Pandemic Influences World Color Forecasts for 2022

January 11, 2021

Person standing in front of neon blue and purple hexagon lights

Sharing a passion for color and how it influences our lives.

As a marketing company that specializes in color-trended consumer products, we always find the annual Color Marketing Group International Summit inspiring. We get to hear about the color forecasts from around the world and why they believe these color forecasts reflect the emotional climate in the marketplace. Because of the unique circumstances of 2020, we were unable to meet in person, so the conference was different but remarkable in all its uniqueness. More international members were able to attend, which is normally a challenge. Once again, the pandemic teaches us new ways of working in spite of the challenges it presents.

Let’s take one step back, though. What is CMG? Why should you care?

What is CMG?

Color Marketing Group, or CMG, is a not-for-profit, international association of color design professionals that has been providing color forecast information for over 50 years. It’s a forum for the exchange of all things color marketing as well as noncompetitive information that applies across many industries. The organization’s global membership includes a broad spectrum of designers, marketers, color scientists, consultants, educators, and artists and a volunteer board that organizes global ChromaZone Color Forecasting Workshops around the world, and they all come together for the annual international summit each fall. 

“The purest most thoughtful minds are those that love color the most” —John Ruskin

If you are currently involved in color forecasting and/or the creation of colors for a manufactured product or service, then you can apply to be a member of CMG. You may also apply if you’re involved in marketing or the technical or design aspects of product colors.

THE IMPORTANCE OF COLOR FORECASTING

In CMG’s words, “You live in color and so do we. Its influences are everywhere, the environment, social issues, changing political climates—they all impact color in one industry, which has a reverberating effect on another. We believe the only way to stay competitive within such constant change is by harnessing each other’s endless flow of knowledge and understanding.”

Leatrice Eiseman kicked off this year’s conference with a quote by John Ruskin: “The purest, most thoughtful minds are those that love color the most.” Lea, a color specialist, has been called “the international color guru.” In fact, her color expertise is recognized worldwide, especially as she’s a prime consultant to Pantone and director of the Eiseman Center for Color Information & Training. Everyone always enjoys her presentations as she has her eye on color every day.

After Lea’s inspiring introduction, each of the four main areas of the world that participate in color forecasting (Latin America, Europe, North America, and the Asian Pacific) presented their concise palette of 16 color directions from their individual ChromaZone Workshops. These color stories come complete with descriptive commentary and creative video to illustrate the reasons and the social consciousness behind their selections, a segment that is always interesting, informative, and illuminating.

NEW COLOR STORIES FOR A CHANGING WORLD

As an example of these color stories, the Asian Pacific contingent presented one called “Safe Harbor,” and here is part of their thought process behind it: 

“The quality of the global environment needs improvement: clean, fresh air, sunlight, and the feeling of space and safety. The notion of sustainability and responsibility will become key drivers. Countries will become more self-reliant on basic products with an emphasis on home-based manufacturing. 

This color story emphasizes how the value of our personal environment will change. Interior design and the use of natural colors will transform our home into a safe, warm harbor. We want to stay away from the hustle and bustle to find our own source of natural environment for moments of inspiration. By bringing nature home, or adding elements from faraway sites, we will replicate travel experiences without the need to travel. Tourism will need to be reinvented. With less trust in mass gatherings, the new luxury will be space and privacy. 

More people will grow their own produce in the backyard or on a porch, balcony, or even the windowsill. This will promote clean, fresh air to breathe inside private spaces, creating comfort and a healthier environment. Our living spaces will yearn to have an outdoor escape. 

Family life and connections will be crucial for the health and happiness of the whole family. Entertaining at home will increase demand for high-quality products such as tableware, glassware, and linens, while kitchens will be truly the heart of the home. 

As online communications remain strong, we will place additional value on handmade objects that provide textures of sensual experiences. Our purchasing decisions will shift to consider the core value of an object’s functionality and lasting qualities. There will be less empathy with a throwaway society.”

This is just one sample of many color stories from each region. At the international summit it is all presented and then tied together for a World Color Forecast featuring 12 key colors.

We saw many themes carrying forward from last year into the global presentations, such as sustainability, but also the pandemic has brought great uncertainty and, with that, a shift to more optimistic yellow tones than ever before, as we look toward happier times and a more hopeful future. With names like Hope, Comfort and Sunny Side Up, we see the need for yellow palettes in our lives. Most yellows are saturated, warmer or muted tones of pale yellow still with some contamination of orange.

We’re also seeing saturated colors balanced with pale ones as we move from darkness to light. We look at what is essential while facing the duality of fear and hope, struggle versus comfort.

“You live in color and so do we. Its influences are everywhere, the environment, social issues, changing political climates—they all impact color in one industry, which has a reverberating effect on another.”

THE 2022 COLOR FORECAST BY COLOR FAMILY

Oranges
There is a downward trend in oranges in general, but they are more saturated, some of them very earthy, symbolizing personal revival, reflection, and grounding in the wake of the pandemic.

Neutrals
Thirty percent of the colors are in the neutral range this year, balancing the bigger, heavier color tones and serving as a transition. Most of the neutrals are also taking on a warming trend, with very few (and slightly muted) blacks. 

Greens
Green colors are expanding in general with a wide variety of metaphors and color tones, from supersaturated yellow-green of Bio-Sci to muted, balancing greens such as Wetstone, a pale gray-green. Some of these trending greens express hope and freshness, while muted tones counterbalance the brighter colors to represent earthiness and sustainability.

Blues
Colors of blue in a wide range of saturation levels will continue to be important, with some warm overtones or green tint, as in True Blue, the embodiment of stability for the future, and Serenity, a pale green that’s as soothing as its name. Red-based pale blues signify the dawning of a new day and blue-greens such as “Counterbalance” incorporate the idea of nature, both reconnecting with it (after too much time absorbed in tech) and protecting it.

Reds
Red colors are trending softer and slightly faded, again on the warm side. The browns consist of a happier, deeper red-brown such as “Happy Chocolate.” There are a few quirky, naive pinky reds as well, such as “Metamorphrose,” a new take on empowerment and how science will change our world. And heck, after the pandemic is over we will need to emerge and party!

Purples
The latest forecast brings forth a wide variety of purples, some more vibrant and some less saturated and smoky—introspective, much as we’ve become as we reevaluate our lives, our priorities, and the health of the world as a whole. Purple has been nonexistent in the European forecast for a couple of years, and it is back with a dark purple balanced to a very light lavender, another representation of the duality we are experiencing right now.

These are just some of the highlights of what’s happening in worldwide color and a teaser to let you know that if you work in color in any way, Color Marketing Group is the perfect stopover each year—a place where you can learn which colors are up and coming and how to forecast these trends in your products or marketing efforts.

Photos: Color Marketing Group and  Instagram

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