The world is an ever changing place and for us, it is essential to know what the major influences that shape our lives are, so that we can create products and services that people actually appreciate and need.
Dulux are part of AkzoNobel, one of the largest producers of colour in the world and so colour in all its forms is hugely important to us. We have a global Aesthetics Team whose primary function is to observe and track global socio-economic trends as well as trends in design, technology, fashion and the arts. We hold a design forum every year to which some of the leading world experts in each of these fields are invited. They, along with our own colour and design experts, discuss the major influences which will affect their industries in the coming year and beyond.
The Aesthetics Team distil these findings into 5 distinct trends which affect the way we live, interior style and of course colour. A body of work called ‘Colour Futures’ is produced every year and launched to the industry in September.
It looks at the next 18 months and includes beautiful interiors which bring the trend stories to life plus the colour palettes that go with them. It also shows palettes of key colours for the whole of the spectrum plus identifies a ‘Colour of the Year’ which is one that we see capturing the essence of the year ahead. Colour Futures also has an overarching theme which binds the trends together. For 2015 it is ‘Everyday +’ which focuses on finding the wonderful in the everyday. An example of this might be a kettle that boils water to a number of different temperatures which you can control - allowing you to have the perfect tea and coffee etc. without burning the delicate ingredients. The kettle is the ‘everyday’ the ‘wonderful’ is the fact that it doesn’t just boil water – it makes the perfect drink.
This year the 5 trends are: ‘Big Nature + Small Me’, ‘Layer + Layer’, ‘Unseen Spaces’, ‘Him + Her’ and ‘Friendly Barter’.
Big Nature + Small Me
Big Nature + Small Me is about putting things into perspective. Wrapped up in a modern world that is often rigid and constraining, we long for a simpler way of life that is natural, free and - crucially - offline. Nature represents all that is unpredictable and untamable; it can be still and gentle or wild and savage. Its increasing volatility is commanding new respect and awe; and with this we see a trend for individuals that want to pit themselves against the elements to find out what they are truly made of.
This is a new definition of freedom, where the only possessions you need are a van and a backpack… Whether it is training for an Ironman or hiking the Pacific Crest Trail this is about finding strength and clarity through physical hardship and the dwarfing scale of nature.
While we might not all want to challenge ourselves to this degree, the idea of a more authentic and mindful existence appeals to most, and is inspiring a new minimalism, stripping away all that is unnecessary and purely cosmetic. Although we are impressed by vast architectural spaces with high ceilings and endless corridors, we search for a sense of security through the human scale of smaller environments, which shield and embrace us. This trend mimics the beautiful flow of nature’s colours and materials to create spaces that are warming and comforting.
Layer + Layer
Layer + Layer is storytelling through design. We live increasingly multi-dimensional lives, with added depths revealing themselves the more we look and explore ourselves and our environment. The digital landscape adds further layers to the world around us, not simply in terms of space but also time. This is a creative trend that has a delicious sense of playfulness with the use of colour energetically applied by hand.
Unseen Spaces explores the luxury of the in-between. With space increasingly at a premium in our modern lives, we are learning to value and make use of previously neglected, unseen or unloved areas of our environment. Turning the famous William Morris quote inside out – ‘have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’ – we are now looking at the un-useful and the ugly from a new perspective. We are making a virtue out of negative space and creating beauty and use where previously there was none. Interior design is teaching us to maximize the potential of under-utilised space: be it a mezzanine, a hallway or the corner under the stairs. Similarly, decorative techniques can draw our attention to previously overlooked areas or accessories, while the use of trompe l’oeil and optical illusion can define new space by drawing our eye to it.
Him + Her
Him + Her celebrates the beauty of being different. As we seek and attain greater gender equality both in the workplace and at home, so we are learning to celebrate our uniqueness. Confident in our own skin, there is a growing trend towards celebrating the best of each sex; in the importance of difference as well as equality. After the trend for androgyny in fashion, men and women are increasingly being encouraged to play on the traditions of masculinity and femininity. Men are happily bearded and wearing lumberjack shirts; all-weather clothing and work wear boots while they re-engage with traditional crafts and skills. They no longer feel emasculated in their domestic roles; the hunter-gatherer impulse sees them challenging themselves against the extremes of nature or catching their own fish, smoking their own meat and making craft beer. In turn, women are reveling in a return to both the feminine and the feminist (and seeing no contradiction in combining the two). They no longer feel they have to mimic male traits in order to succeed in the office, because they are increasingly no longer operating in a patriarchal world. A soft, subtle, female influence often proves equally effective and strong - if not more so - in comparison with the masculine approach to business success.
Last but not least is Friendly Barter, the trend for a new social economy. One of the most significant social trends of recent years has been our rethinking and redefining of the concept of ownership. Inspired by the increasing influence the digital world has over our lives and the social media revolution, a new, collaborative economy of friendly barter has established itself.
Websites such as Peerby, Airbnb, Car2go, TaskRabbit and of course Artfinder have extended the idea of connectivity to the world of commerce. Eschewing big brands, consumers now seek out goods and services via a collaborative model based on sharing and borrowing via a community of likeminded individuals. It is a system built almost entirely on trust; and the understanding that we can help others while we help ourselves. It is betterment through a simple and cost-effective use of our existing networks, with new and unexpected combinations helping the exchange of supply and demand. The ‘greed is good’ mentality of crass consumerism is thus replaced by a sense of collective resourcefulness.
Many thanks to Marianne Shillingford and Holly Smith at Dulux. All images courtesy of Dulux