Archive for June, 2009

Color Trends for 2009/2010

tren_avat_01_mEvery year color trends are announced…for fashion, for cars, for residential design. I’m always very curious about these. One, I wonder about the process of determining these trends and two I like to see how I’m doing, as a designer, in staying with or ahead of the trends.

Recently I attended a presentation on color for 2009/10 by one of the large paint manufacturers. The parent company of said paint manufacturer has a division that researches and determines color trends for everything from the fashion industry to airlines and car manufacturers to their very own paint. Without going into too much detail, they look at many cultural, political and social influences to determine what we will want in the coming years. It is probably no surprise that most trends, color and otherwise start on the runway. Yes, fashion designers lead the way. From the time designs are shown during Fashion Week, it is 6–12 months for those designs to hit the stores. It is then another 3–5 years for those trends to translate into residential design.

So where are we headed? In the post-911 period, were cocooning, we wanted colors that were soft, safe and comfortable. This was the time of pink and chocolate brown. 2 years ago were gong out more, feeling more confident and secure. Colors started getting brighter – lots of oranges, bright greens and yellows. Today we are anchoring, we feel insecure…the world around us is uncertain. We are watching romantic movies and spending our hard-earned dollars on small luxuries. So for the next couple of years our colors will be grounded in the earth and looking to the sky. We want to feel terra firma supporting us, yet we are looking forward, upward – toward the next phase.

How does all of this translate into our homes? Four basic trends emerge…

tren_wond_01_mEarth: we are grounding ourselves in the basics. In this case looking back to industry…basic machinery, standard materials and true craftsmanship. The palette is made up of patinaed browns, industrial blues and greens. They are sturdy and honest. And connecting with our life’s journeys – spiritual, cultural, philosophical. It is a blending of urban, tribal and mixed-cultural references – rich earthy tones that can stand alone or be accents against saturated browns and inky blacks.

Sky: we are exploring fantasy. There is a blend of contradictions – ornate/minimal, modern/vintage, classic/neo-classic. The palette is romantic and dreamy – warm pinks and violets anchored by rich browns. And stepping into the  virtual world…a cartoonish, fantastic version of reality. The colors are clean shades of green, yellow and blue stabilized by black and white.

Much of we are seeing in these “new” palettes isn’t new at all. We’ve seen these colors before. What is new is the interpretation and the way we use them  – the saturated greens and blues are being balanced with black and white. The soft romantic tones are grounded with rich browns. Each of us will interpret these trends in our own way. The particular shade of color with the chosen accents and furnishings.

As always, stay true to who you are and your own aesthetic. Trends are exactly that…trends. They are forever changing and morphing. Don’t get too caught up in having to have the latest.

Objectified. A film to inspire your inner designer.

build.print_smlScreening this week, to a sold-out crowd, at the Seattle International Film Festival was Objectified – a documentary by Gary Huswit about design, specifically industrial design. Industrial design is the design of products that can mass produced. It is everywhere. It shapes each of our lives. It is the coffeemaker we use, the chairs we sit in, the cars we drive, the electronics that we depend on. Literally everything we touch and use on a daily basis, has been designed by someone. Do you ever think about that? Things as simple as a knife and fork had to be designed. Without design they would not exist.

This film features many of the super-stars of the industrial design world…Deiter Rams, Director of Design for Braun, arguably the grandfather of modern design in the appliances we use every day; Johnny Ive, designer for Apple, enough said; creatives from Ideo and Smart Design, the folks that bring you the OXO products; to name a few. We are given a sneak peak into the processes that result in these seemingly mundane items.

At its core, design is problem-solving, frequently stemming from some frustration we experience in an object not working well or a need not yet filled. Product designers throw out all of the rule books and start new. What should the product do? What should it feel like? How should it perform? Once those questions have been answered, then…what should it look like? Function drives form, but form is equally important.

Today’s designers are also addressing the issues os sustainability in a very real way. We can’t continue to create products that become obselete in a matter of months without considering how those products will be manufactured and disposed of. Will your next cell phone be made from biodegradable materials? Will we each have manufacturing capabilities on our desktops?

Objectified does not pretend to be a comprehensive film about design or the history of design. It does do a really solid job of illustrating how design impacts and shapes ALL of our lives and poses many questions about the role of design in our future. It is inspiring and thought provoking. If you are even remotely interested in design and innovation Objectified is 90 minutes well spent.

Objectified is currently doing the film festival curcuit and will be available on DVD sometime this month. Another good film, directed by Gary Hustwit is Helvetica, about fonts and graphic design currently available on DVD.

Metropolitan Home’s Design 100

I always look forward to the Metropolitan Home Design 100 — an annual showcase of  100 of the design world’s best. It represents everything for homes, architects, furnishings and materials to people and ideas. The editors of MH collaborate, discuss, debate, and downright argue for what they believe are the best. The final 100 are those that they agree on. Each page of this publication can be lingered over and savored. I find myself leafing through it multiple times. Each time finding something or someone new to be enamored with.

I thought I would share a few of my favorites with you…

3-09-09masterFirst (#100 on the MH list), without a doubt, is the new LED lightbulb from Philips.It fits a regular socket, consumes 7 watts and burns for about 45,000 hours, sells for about $40 to the trade. We’ve been waiting for this product for a long time. Compact flourescents, in my opinion, just don’t cut it — the color is still dismal, they contain mercury and they’re not dimmable. This LED bulb will finally bring good quality, energy saving light into the household. And it’s DIMMABLE. Now on sale in Europe, it will be avialable in the U.S. mid-July.

Second (#96 on the MH list), designer Ana Borrallo’s transformation of a Chicago office suite into a spectacular apartment. She took advantage of the unique traits of the space and created a home completely reflective of it’s owners. It’s open, flexible and gorgeous. If you ever want to know what my dream home looks like, this comes very close.

index.1Third (#4 on the MH list) – The Oslo Opera House in Norway. Dressed in white marble and blue-tinted glass it emerges like a glacier emerging from the landscape. Visitors are able and encouraged to walk up the sloping roofs to views the city and fjords below. I am completed enamored with the architure of the last decade or so that invites visitors to interact with the structures themselves. The Academy of Science in San Francisco, being another recent example.

PC_Antonis-Achilleos32Also worth mentioning are MH#11, tableware designed by Masanobu Ido. As one who loves to set a table, I love these plates. They offer near-infinite flexibility allowing you to create the perfect tablescape. And  MH#28, Idea Paint, the next step from the chalkboard paint we’ve all come to love. Idea Paint turns your walls into white boards. Just like the ones you use in your meetings…only bigger. How great is that!  

Take a look at this collection of incredible design. Let me know what your favorites are.

Oslo Opera House – Friends of the Oslo Opera House
Tableware – Antonis Achilles, Metropolitan Home

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