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A sign of the times

From BlackWhite magazine - issue 01, red alert

In a world turned upside down, the way we forecast colour trends has been thrown for a loop.

Colour trends have been thrown for a loop

It is a jarring feeling for a society which has become so intrinsically connected and co-dependent to suddenly be siloed within our national borders. There aren't many things this year that haven't become either more challenging, more complicated or in need of a whole new approach. Colour trend forecasting is no different.

We often look to the fashion and automotive industries for an indication of what's coming next to the world of design, chromatically speaking. But the disruption of the global supply chain and widespread cancellation of fashion weeks, tradeshows, conferences, product launches and the like have more or less rendered those insights null and void.

With virtually no one travelling abroad, our individual worlds have shrunk. Gone are the days of product buyers sourcing from far flung lands, or searching out inspiration on journeys to different parts of the globe. Now, our attention and influences have turned hyperlocal to focus on what surrounds us.

A warm cosy room in rich colours
Mood board

Lounge: Back wall in Resene Kalgoorie Sands, left wall in Resene Korma, floor in Resene Hairy Heath, plinths in Resene Kalgoorie Sands and Resene Hairy Heath. Chair and lamp from Good Thing, vase from H&M Home. 

Mood board: Wall in Resene Crail, tabletop in Resene Joss, figure mannequin in Resene Beethoven, jar in Resene Scrub, palette in Resene Teak, brushes in Resene Joss, Resene Beethoven, Resene Tulip Tree, Resene Spring Fever, Resene Teak and Resene Scrub and testpots in Resene Spring Fever and Resene Crail.


Time after time

When times are tough, it's common to get nostalgic for simpler eras. This has led to a repopularisation of trends that were prevalent in the 1930s and 1970s. Whether those times were actually simpler is extremely subjective, of course, but there are some probable reasons why these particular eras are resonating with us today.

Comforting vintage looks

When the bold geometry that has become synonymous with Art Deco style was most popular, the world was in the midst of the Great Depression. During its earlier heyday, Art Deco represented luxury, glamour, exuberance and faith in social and technological progress. While this was more subdued in the 1930s when life was difficult for many, the fine craftsmanship and richness of materials that comes hand-in-hand with artisanal handmade goods remained.

In the 1970s, there was also a great deal of social and political turmoil. Fashion focused on making a statement and was used to reflect personality and beliefs. But there was also that same revival in craftsmanship, especially handmade pottery, warm timber furniture and colours that evoked natural earthiness and comfort.

But the 30s and 70s weren't the first times in history that individuality or craftsmanship were prized, of course. They're just in more recent memory than the times before and were better illustrated and catalogued than they were in the 1800s and earlier. So, in a way our harkening back to these particular times might not just be because we're placing them on a false pedestal – it could be because these were also difficult times where people looked back to even simpler times before.

Vintage colour schemes are popular
A closeup of the sideboard arrangement

Lounge: Many of us romanticise the past when faced with difficulties in the present. Wall in Resene Spanish Green, tongue-and-groove panelling and floor in Resene Half Washed Green, dining table, chair and small picture frame in Resene Blue Smoke, side table, large picture frame, small jug vase and orange in Resene Kalgoorie Sands, fluted vase and lemon in Resene Crowdpleaser, candle, crab apples and grapes in Resene Beachcomber and apple in Resene Sunbaked.

Table top: Wall in Resene Spanish Green, table in Resene Blue Smoke, small jug in Resene Kalgoorie Sands, candle and clog shoe in Resene Beachcomber, apple in Resene Sunbaked, orange in Resene Kalgoorie Sands, lemon in Resene Crowdpleaser, crab apples and grapes in Resene Beachcomber and grape leaves in Resene Blue Smoke.

Core colours that were popular the 1930s and 1970s are among the most popular choices today. Olive and sage greens, terracotta reds and browns, coffee browns, mustard yellows and blush and peachy pinks make up the palette de jour, and we have nostalgia in part to thank for that.

Look to Resene Scrub, Resene Spanish Green, Resene Kalgoorie Sands, Resene Crail, Resene Hairy Heath, Resene Kilamanjaro, Resene Otter, Resene Hot Toddy, Resene Tulip Tree, Resene Japonica and Resene Beethoven as a snapshot of hues that are red hot right now

Resene Crowdpleaser

Resene Sunbaked

Natural healing

While there has never been a time in history where nature hasn't played a role in inspiring us, there have definitely been periods where we have pushed it further aside in favour of technological and manufacturing accomplishments.

But today, in our semi-isolated state, many who were too busy or distracted to take part in outdoor activities have recently rediscovered the awe-inspiring beauty of the natural world that's right in our own backyard. This has had an impact on our colour and design trends in a number of ways.

Studies have shown that spending more time looking at nature can expand the range of colour tones that our eyes and brains are able to perceive and helps us to better differentiate between subtle shifts in shade – especially when it comes to greens. This hue has been dominating the colour world in far more variations than we typically see trending in one colour family, including silver sage greens like Resene Spanish Green and Resene Half Washed Green, celery greens ranging from Resene Pine Glade to Resene Beachcomber, olives from Resene Scrub to Resene Midnight Moss and greens that pack a punch like Resene Away We Go and Resene Spring Fever.

Floral arrangments for natural healing
Colourful letter wall

Floral arrangment: More time outside and an increased focus on our own mental and physical wellbeing is shaping emerging colour trends. Wall in Resene Edgewater, tabletop in Resene Awash, vase in Resene FX Faux Rust Effect and beachcombed objects in Resene Half Aubergine, Resene Designer White, Resene Midnight Moss, Resene Pine Glade, Resene Away We Go and Resene Kilamanjaro.

Letters/Nos: Background in Resene Kilamanjaro with letters and numbers in Resene Juniper, Resene Seachange, Resene Vanquish, Resene Otter, Resene Wafer, Resene Twine, Resene Japonica and Resene Hot Toddy.

An increase in the popularity of green blues, too, is an emerging trend that has been gaining momentum. Greener variations like Resene Blue Smoke and Resene Juniper are leading the charge, but more sea-inspired shades like Resene Awash, Resene Edgewater and Resene Seachange are coming through as hues begin to shift bluer.

This could also be attributed to the move towards increasing focus on personal wellness and attention to selfcare. Not only have many of us been spending more time outside, we have also been at home more and have had to find ways to focus on ourselves as a method of coping with the new stresses we are being faced with. Blues and greens have long been associated with wellness, and surrounding ourselves with them – just like when we're out in nature – has been shown to have both psychological and physiological benefits.

Resene Away We Go

Brighter days ahead

It's not all doom and gloom, though. There may not have been a whole lot of events and holidays to look forward to recently; the things that normally fill us with joyfulness or a lust for life. But there has been an unshakeable collective hope that things will start looking up soon.

Brigher days display
Optimist colours

Glass display: Wall in Resene Sazerac, tabletop in Resene Sandtex Mediterranean finish tinted to Resene Half Sauvignon and painted crystals in Resene Wax Flower, Resene Seachange and Resene SpindleColours: Signs of more optimistic hues are beginning to surface. Background in Resene Shakespeare with plaster jellies in Resene Japonica, Resene Dark Knight, Resene Cashmere, Resene Bone, Resene First Light and Resene Secrets.

It feels like it has been quite some time since the most popular hues weren't dulled or muddied, but there is evidence in our more forward-looking colour forecasts that more buoyant and spirited colours are on the way, including rich and bright oranges, reds, golds and plums.

At the forefront, we're expecting to see more brilliant blues like Resene Shakespeare, jovial yellows like Resene Tulip Tree and cheerier corals like Resene Japonica leading the way before many of today's dusty pastels start to turn peppier. For now though, Resene Spindle, Resene Cashmere, Resene Wax Flower, Resene Sazerac, Resene Twine and Resene First Light are current reigning favourites – but they will also be where this trend will seed from.

Whether these longer term changes will come to fruition when we're expecting them to still remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure – we're looking forward to them being the vanguards to brighter days ahead.

Style: Laura Lynn Johnston
Images: Bryce Carleton


BlackWhite magazine

This is a magazine created for the industry, by the industry and with the industry – and a publication like this is only possible because of New Zealand and Australia's remarkably talented and loyal Resene specifiers and users.

If you have a project finished in Resene paints, wood stains or coatings, whether it is strikingly colourful, beautifully tonal, a haven of natural stained and clear finishes, wonderfully unique or anything in between, we'd love to see it and have the opportunity to showcase it. Submit your projects online or email You're welcome to share as many projects as you would like, whenever it suits. We look forward to seeing what you've been busy creating.

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Colours shown on this website are a representation only. Please refer to the actual paint or product sample. Resene colour charts, testpots and samples are available for ordering online.   See measurements/conversions for more details on how electronic colour values are achieved.