Colour in a new light

During Clerkenwell Design Week, Inex paid a visit to Marianne Shillingford, Creative Director at Dulux UK. During its visit, Inex learnt the process of the company’s annual Colour Futures scheme.

Colour is at the heart of Dulux’s ethos, and it is of vital importance that the team behind the colour specialist forecasts its Colour Futures trends precisely. Chaired by Marianne, Dulux’s Colour Futures – specifically fashioned for the interiors industry – acts as an interior ‘bible’ for the upcoming 18 months for all across the board.

Established 14 years ago, Colour Futures has only recently started to be shared with the general public and design professionals, and it has verified itself within the industry as an invaluable source for interior designers and design professionals.


Inspiration and influences
Dulux’s inspiration for its colour forecasting stems from multiple domains. Marianne and her team’s search reaches to social trends; how we are living and what we are doing as a human race, economic movement; what people are spending their hard-earned money on, and design trends; from new technologies to what’s driving design from all creative divisions.

The reporting and research behind Marianne and the team’s final decision is a result of global design knowledge across all committees of the Colour Futures team. Collectively, the team examines what new designers, fashion designers, architects and influential individuals are exhibiting within their designs. From here, the team foretells how this will affect the interiors industry.


Commenting on Dulux’s decision-making on nominating its Colour of the Year, Marianne disclosed: “We listen to what other people are thinking about and dilute it down. We have our own colour teams – comprising trend watchers, architects, university professors and design directors – in 26 countries and four continents working with the wider industry.

“Each year, we assemble our teams together and cross-examine what is happening in their industries and discuss how these occurrences from disparate fields will influence ours. “This is where our overarching theme unfolds, with four stories, 45 trend colours and one Colour of the Year.”


Comprehensive analysis
This year’s all-embracing theme, ‘Life in a New Light’, is the result of the Colour Futures team’s extensive research on the past year’s political, economic and social tendencies. “We are living in uncertain times,” enthused Marianne. “Living in a digital age, we are trying to make sense of being a human in a technologically-advanced era. It is hard to envisage what the world is going to be like in five to 10 years’ time and it is difficult for us, as a human race, to conceive how relevant people will be in that. “We need to start looking at life in a whole new light; to be able to make sense of who we are in a digitally-driven environment; we need to find things to do that make our lives worth living.”

The trends
From this research, Marianne and her team dilute their conclusion down to four concentric circles. “The centre of this circle represents our soul,” interprets Marianne. “This trend is known as New Romanticism, which is all about us and how are dealing with this new uncertainty of life.


“The second circle, Shared Individualism, is about our family and the third, Working Home, is about our work-life balance, while the fourth, Considered Luxury, involves what we are spending our time and money on.”

2017’s Colour of the Year
This year’s Colour of the Year, ‘Denim Drift’, is a beautiful soft-grade indigo. “In uncertain times, human beings yearn for simplification, connection, recognition and a slower pace of life,” explained Marianne. “We seek out simple, restful colour that we want to understand and recognise; colours that have a history and a meaning, that work without effort. We want to find things we can easily understand and effortlessly recognise; we want to immerse ourselves in things we find familiar, and blue is the world’s favourite colour. It is an uncomplicated colour and everyone loves it. We live on a blue planet; we return to blue when we feel hemmed in; we visit lakes on holiday and sunbathe looking at the sky. But, beyond that, there is a great universal love of the colour blue.


“When carrying out our forecasting, we saw blue everywhere; it was in Milan and designers and architects were using it everywhere. It wasn’t just blue; it was indigo – the oldest natural plant dye being reinvigorated through fashion, art and architecture. If architects were using it, we knew it was going to be big – if they are using anything but marble, concrete, glass or steel in their designs, they are investing in colour, and a building is built to last.”

Marianne concluded: “Last year’s Colour of the Year was quite polarising. So, this year, we’ve created a palette of blues – the majority of which have a tint of indigo to them.

“The beauty of this year’s Denim Drift is that the aesthetics change from day to night; the light plays against it making it a transitional blue.”



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