An experienced forecaster breaks down some of the complexity behind today’s interesting hues.
|Color consultant and forecaster Leatrice Eiseman  is President of Eiseman & Assoc. and Director of the Pantone Color Institute.|
Residential Lighting: What design theme is affecting color right now?
Lee Eiseman: It’s the idea of eclecticism — more openness and not having everything be matchy-matchy in the exact same period. That’s not new, but I think it’s getting stronger. And how does it affect color? Well, it spills over. Style and design always spill over into color.
Residential Lighting: What color directions do you see for 2009?
Eiseman: There’s an interesting play of color that comes out in unusual color combinations. One palette we did for ’09 is Wine Country. Wine County conjures up berry colors, clarets, the greens of fields and the oak barrels used to store wine. One color is Green Oasis, a deep yellow-green. Heaven forbid that we should describe it as Avocado,
but it comes close.
Some may say, “Oh no, I OD’d on Avocado in the ‘70s and vowed never to use it again.” Well, today the difference is the way the colors are being combined. It’s Avocado mixed with claret reds and lavender — Windsor Wine, Lavender Aura and the greeny-brown Pine Bark — colors you don’t normally think of in combination, yet they look beautiful together.
The direction for color is more individualized. Let’s face it, few people today go through an entire house, throw everything out and start all over. Particularly in lighting, you may change out your lamps, yet you’re going to keep some of the looks in the room...but you may [also] opt to change the colors. People are even open to the idea of combining metallic surfaces, an idea that comes from the world of fashion.
Residential Lighting: What are some other combinations you’re forecasting?
Eiseman: There’s a palette called Wanderings. It’s all about multicultural mixes. People love to pick up artifacts from wherever they travel and put them together, and out of that grows an interesting palette. The color combinations are Olive Oil, from the yellow family; Moon Mist, a grayish blue; and Lark, a taupey, tannish shade. Red is used frequently as an accent in a lot of multicultural mixes, so you’ll find a vibrant scarlet red used against these colors.
Residential Lighting: How do you handle neutrals?
Eiseman: Even if you choose to do a neutral palette, and use colors as accents, today’s neutrals are not completely colorless. They have undertone. They’re complex neutrals. You look at them and say, “I’m pretty sure it’s gray, but when I look at it from a distance I see a blue. Is it blue, or is it gray?” This is what makes today’s neutrals interesting as opposed to beige.
Residential Lighting: Where are these new palettes showing up in home furnishings?
Eiseman: It’s more on the high-ticket items — carpeting, upholstered sectional furniture and window coverings. People are cautious with their money, and they’ve learned that one of the easiest things to change is wall color. If you do beige in the sofa or gray in the sofa, you do a claret-colored wall behind it. If you get tired of it, then you buy another can of paint.