What you didn’t know about colour

“The all-encompassing RAL, Pantone and NCS colour systems offer millions of colours categorised, structured and sorted for us,” she continues. “As a tool, this can be helpful for designers and architects but how can we ever intimately relate to colour and its subjective effect in this scenario?”

Indeed, the colour-forecasting industry originally sprang from practical needs, according to Justine Fox, co-founder with Carolina Calzada Oliveira of Calzada Fox, a London-based consultancy. “We develop colours for our clients beyond forecasting and aesthetics – they’re designed with functionality in mind, whether it’s brand awareness, sustainability or community-building.”

“One of the first colour-forecasters was Carlin, founded in Paris in 1947,” says Fox. “After World War Two, Americans were cut off from France and couldn’t get information about trends from Paris showrooms. So some retailers got together and started creating colour forecasts for the US and other countries. There’s no doubt colour systems have a practical value. The theory is that companies as far-flung as Shanghai and London can be sure to choose the same specific shade. But when the likes of Pantone and trend-forecasting firm WSGN, which has its own colour system Coloro, choose their colours of the year, they don’t create a new colour. They can pluck it from their existing archive of colours. They also hold a lot of information about people’s consumer tastes, and base their colour choices on that. Essentially, the Colour of the Year idea is a PR exercise.”

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