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Color Trends -- Moving Toward the Millennium!
Lisa Julson, Get Creative!

(As published in the Spring 1999 issue of Craftlink -- Your Link to the Best Business Ideas)

As we move into 1999, the year 2000 is a hot topic of conversation -- from the Y2K "computer bug" to a renewed interest in spirituality that seems to stem from the implications of living through this most important transitional time in our lives. Although some might argue that Jan 1, 2000 will be just another day, our subjective interpretations of this event can have far more impact on us than the actual physical event itself.

So it is with the world around us. Our subjective interpretations of outward events mold the way we think, feel and act. These individual forces become societal trends when enough individuals all begin to think, feel and act the same way. As a business person, whatever your craft, you need to be aware of these forces or trends. How do they impact you? The bottom line is that trends reflect and affect people's unconscious and conscious priorities -- what is important to them -- and ultimately, how they spend their money.

One of the most obvious outward manifestations of inward trends is the use of color in our society. A quick review of the last decade is a case in point: hunter green dominated the marketplace, manifested on everything from sport utility vehicles, carpeting and home décor to Rubbermaid recycle bins! What are your associations with the color green? Perhaps your first thought is of the environment, either the beauty of the great outdoors or the dissipating resources on our planet. Or maybe you thought of gardening, a pastime that is evocative of peace and tranquility, a movement back to nature. Possibly you thought that green is the color of money, symbolic of success. Whatever your response, you just demonstrated your awareness and participation in some of the trends that have shaped our society in the past decade.

Looking at color trends over time makes us more aware of how they evolve rather than taking us by surprise. The "black and bright" high contrast fashion color palette of the '80s decade slowly evolved into a lower contrast, tone-on-tone palette in the '90s. However, experts predict that with the increased pace of high technology, color trends that usually spanned approximately a decade in the past will be condensed into five year spans or less in the future. This faster pace translates into a greater need as a businessperson to act on trends sooner in order to gain the maximum "marketing value" from them.

Color Forecast

So what color-palette can we expect to see in the next five years in our living rooms, driveways and closets?? According to the experts at the Color Marketing Group (CMG) there is a continued tendency towards complex, and ambiguous "tonal" colors. However, instead of a "muddy" palette, the tones are cleaner, with technology taking a ruling hand again in creating effects like opalescence and iridescence that give depth and luminosity to the color. There is more of a connection between runway fashions and interiors than in the past, perhaps because of the accelerated trend time. Sheers, shimmering and veiled colors are extremely popular, and white replaces black as a neutral of significance. "New" whites range from cloud and fog, to eco-white and pearl.

An example: an acquaintance was discussing a new car purchase just the other evening -- when he was asked the color of the car his response was "pearl white," a color that apparently takes on different character in different lighting. The personal significance of this slight difference in his color choice was apparent in his careful description.

From the palest morning sky to the rich blue/green lagoon, blue dominates the new color palette. Think ocean, atmospheric and horizon colors. The evening sky offers a deeper palette with its cobalt blue and the purple of a distant mountain range. Although blue has long been a favorite of both sexes, purple changes roles from a distinctly feminine color into a gender-free capacity.

Interestingly enough, this clear, light, and luminous color palette seems to converge with the current trend towards spirituality as all the colors lend themselves to a sophisticated celestial or heavenly feeling. An outward manifestation of an inward trend perhaps?

What does this mean for your business? Will these color trends affect your product line? Well, unless you sell black and white photographs, the answer is YES!

Trend-watching at Trade Shows:

Building awareness of trends should be a priority if you plan on expanding or growing your business. I know you've heard it here in CraftLink before: trade shows are wonderful way to increase your awareness, not only of new products, and trends but with valuable business education as well.

I put on my "professional crafter" hat while attending Quilt Market in Houston, TX this last fall and looked at the show from the perspective of a PC. Outside of the obvious source of incredible inspiration from the fabulous quilt displays and vendor product booths, the educational seminar offerings were outstanding. On Tuesday, the day of show set-up the morning began with the choice of a lecture-style class on promotional ideas or how going online can help your business. Then it was right into Schoolhouse Series, a day long event of 1/2 hour and 15 minute business, product and technique demos sponsored by various vendors from the show. Most of the information from the previous article on Color Trends was gleaned from one of the Schoolhouse Series seminars that I attended by King's Road Textiles. Educational offerings continued throughout the show with lots of hands-on technique-type classes designed to give retailers a boost when designing in-store promotions and classes.

Staying over for Quilt Festival (the consumer version of Quilt Market), I also attended classes on publishing that were extremely informative, and saw an inspiring slide show by internationally-known knitting and needlework artist Kaffe Fassett. It was altogether a worthwhile and motivating experience!

If Houston, Texas is a little out of your way you are in luck this spring! Each year Quilt Market relocates their spring show somewhere else in the country. This year they are running two Spring Markets, one in the East on Rhode Island and one in Portland. See you there!

Upcoming Shows

Dates shown are when exhibits are open. In most cases, classes begin 1-3 days earlier.

Information: shows@quilts.com
Web: www.quilts.com
Phone: 713-781-6864
Fax: 713-781-8182
Write: Quilts, Inc.
7660 Woodway, Suite 550
Houston, TX 77063

To receive information on the shows via fax, call Quiltfax 512-474-1166 from your fax phone.

Credit for most of the information on color trends goes to B. Black & Sons, Kings Road Textiles in Los Angeles, CA.

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