How does a particular shade rise above the rest to become a seasonal standout in the world of interiors? Christobel Hastings investigates.

Just look to the avocado green kitchens of the ‘70s or the grey-washed living rooms of the past decade to see that colour trends can have a serious impact on home decor – and they can be as fleeting as the seasons.

But how does a certain shade go from being one person’s preference to a global trend? And how do trendsetters land upon the perfect colour when predicting the next big thing? We asked the experts.

Looking ahead

An annual milestone that plays a pivotal role in home decor is the unveiling of Dulux’s Colour of the Year. For interior designers, creative types and colour-lovers of all persuasions, the hotly anticipated forecast sets the tone for the year ahead.

A space to draw inspiration. Dulux colours: walls 90YY 35/169, skirting-board and wall-stripe: Pictured Rocks: 10YR 28/072

Behind the scenes, colour experts from AkzoNobel – Dulux’s parent company – spend months conducting research, analysing trends and tapping into finely-tuned consumer experience to find a colour that resonates around the world.

“The aim of our research is to know what colour preference our consumers will have in a few years’ time, without them yet knowing it themselves,” explains Heleen van Gent, Creative Director at the AkzoNobel Global Aesthetics Centre, the colour design and trend analysis branch of AkzoNobel which conducts colour research.

Throughout the year, Van Gent and her team of colour experts immerse themselves in colour and design trends, consulting an international network of experts about how colour preferences are changing and being influenced by external trends.

Then, annually, the team convene with leading architects, designers and trend watchers to brainstorm the trends they think will influence the interior décor paint colour choice of consumers. After three days of analysis, the group decides on an overarching theme.

“I take that information to AkzoNobel and invite a group of colour specialists from our different markets, and we translate those trends into paint colour palettes and decide on the colour of the year.”

Changing times

A place where you share memories and take comfort in togetherness. Woodwork: Pictured Rocks: 10YR 28/072, walls: 30BB 21/056

This year marks 15 years of colour trend work; and Van Gent says there’s a “huge difference” between the sea-swept tones of 2004 and the colours currently being communicated.

“Social and design trends influence our colour palettes,” she says. “In 2015, we had Copper Blush, this very warm, orangey colour which translated the positive outlook on life. Last year with Denim Drift, we saw that consumers had more of a need for balance and calm. By looking at how palettes have evolved over the years, you can see how consumer needs for certain colours ebb and flow with how they feel about the world around them”.

External influencers of interior trends are widely acknowledged. “As implausible as it seems, whatever happens on the world socio-economic and political stage influences the scatter cushion you will buy for your sofa,” says South African interior designer turned blogger, Germarie Bruwer founder of award-winning décor blog Homeology.

A Welcome Home

“For 2018 we are talking about big data, information saturation, a 24/7 economy, the fact that we live in unpredictable times,” says Van Gent. In response to the mood of uncertainty, people are craving sanctuary through their interiors.

Fitting, then, that the name of the 2018 Dulux Colour of the Year is Pictured Rocks (also known as Nordic Sails), a contemporary colour Van Gent describes as a “beautiful, warm, grown-up pink.” Inspired by the warm tones of leather and wood, Pictured Rocks is a shade that soothes the mind and calms the senses.

In the spirit of tradition, AkzoNobel Global Aesthetic Center have created four supporting palettes based around the overarching theme of “A Welcome Home” for everyone, to help consumers see how easily paint can transform a living room to fit this day and age. The interior suites showcase the versatility of Pictured Rocks, whether you’re a family-oriented homebody looking to entertain, or a digital native who uses their home as a pitstop to charge their devices.

The future of colour

Home is where you reconnect with yourself. Upper wall: Pictured Rocks: 10YR 28/072, skirting board: 13YR 07/157, lower wall: 20YY 55/151

While a tin of Dulux hardly sounds radical, its effect, as Van Gent explains, can be wholly transformative. “Colour is the more democratic and cost-effective interior decorating product, and the effect of colour per square metre is incomparable to something as small as a cushion or a vase.”

Bruwer echoes this saying: “Paint must be the easiest and most cost-effective way to quickly transform a room. Whether you choose to create a focal, or change the color of the whole room for overall effect, paint has an endless number of colours and finishing options that can achieve it.”

As for the evolution of paint colour, Van Gent predicts a bright future. Consumers, she says, are becoming “braver and more secure in their colour choices,” thanks to the well of inspiration on platforms like Pinterest and Instagram, as well as trendsetters such as Dulux.

In a world of endless complication and stress, colour scheming could well be the way to empower people to create spaces in which they feel comfortable, and most importantly, at home.

Find out more about Dulux’s 2018 Colour of the Year and start planning your next home makeover.