While many people dream of being in the winner’s circle at the Kentucky Derby, I want to be in the inner circle of the group that calls the color shots.
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Think of the power! Two years ago the Color Marketing Group, which forecasts color trends, predicted that Boyz-N-Berry – a jam-like violet – would be THE color coming in to 2014.
Sure enough, last month two influential color icons — Pantone Color Institute and Sherwin-Williams, the paint company — named shades of purple, Radiant Orchid and Exclusive Plum to be exact, as their colors of the year.
When I heard that, I got Mark Woodman, president of Color Marketing Group, on the phone. “How do you do that?”
“We love it when we’re right,” said Woodman, who insists his group offers direction not dictation. For more than 50 years, CMG has been forecasting what colors will be in so manufacturers of everything from fabrics to futons, carpet to cars and dresses to dishes can gear up.
“I’m serious,” I say. “It’s beyond eerie.”
“It’s a secret room with witches’ potions,” said Woodman, kidding me about the inner sanctum where a group of creative types, who all have trend antennas built into their frontal lobes, divine what color I will be wearing, driving and painting my walls and toenails two years out.
Then he does his best to make me feel what it’s like to be in that white room calling color.
“It’s really odd,” he says. “You sit with a group of people having a chat. We’re all looking at what’s going on around the world that could influence color: rock groups, politics, films, traveling art collections, economic conditions, technology, sports events. Then somebody says health care is a big deal, and that prompts someone to say people need to eat better so health care won’t be so expensive and that leads to dark berries and their health properties, which prompts someone to mention that berries grow wild in the forest, then we think of forests and forest colors, and the fairy tales that happen in forests, and the fairies that live there, and what color they are, and….”
“Whoa-kay,” I say tripping through all this. “Why legalize marijuana when you can do that?”
“It’s like catnip for creative minds,” he said.
“But why purple, why now?”
“When we pulled Boyz-N-Berry out of the line up in 2011,” he said, “many said it was violet’s time. We thought by the end of 2013, beginning of 2014, we would be moving past the economic crisis, and it would be time to have this marvelous color that many consumers had stayed away from.”
“I see,” I said, though I didn’t.
“Historically, purple has been linked to wealth, royalty and high religious orders. Lately, it has also surfaced as a color of health, with the uptick in dark berries.”
“So it’s about being fruitful and nobly healthy,” I say, still vying for a seat at the table next time the free association frenzy takes place.
He doesn’t say, “Ugh,” but I hear him think it. “We anticipated it would hit now and we’re seeing affirmation.”
Last year, the color group called out Reblued as the color that will push into homes later next year. “It’s about to hit in fashion,” said Woodman. This year the group fingered two colors to dominate in 2015: Smokey Cashmere, a warm grey with a brown influence; and Tribal Red, a slightly weathered red with a touch of orange that says heritage.
“So what’s a consumer to do with this information?” I ask.
“It’s important to know what people are doing and where color is going for a lot of reasons,” said Woodman. “For instance, you don’t want to be the one guy in the room with a purple shirt.”
Here’s what else color experts say you can do with the new purple.
Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press). Contact her through www.marnijameson.com.