I have often wondered who decides that, for instance, grey is going to be the ‘in’ colour for any given year, or indeed, for any type of furnishing. Or maybe who predicted it would be trendy to have avocado green bathroom suites or brown and orange carpets in the past?

I was curious. Perhaps I could make some money by such a wild prediction, but it turns out they are not wild or accidental predictions at all.

How do these trends start? Apparently designers come together to establish trends with colour forecasts. They bring ‘moodboards’ to meetings, for not only colours but for how they see people want to feel.

Psychological impact

It is a well-known fact that the reason many restaurants are painted red is because the color red can make you hungry. Green is a colour often used in hospitals and waiting rooms because it makes people feel restful, peaceful and secure. People paint their bedrooms blue because blue can have a calming effect, and yellow is said to promote happiness more than any of the other major colours. Some custody cells in police stations are painted pink, as this apparently has a calming effect on disruptive prisoners. The psychology behind colour is intriguing.

Colour has been known to have a powerful psychological impact on people’s behavior and decisions, and this knowledge has been utilised in marketing psychology by both designers and marketing experts. Such is their influence, colour can often be the sole reason someone purchases a product, perhaps because it is seen as ‘fashionable’ or ‘trendy’. In a survey, close to 85% claim colour is a primary reason when they make a purchase!

Very Peri

So, how do they come up with a particular colour to be a ‘must have’ (2021 was ‘Ultimate Grey’ apparently), and according to Pantone, ‘Very Peri’ – a lovely shade of periwinkle blue – will allegedly be ‘the’ colour for 2022.

And who is allowed to have that much power? Well, it isn’t just one person, there are several organisations involved. One called the Colour Marketing Group, which is a forum for the exchange of all things colour, is a group that have been turning their shared passion for colour into business opportunities across all industries. Among other leading forecasting groups with similar ideas are the Pantone Color Institute and the Akzo Nobel Global Aesthetic Center (Dulux). By all accounts, they wield the greatest influence over a broad range of design industries, from fashion to graphic design products to interior design, and set seasonal colour trends.

With a broad spectrum of designers, marketing specialists, colour scientists, consultants, educators and artists, they take into account regional and local colour differences too – for instance colour trends might well differ on two different sides of a country. Their members come together at local and international colour forecasting events to interpret, create, forecast, and select colours with the goal of enhancing manufactured goods and services. By collaborating, they better identify the direction of colour and design trends, and then that information is suggested across various industries.

A selection of major paint brands are also influential. Their colour choices set the tone for our homes in the slightly longer-term, and there are also specialist forecasters that cater to specific industries such as car manufacturing. These industries require colour forecasts as much as two to three years in advance to facilitate particular design and manufacturing processes.

Colour trends are all around us, and sometimes it is luck that something catches on, but mostly it seems it is engineered by the experts. They affect the clothes we wear, the furniture we buy, and the way we decorate our homes. Some colours may be popular year after year (neutrals and natural colours spring to mind), and some move on. It seems most trends just happen at the right time and affect the right people, gaining mass appeal across the classes - with a little nudge from the experts who steer us into a new wave of colour every year.

I wonder who will produce the first toaster in ‘Very Peri’?