buds, Eiseman said.


Vegetable-inspired hues punctuate the Rain or Shine Tropical Foliage rug from AMS Imports.

The Genesis palette from Benjamin Moore's 2010 Color Pulse focuses on the questions: What's in it? How does it work? Where does it all begin?

The colors in Genesis include enduring green and yellow. "Monochromes abound in colored and earthen neutrals," the Color Pulse states. Hues are reflective of indigenous colors extracted from fruit and vegetables and lush tones mirroring nature's own bounty. In terms of textures, Genesis explores paper, felt, hay, bark, pattern on pattern, florals, bio matter and cardboard.

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