How is it that we can look at a washing machine that is Harvest Gold and instantly date it to the 70’s? Or say “Santa Fe colors” and know that we’re speaking of a greenish teal, terra cotta, sage green and mauve? The answer is color forecasting. Each year a number of color experts meet (there are many forecasting organizations) and discuss the direction that colors are taking based on their observations of popular culture, political and economic climates and emerging trends. Out of these meetings come color forecasts which help guide colors for interiors, consumer goods, fashion and cosmetics. For example, recent focus on the environment brought a number of blue and green colors symbolizing Earth to the forefront. Gray became prominent during and after the financial meltdown for its sobriety and seriousness. It’s a very interesting discipline made even more fascinating by this retrospective of the last 100 years of color titled Pantone: The Twentieth Century in Color by Leatrice Eiseman and Keith Recker. The authors, both well-known color forecasters, take each decade of the 20th century and distill a number of important trends and movements in fashion, art and politics illustrating color palettes from each one. Their palettes run from Edwardian to Bauhaus to World War II, James Dean and on to Abstract Expressionists, Urban Cowboys, Grunge, Anime to Future Forecasts. Each palette has a series of color chips that have the Pantone colors on them for reference.
The book represents 100 years in 80 color palettes and 500 colors plus an extensive bibliography. It’s a lot of fun to see how colors have changed and continue to evolve. I borrowed a copy from my public library, but Powell’s Books and Amazon and your local book store can all supply it for purchase. Be inspired!