I’m back from the Colour Marketing Group convention in Seattle this past weekend, and here are the highlights:
The fundamental message from the weekend? Colour sells and the right colour sells better. Your customer will investigate the product further if they like the colour—you lose them if the colour isn’t right. If you have 2 identical products/houses side by side the only thing that differentiates them is the look and the feel and that is created using colour!
This presentation of 10 boards was made my Ken Charbonneau who worked for Benjamin Moore for many years and was responsible for putting together their Historical Collection which came out in 1976 and is now a fixture in their colour line. He is currently with Wilsonart International (which is one of the reasons why he’s included laminates on his boards).
Ken said that laminates are the ‘great pretenders’. And the biggest customers of laminates? The gaming industry. The hotel lobby and counter will be marble and then you walk around the corner and it’s laminate everywhere else. It’s a great example of first impressions being everything. It’s why if you can’t afford to install crown molding everywhere in your house, install them in the main rooms downstairs and you create the impression that the whole house has been done.
The second day was the most interesting to me as it was colour forecasting day. If I told you the final colours we came up with I’d have to kill you (only CMG members get the final colours, everyone else has to wait 4 months) but I can show you the board we put together on new member training day (which was Saturday).
Because I’m a residential designer I was in ‘Consumer Colours Current’ and here’s what happens. Everyone comes with 8 colours. One for each colour in the colour wheel including brown and gray or white. We choose a colour that we think is currently ‘established’ and one that is ‘new’. The most fascinating part of this exercise is how much similarity there was with the colour that people chose. That’s when you know you are on the right track.
You have all these people in the ‘colour industry’ choosing colours (with thousands to choose from), they go up on the board and so many of them are the same. The above board is what we narrowed it down to and then named them on the spot which is a very important step in colour forecasting because it starts creating the story which is what sells.
6 years ago when the brown and blue trend started coming in, I tried to find that combination in fabric everywhere because I was starting to specify them in residential design and it was impossible. The fabric houses simply hadn’t made those combinations yet, it was that new.
One of my current clients wanted a gray/green sofa when we were selecting colours for the furniture in her new apartment. I steered her away from a gray/green colour to more of a fresh green knowing that it would be much easier to find something fabulous in the newer green rather than the older one.
Anytime I have been hired to work on a project with colours that are dated, it’s much harder to find ‘fabulous’ fabrics that the client madly loves because the selection is so limited. Obviously we can’t all re-do our living room every 5 years so this happens a lot, however if you are starting with an empty room, it’s much easier to find art and accessories to complete your space if you work with more ‘current’ colour schemes.
This room (below) was decorated by a designer approximately 10 years ago. A year ago, I was hired to select new drapery fabric and rods, toss cushions and carpeting (the current fabric belonged in a kitchen) you can see that the toss cushions were made to repeat the ‘fresh lemon yellow’ in the current drapery (so wrong with the ‘dirty, mature red’ which was the burgandy) in the room.
In addition to that, she had never found an area rug because it was difficult to find a square one so she had lived without one all these years until I came along.
Instead of trying to find a square area rug I simply chose some textured carpeting and had it bound in a herringbone, navy fabric from Ralph Lauren which certainly helped to define the space and tie in all the furniture. I also recommended that we switch out the ‘bun’ feet on her furniture (which were too country looking) to match her more traditional coffee tables–much better don’t you think? The other issue was the existing accessories on her mantle that were too small in addition to lacking balance and scale in this larger space. An accessory shopping trip for new lighting and accessories did the trick.
The challenge with the drapery fabric was finding something that was light enough to work with her current wall colour (re-painting because it was an open space would have dictated that the entry, halls and dining room would have to be done as well and that wasn’t in the budget) in addition to the existing ‘dated’ combination of navy and burgandy. I ended up with a textured, raw silk which read two-toned in the end, gold enough to work with the furniture but also light enough to complement the wall colour.
An experienced designer knows which elements to work with and what to ignore in order to make a space work. In the beginning of my design career I was asked to find two chairs to go with an existing, cold blue gray, leather sofa from the 70’s. At the time I didn’t take the job because I had no idea which chairs I could find that would work with that sofa!
Now I know that the answer to that design dilemma would have been to advise my client that anything ‘new’ would scream TODAY and their sofa (even though it still looked new because it was sitting in their living room and rarely used) would scream YESTERDAY! Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and buy new because you can’t save something THAT dated and make it work especially if you are adding new pieces.
I also met some fascinating colour professionals I’ll be talking about so stay tuned!