Colour certainly matters. Beyond its visual impact, it is driven by its own psychological theories and economic and global consumer trends.
Each year, global colour authority Pantone releases its Colour of the Year. When they named Radiant Orchid (a purple hue) as the colour for 2014, it raised a few eyebrows in the trend world.
Global trend analyst Milou Ket said the company's choice was certainly unexpected. While the previous colours of the year, including Tangerine Tango and Turquoise, aligned with her expectations and design research, she had not foreseen Radiant Orchid in the market.
Susan Tait, creative director Australian outdoor furniture specialist Tait agreed.
“I was surprised by a purple hue being selected as it is certainly traditionally not an easy colour to use, but there are many hues within Radiant Orchid and by mixing a lot of black or grey into your purple it becomes a beautiful warm winter colour,” she said.
Tait also predicts that rather than buying furniture in Radiant Orchid, the colour will be primarily showcased through fabrics and décor accessories.
In terms of a natural take on the hue, Tait has also observed a growing trend of mass plantings of grey foliage, lavender and silvias which can “create a soft purple haze in the garden and can soften hard architecture.”
However it won’t be all plum vases, lilac scatter cushions and plants. Tait offered her colour predictions and decoration suggestions for Australian residential and commercial spaces for the upcoming season.
Tait predicts the market will welcome the earthiest of warm colours for autumn.
“Think terracottas, and cream instead of white,” she said. “These will be complemented by slate blues, greys and cool teal greens.”
Tait also refers to a more sophisticated market which is encouraging more sophisticated colours in design.
“People are looking for interesting tones which mix and match,” she said. “They are tired of the minimal look, and wish to bring a palette of colours into their homes. Muted colours that blend well together with some highlight colours – like lemon or aqua – make for a warm inviting home.”
She offers a similar forecast for the commercial industry where she feels colours that connect to staff, visitors and nature will be implemented in corporate spaces.
“We’re seeing a big shift in the commercial projects to soften workplace fits outs and create more of a relaxed even ‘homey’ environment and a great way to do this is through colour,” she said.
Workplaces this year will reconsider traditional clean, white spaces and adopt colour that may be aligned with the company’s corporate style guidelines or reflect its use.
“(We will see) softer hues for quiet areas and more up-beat, brighter hues give energy to active meeting areas like eating or break out spaces,” she predicted.
Minimalism Meets Raw
The coming year will see the market opting for spaces that are visually engaging but free from distraction and decoration disorder.
“When I hear ‘minimalism’ I think cold white boxes with black or grey furniture from the nineties,” Tait said. “These days, homes can be minimal as in uncluttered with clean lines but the warmth from honest materials has been added, such as raw timber where you can see and feel the grain.”
These natural materials and surfaces will serve an environmentally conscious market and encourage people to consider touch and texture when decorating. Think "concrete with blemishes and marks, woven or knitted textiles and even rusted metal," Tait said. For example, copper is very trendy both in design and architecture, particularly in facades, roofs and metal work.
“All these materials have a tactility which introduces a handmade, human quality and allows materials to be admired for their beauty and texture, turning cold houses into welcoming homes,” Tait said.
When bold or bright colours are in the trend forecast, they are generally reserved for smaller décor items, but it seems that this year the market is getting a little more adventurous.
Tait's company, for example, applying colour to everything from furniture to planters to trays, encouraging customers to take a mix-and-match approach to indoor and outdoor decor.
“Contrasting a power coat colour with a compact laminate can create some stunning effects and transform the mood of a table," Tait said. "I also love the mixing of natural materials like timber and rope against solid colours to create a complementary palette that allows each materials to shine through and, when combined, really ‘sing.’”
This year will see conventional indoor and outdoor space boundaries blurred more than ever.
The growing tendency for people to reconnect to nature is bringing design into residential and commercial spaces with features including glass ceilings to showcase the sky, floor-to-ceiling windows to absorb sunlight and timber floors that move from a living area right through to an outdoor landing.
In terms of furniture, industrial pieces traditionally reserved for outdoors are finding their way inside, vertical indoor gardens are adorning walls with green foliage while outdoor furniture remains durable but comfortable with softer materials, textiles that create an indoor-outdoor flow.
Tait also observed this crossover in products where items aesthetically designed for a residential space are being specified for corporate and commercial projects.
She attributes this to customisation
"I think part of the appeal of our furniture is the ability for consumers to customise colours and surface materials opting to create different moods," she said.
Tait offered some decorating rules when choosing to decorate with on-trend colours, stating that transformative visual changes can be made with the smallest of items.
“Unless you can afford to buy new furniture every two years, I recommend choosing neutral colours for your investment pieces which allow you to accessories with colour,” she said. “This way it doesn’t cost a fortune when you tire of your colour palette, want to give a room a new feel or introduce a new piece of art.”