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Pantone plays on past

Pantone, widely recognized as a color forecasting leader, is still pulling together its colors for spring 2003, though Leatrice Eiseman, director of Pantone's Color Institute, sees several palettes emerging.

A reflection on heritage and tradition, the Connections palette of deeper tones is not necessarily Americana, but gives people a sense of security, Eiseman said. "People have a greater appreciation of the past." Hunter green, navy and deep burgundy red are some of the darker tones, paired with lighter ones, "so it doesn't look too ponderous," she said. This was an up and coming trend before Sept. 11, though that day helped speed it up.

The Retrospection theme is also attached to the past, she said, but a more recent past, with colors of the 1950s in particular. But it's not just about retro or kitsch or cutesy colors, she stressed. These colors are grayed and dusted down mid-tones.

The Discretion trend is inspired by natural earth tones, in organic colors. Finishes in this group are not slick, she added, but are crackled or have a patina.

Elan is a country theme that contains brightened pastels. A more French Country chic, the colors fall between vivid brights and mid-tones.

Very soft, tinted whites are the focus of the Enlightenment trend, she said. "It's a cleansing of the palette; they are not sugar-candy-coated pastels."

Renewal is a group of sophisticated greens in cool tones. Whereas before blue may have been the dominant color in such colors as blue green, now "it's shifting into green as the lead in the palette."

Diversity is another trend that combines a variety of colors that make up the American culture. It's among the brightest group, she said, though not to the point of neon. Hues are instead subdued brights that are a bit more exotic in a warmer palette, including burnt orange, persimmon, golds and reds.

Moderno is Pantone's last trend, focusing on slicker, futuristic colors, which include deep plums, deep berry tones, mixed with taupes. This is where metallics fit in, she said, and finishes include pewter, silver and chromes.

Eiseman did note one color that is not as popular as it once was. "Orange has really declined," she added. "It's not as prevalent. If it is out there, it's more sophisticated, like tangerine or saffron. It's not as bright."

Textures are also not as opulent as they have been, she said. The beading, sequins and fussy frills from past seasons have declined, she said, and a simple, less ostentatious look remains.

Patterns also have changes ahead. "I have never seen so many stripes, from textiles to glassware," she said. Though stripes were seen before Sept. 11, she said that since then the flag influence has intensified stripes.

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