A warm front settles in on the palette

Carole Sloan, November 3, 2003

A warm color palette blending hues in and around the red family is the fashion-forward color statement for home furnishings in the coming year.

Pegged as "Global Warming" by Pantone's Leatrice Eiseman, director of the company's Color Institute, "this family is an adventurous and exotic color grouping." Eiseman sees it as an important accent against neutral, natural or darkened tones.

Eiseman made her predictions for the coming year's color directions at a presentation during the recent International Home Furnishings Market here.

Individually, she cited orange as "the biggest surprise in the last few years in terms of consumer perception." Originally, she pointed out, "it was associated with 'cheap', 'fast food' and now has made its way into design to the point that it now is the tag line for Absolut vodka: 'Are you Type O?'"

Included in "Global Warming" are "an unexpected jolt of electric blue, used with spicy orange, dancing pink, magenta purple, vivid yellow and molten lava."

In outlining eight color statements, Eiseman picked "Enhancing Hues" and "Finishing Touches" as two more directional color directions.

"Enhancing Hues" focuses on skin tones — soft, gentle, but more stylish and more complex shades than simple pastels, including peach, mauve, cognac, rose brown, and burgundy, Eiseman noted. And "Finishing Touches" features lush, opulent looks, with intricate combinations including chartreuse, olive green, cappuccino, thyme and rich gold. Avocado and olive are being used effectively in fabrics, she noted.

Looking at other color trends, Eiseman pointed to "Creature Comforts" as a bit of cottage living or country in a condo, "but always cozy and effortless. The look includes warm cozy quilts and comfort food colors such as soft creamy whites, rustic reds and golden yellows."

"Streamlined" is a sleek and stylish mood, Eiseman related, "with minimal and modern-meets-design statements of the past" with lots of aerodynamic styling, metallic finishes of chrome and silver as well as polished black and slick white.

"Sweet Stuff," what Eiseman calls "eye candy," features confection shades of mimosa, smoky grape, pink, brandied melon, taffy and banana grape.

A simple, natural mood is evoked in "Natural Instincts," with weathered wood, natural fibers, "and all things organic and real" moving from rustic and rural to polished and urban.

"Beach Retreat" evokes the mood of rolling surf, warm sand and a range of colors from deep marine, lavender blue, sky blue, oyster gray and cloud whites.

Looking at specific colors, Eiseman sees yellow "as the new orange in the fashion industry — the next-door neighbor to orange, and especially associated with sunlight and the yellow diamond as the hot new gem."

Purple, she added, "is a color the fashion-forward customer understands. And mauve is back, but you don't bring it back the way it was — you reinvent it."

As for blue, "there always is a need for blue in the American market. It's all about escape. But she cautioned, "electric blues are not calming and tranquilizing — bright blues and electric blues are just as stimulating as red."

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