Forecasting Color Cycles

There are two ways to define color cycles: the intermittent shifts in color preferences and the patterns of repetition in the popularity of colors. As the color cycle shifts and a new color or color direction is introduced, there is a lag time between acceptance while people gain familiarity. As people gain familiarity and accept the color, the color or color palette is then moved into the mainstream. Over time, sometimes quickly and usually season to season, interest in the colors diminishes and is then replaced by the next new thing. Colors once popular can be recycled in a future season, thus displaying colors have somewhat predictable life-cycles.

This foreseeable cycle begins with bright saturated, primary colors followed by mixed and less intense colors; then, lingers in a neutral state until the rich, strong colors resurface. To further detail this sequence the colors swing from high chroma, to “multicoloredness,” to subdued colors, to earth tones, to achromatic colors, and back to high chroma colors as shown in the image below.

As a color forecaster or designer you are always looking for clues to the next color trend, theme or direction of color stores. This requires constant knowledge and participation in the events that shape the cultural moment and monitoring the commentary of the media. When defining a color theory, the forecaster or designer, takes into account the target market and their membership in a cultural group. Lifestyles, values, and attitudes all play a role in acceptance or rejection of color directions. There is some continuity visible regardless of trends: red, blue and green plaids appear in some form every autumn, etc. To maintain awareness of the current color trends as well as predict the future trends the forecaster must maintain a constant flow of research, therefore color research is an on-going project in the life of a designer.


2 Responses to “Forecasting Color Cycles”
  1. michelle says:

    interesting stuff. is this based on someones research or is this just an observation?

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