Color Forecasting

December 2013 Prof. Scarlet Leslie

Whether go you out to buy a new shirt, new shoes, a new handbag, or a new car, you cannot help but notice all the different colors available for each product.

Your nice colorful selection is courtesy of color forecasters. That's right, color forecasters. It is a color forecaster's job to follow color trends and predict which colors will be "hot" during the next season or the next year. Each company has its own color forecasters and the colors they choose may be slightly different from other companies, especially in different industries. Paint companies usually have a few more subdued color combinations ready for consumers compared to the bright, flashy colors seen on fashion runways.

Why is color forecasting necessary? With millions of colors to choose from, it is easier to design with a more limited palette. It also adds variety. I know I would make a horrible color forecaster because I would always pick some shade of blue. Color forecasters ensure that different colors are showcased each year. Just about anything from politics to pop music can serve as inspiration for color forecasters. For instance, biologists worrying about the decline of honeybees can lead to more honey-golden tones being used.

Color names are getting more and more creative. Potentially Purple is potentially a good choice. Which room would you paint Death by Chocolate? Does Jazzy Jade look better with Magic Potion or Dragon's Blood? The Pantone Color Matching System standardizes colors, making it possible and easier for different companies to match colors.

Pantone also announces a Color of the Year every December. (Also my excuse for turning this in late). The color of the year for 2014 is... Radiant Orchid! That does not mean you are obligated to follow suit. You can still wear last year's Color of the Year, Emerald. In the end, it is your decision if you prefer Obstinate Orange, Cheerful Whisper, Frozen in Time, or Nacho Cheese.