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Each year, I review the trend world with one major quest: to answer the question “Why” behind color and design trends. If you understand the big picture trend story, then the parts and pieces of design and color come together with ease, interest and texture.

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The ColorVoyant Watch

Trend Concepts Watch

6.3.2012 12.00

Street Smarts help you to see the street for what it is, and its function and beauty will inspire us to look more closely. The street continues to influence color and texture in unconscious ways. Food is essential to our existence, and organic bright colors are the perfect balance for every design diet. Feathers seem to be fragile, yet they possess a strong and protective function.

Trend Concepts Watch 1: Street Smarts

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The street is ablaze with tonal texture. What is in front of us will be important in the future, and seeing the street for what it is, its function and its beauty will inspire us to look more closely. Neutral greys will shift and become the universal backdrop on which to build other hues—imbedding tonal nuances and/or in contrast with brighter colors. Call it what you want—tarmac, concrete, pavement, macadam—it continues to influence color and texture in unconscious ways, even though it’s right in front of our eyes… and feet! It’s a step in the right direction.

Tikkurila "street grays"

Tikkurila J486Tikkurila X487Tikkurila K487Tikkurila L487Tikkurila M499

TrendWatch 1 street smarts

TrendWatch 1 street smarts2As I walked the streets of Milan last year I started noticing how the streets “talked” while I walked. I was amazed at the textured designs and shapes of manhole covers, so I started taking photos all along my path.

As I followed my “trend nose” I noticed that other designers were inspired by the same thing! And look what I found! Top center image: “GAZ” realism…is a street manhole cover. Image on right: a manhole cover carpet design by Eno Studio.

Designers are taking an alternative spin to street design. Translating the obvious street texture into unexpected forms for rejuvenated use puts the fun back into FUNctional.

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Melbourne Movement heightens the pavement stone particles into a functional, fluid and textural literally picks up the pavement for interior direction.

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Brooklyn, NY: The Street is in the House leaves “caution” to the wind with re-purposed garden containers and road construction seating.

Tikkurila "caution street colors"

Tikkurila M301Tikkurila M320Tikkurila M304Tikkurila K379
 M301 M320 M304 K379


Trend Concepts Watch 2: Food

TrendWatch Food 1Food—it’s tangible and tactile. It’s immediate gratification. Food is essential to our existence and always will be. Why do we have a heightened awareness of Food at this time in our lives?

The focus is at home…local… sustaining our existence—and the one thing we can control in our lives. Food reminds us of rooting ourselves in the ground and sharing a community of seasonal growth with those around us. It fosters a community and a “back to basics” vision.

Organic bright colors are the perfect balance for every design diet. What I call the “Succotash Palette of Peas, Corn, and Carrot” are timeless. Juxtaposed against the soil rich naturals, this combination of delicious color texture can be summed up as utterly delectable and great for sharing at the design table.

I studied an overview of color over the last 13–14 decades and the “aha” moment for me was discovering that the peas, corn, and carrot combination has remained popular in the color offering ever since the 1880s, at least in North America! This translates into “timeless” and “fail-safe” colors and color combinations that have universal appeal. Where do these colors originate in influence… food… of course!

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The Daily Rind: I love the way some designers think beyond the obvious! Take a second look at these repurposed peels from fruit and vegetables! ”Solskin peels” that function as eating dishware and speakers and from Ori Sonnenschein of Bezalel Academy of Arts/Design from Jerusalem.

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Peas, Corn, Carrots: Marshmallows mimic with a clean version of peas, corn and carrots for stackable seating from Casamania. Hot peppers sconce the wall in vibrant chili Red from Casamania.

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The perfect scenario of the Peas, Corn, Carrot combo is shown here from the company Benchmark. The colors are vibrant together or on their own. How versatile and timeless is that?

Tikkurila "peas, corn and carrot colors"

Tikkurila K384Tikkurila J398Tikkurila K408


Trend Concepts Watch 3: Feathers

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The “idea of fragility” is coming to the forefront of trends, and an element of its influence is showing itself in the form of feathers. Feathers seem to have a fragile quality, yet they possess a strong and protective function in nature. In design, we layer them, use them as accents, and display them as tactile and dimensional textures. Ultimately, feathers translate the feeling of lightness and wanting freedom of flight from the heaviness that surrounds us. Birds will continue to inspire us through the many feather textures and colors.

Terms such as “warm, delicate, airy, sheer, handle with care, and blanketing” come to mind when we experience the texture, shape and color of feathers… and no two are the same! 

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Talents a la Carte at Maison et Objet in January 2012 showcased Eric Charles-Donatien. The basis of his work and material is feathers. In this design, Eric juxtaposes concepts of heavy and light contrasts, often with a sense of fragility of each element. It’s interesting to see how the concept of “heavy” floats and the “light” weighs in. For more information about Eric Charles-Donatien link to

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