Quirky names, cool colour combinations for 2014

Kya deLongchamps looks ahead to the shades shining from the colour palettes of the top paint houses for 2014.

Dew-soaked plums bobbing on a knotty, lichened branch; freshly mashed pumpkin pie steaming by the Aga; emerald mosses torn from the blue laddered light of the forest floors — reading around the paint colour cards for 2014, I was carried away on a light wind of downy prose.

Then, the needle rudely scratched the Chopin playing in my head, and I came across ‘Mole’s Breath’ by Farrow & Ball. Yes, readers, a paint name inspired by the breath of a mole. Was the consultant for F&B lying on Caulke Green grass, looking up at Lullworth Blue sky, when a mole strolled up and delivered a tiny worm-pungent gasp on his/her cheek?

A ‘mesmerising drab’, the press release entoned. Enough was enough. It was time for Kya to tear off the ornamental adjectives, step past the second line of heady praise in the magazine features, and take a monochrome look at what goes on in paint colour design and marketing, Mole’s Breath and all.

It turns out that a limited range of colours are decided upon by much of the interiors industry, three to four years head of time. Working together rather than against each other, they settle on a harmonious range of shades that can sit side by side in a room. This simply makes good business sense.

The Colour Marketing Group, (founded in 1962), in their highly secretive upper floor meetings of design professionals and celebrated workshops worldwide, (Colorchrome Colour Forecasting Events), predict colour twice a year, for the 18 months to come. The European palette of 12 colours is previewed by manufacturers, (for a price), to set the exact colours on their products including domestic appliances and even cars.

The colours are put into accurate colour form by Pantone, the world leader in colour communication and matching, for designers of everything from fine carpets to the carcasses of washing machines.

The state of the economy has a curious influence on colours in the marketplace. According to CMG, colours in the US are cooling off from the highly saturated recession colours, to more conservative neutrals as the economy stabilises.

Louise Smith is senior colour designer at Akzonobel, the team behind the Dulux brand of colour. Their keenly anticipated Colour Futures 2014, has just dropped into the hands of journalists worldwide including the claws of yours truly. If I told you the colours before the champagne launch at Design Week in Dublin on Nov 7, I would be drowned in a vat of emulsion but trust me — there’s plenty of colour on show. Louise and her team are on a high:

“I think it will be some time before we’re confident enough to paint out the brights and return to beige,” she says. Trends as a two-year lagged prediction, are not always accurate or successful. One forecaster for CMG determined ‘sand brown’ as leading us into the winter of 2014. Sand brown, where are you now?

Sarah Cole, director of Farrow & Ball, explains that heritage colours for which this iconic brand are known are their stock and trade.

“We only introduce new colours into our range every two-three years as our palette of 132 colours is designed to be timeless.

“When we do add new colours they are created in-house by our creative team and colour consultants, who work closely with our customers on all types of homes. It’s important to recognise how trends evolve and change so we can be sure our colours are current and relevant.”

Nature has always been a huge influence in the work of the more traditional paint makers, and nature is also recommended by CMG, as customers look towards durable, faithful, elemental ingredients at home for comfort from in uncertain times. Colour appears to return to the colour cards, but as Louise Smith of Azkonobel reveals, some colours never really went away, they are just back in play.

“Just as in fashion, it’s the colour combinations that are more often new, rather than the colour itself.

“We do launch new colours regularly but a colour that has been out of favour for a long time may make a comeback as part of a new exciting combination,” she says.

One of the new colours on the Farrow & Ball palette, Stiffkey Blue, takes its inspiration from the sapphire sheen of the mud found on a beach in Stiffkey in Norfolk. With its debut, a number of wallflowers on the F&B& earlier cards have come forward as the & team explain.

“Stiffkey is wonderful for creating either a light-hearted environment when used with Light Blue and Setting Plaster, or for something more dramatic — with Off-Black.”

Fashion has always played a vital lead in interior colours; in textiles, flooring tiles, furnishing and more. The key colours and combinations stalking the catwalks in Paris, New York, London, and Milan, are reflected in the colour cards in the following season, as consumers assimilate and respond.

This transition traditionally took several years for paint colour, but Louise Smith of Dulux Futures says the response times from catwalk to paint pot have become much faster.

“Interior design used to follow slowly behind fashion, but now it is hot on its heels. We frequently want new on-trend accessories for our homes and the perfect paint colour needs to be available to complete the look.”

A great name can work wonders, but the over-excited adjectives are always a topic amongst buyers. Still, take Crown’s new glorious green Abundance. Abundance? It’s ringing your dependable nature bell, and yes, it is slightly retro, it’s certainly a bit folksy, and green has a stimulating feel to energise us into work. It’s much easier to invest €25 for five litres of Abundance, than say Weedy Green.

However, to return to Farrow & Ball and the mole. Who could resist Sarah Cole’s enchanting comeback.

“‘Our quirky names are as much a part of the colour as the colour itself. “We are inspired by our surroundings, the colours of nature, animals, and historic houses. St Giles Blue for example is taken from a colour found in the hall of 17th century St Giles House.

“Mizzle, is the West Country term for the mixture of misty and drizzle. Other colours like Nancy’s Blushes and Charlotte’s Locks are named after mystery people we actually know.”


Colour wheel turns to brights for interiors

¦ If you want to know where the primary colours are drifting, this is what we discovered from a look at all the makers’ decisions for the coming year. Remember, choose what you like and keep in mind that individual colour responds differently in combination with alternative companion shades. Any of these colours can play with the achromatic assurance of pure, blessed white.

Green: If there’s a single colour that’s said to make 2014 in interiors it’s green- and blue-based folksy green, not just polite naturals. The searing emerald colours that the Colour Marketing Group talked about as far back as 2012 will spring to life next year.

Yellow: Calming down from hysteric citrus brights to offer other more greyed out turmeric spices. Think of colours produced with natural dyes rather than rubber duck yellow. If you like optimistic shades you’ll enjoy these more sedate choices, ideal to put some flavour on shy urban neutrals like taupe.

Blue: To be completely on trend, it has to be teal, colour of the year for Dulux. Blue moving towards green and green towards blue. A confident choice, and far from cold.

Orange: Not only arriving this year but surviving into 2014, and where yellow is receding, orange is reddening up to ruby grapefruit. Forget the hideous popsicle colours for determined deep orange to flame against soft pinks and dull yellows.

Red: Another shade refusing to be tamed. Good old maroon and a bloody burgundy are warming up the palettes of every major paintmaker. Slide it up against pink or take it even deeper towards brown if you dare. Louse Smith recommends Dulux Russian Rouge, taken from the painted decoration on Russian dolls.

Neutrals: More feminine greys that are easier to incorporate than the dead thud of concrete colours are drifting through not only the urban downstairs settings but lying softly with pinks and lavenders in the bedroom. Soft floaty colours are always on offer in the new schemes and 2014 is no exception.

Lustres: Crown paints march to their own drum and have added ‘Lustre’ as one of their key trends of 2013/14, and it’s a choice of their popular celebrity stylist Neville Knott. It’s an opulent range of... ‘reflective surfaces and eye-catching hues of minerals, metals, and precious elements’.


The Dulux Design Hub @ 51c Dawson Street, opens its doors for Design Week Ireland, November 4-10.

The Hub will host free lunchtime and evening talks including: ‘Unlocking Your Interior Design Potential at Home’ with RT…’s Design Doctor, Denise O’Connor.

Denise will equip visitors with key skills to tackle their spaces at home as well as addressing the whys and wonders of trending colours for 2014.

The 40-minute talks are fun, free, and open to all. ¦ www.designweek.ie.


Ed Power says there are some terrific children’s movies to enjoy as a family so sit back and get zapping.The best children's movies to enjoy as a family this winter

This week I am going to devote my entire column to cakes and baking.Darina Allen on cakes and baking: Buy the finest ingredients and always use butter

WE went shoe shopping for the kids at the weekend. To be honest, I couldn’t see anything wrong with the old shoes.Learner Dad: 'I’m afraid of being in a shop with my kids'

Well first and foremost, it depends what type of cold you have, as Prudence Wade discovers.Should you exercise when you’ve got a cold?

More From The Irish Examiner