2001: A Color Palette

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Tired of neon-lime green and construction-worker orange? Get ready to mellow out in 2001. With the 2000 Olympic Summer Games based in Sydney, Australia, we'll be seeing a lot of burnt orange from the Australian landscape, predicts Stephen M. Toth, director of inventor relations for Hasbro, Inc. in Cincinnati and a member of the Color Marketing Group, a nonprofit organization of 1,500 color designers from many industries. "The darkened orange color of the landscape will be very important and prevalent," he says. Orange currently is "transcending down here, but it's used a lot in Europe and in the upscale market."

But don't get too attached to it. At CMG's semi-annual meeting in Chicago in April to determine the consumer color palette for 2001 and beyond, shade-savvy marketers and designers acknowledged that the color landscape is changing faster and faster.

"Colors are going to start moving in and out more frequently," says Melanie Wood, former president of the Alexandria, Virginia-based CMG and vice president of design for Salem, New Jersey-based Mannington Mills. "We're moving into color groups, not specific colors."

That's good news for anyone who survived the '70s with a virulent loathing for avocado green, harvest gold, and rustbrown. It's the consumer colors that change the quickest and influence the contract colors (for commercial products) that the CMG discusses every October. Although the dawn of a new millennium indicates a return to earth tones, blue will still be the color of choice because of its universality, but its influence will extend into other colors, Wood says. "Blue will dominate the palette, but reds, greens, and gray will take on blue tones. It's very healing."

Want to stay ahead of the color curve? Watch the upscale fashion and lifestyle magazines, Toth says. Colors trickle down from Paris fashion shows to Neiman-Marcus, Macy's, and Bloomingdale's, and finally to Kmart and Wal-Mart. "By that time, the couturiere is changing again," he notes.

Flesh-tones are coming to the fore as well, Wood adds. "There are lots of cultural influences creeping into the palette," she says. "Bronze, butter yellows, ochres. They're in cosmetics, and we're just starting to see it now in some fashion colors."

Says Toth: "It's a design theory that soon, skin-tone colors will be used in hand-held electronics, to make them seem one with the human body." Techno-savvy Gen Xers and Ys already know the feeling.

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