Posted on 12/6/2012 2:53 PM by Debbie Designer

Another year, another BDNY show.  “What have we got to show for it this time?” you may ask, aloud, to no one in particular, as you stroke an old collection of lanyard ribbons and blank-stare three feet ahead.  Aside from several branded canvas bags filled with matches and compasses (hats off to you, King & Grove), not much.  

Still, for those true believers out there, there’s always a trend story or two to dig out of the rubble.  Grab your shovel and the last box of wine from the fridge, folks—we’re going in.  



source: materials inc

This year I decided to skip out on a thorough floor-crawl and bypass the nicey nice small talk entirely, (no small feat, I might add.) Instead, I went to a more familiar environment: the Javits Center basement. The scene was a deserted series of ventilation ducts, temporarily installed to clear out Hurricane Sandy’s mess.

Anyway, so there I was, walking through those hollowed halls, wondering if the ventilation system would ever be enough to dry my own tears, when I found the trend forecast panel Color Your World: What’s New in Shades and Hues. The three-person panel consisted of Alexandra Champalimaud, president and principal designer of Champalimaud Design; Doty Horn, founding director of Colorvoyant; and Donna Schroeder, brand marketing color and design manager at Pratt & Lambert Paints.

Doty and Donna walked us through trends driven by ideas like multiculturalism, high contrast, and texture. Looking at these palettes—especially when Donna’s slides showed colors evolving from one year to the next—revealed precisely what color the wool will be as it is pulled over our eyes through 2014.

The projections of one designer to the next are so highly subjective, subtle, and variable as to render each other meaningless. Had this been a panel of ten people, there would have simply been seven additional, irreconcilable predictions, not three stronger ones.

And yet the conversation carried on, waxing poetic about minutely shifting shades of blue, the rise and fall of warmth in red tones, and the differences between “pink gold” and “rose brass.”  

“It’s really about the stories these colors tell,” Doty explained, confirming my suspicions that you can basically wing it up there. All you need is an air of authority, a handful of synonyms for ”taupe,” and a knack for painting metaphors about the economy and globalization.

Just when this reality—and a fantastical series of new career possibilities—was sinking in, screeching record Alexandra Champalimaud brought the conversation to a halt, when she told the other panelists she would “run away from” any color deemed to be a trend.

Awkward, entertaining, and downright serendipitous, her brazen comment led the conversation to an interesting point on collaboration between manufacturers and designers, and the process by which they work together to determine the right colors for a project. For one glimmering moment, we were about to enter into a discussion about choosing different colors for different lighting profiles, in order to achieve the same palette across multiple property locations.

But alas, Alexandra also explicitly acknowledged the panel’s inherent ironic failure, which the previous presenters failed to address: the projector was wildly skewing the colors of the presentations, rendering the entire lesson utterly useless.          

“This is a dungeon!” she complained, as an image of a supposedly off-white hotel suite transformed into an undeveloped Polaroid of muddled gray.

“These are actually a beautiful yellow,” she said at a later slide—a fiction she attempted to spin for the crowd while circling a set of pumpkin-orange chairs with a red laser pointer. The red dot was the only distinguishable color on screen.  

And so the audience soon realized that we had spent an hour of our lives straining both our face eyes and our mind eyes to the brink, absorbing the palette of a darker, greener dystopian future that will never exist, and ruining our ability to distinguish color with confidence for the rest of the event.

It’s actually a new trend I’m forecasting, called Glaucomatose. I predict we’ll be noticing palettes that are so dark and hard to see, we actually lose consciousness due to sheer boredom. This represents changing consumer attitudes amidst the struggles and confusion of a post-recession world, as the design industry panders to just 1% of the visible light spectrum. Textures will become more pixelated and blurry, reflecting a cultural shift and new buyer demand for design that makes it easier to mask our inability to use technology correctly.

Glaucomatose! Look for it in 2014.  You will have to squint very hard.

With that, I’ll leave you with a fun little look at color put together by the folks at PBS. It happens to feature Doty Horn, along with some colors that I assume are displayed correctly:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nX0DHd5QNS8&feature=plcp/