The colour revolution

Posted in colour, colour - psychology, colour schemes, colour schemes decorating, colour trends, silver, Trends on November 4th, 2014 by Bernay

How technology and urban regeneration could inspire us towards a lighter, brighter colour trend

For much of the world, global interaction with the ‘web’ and the growing use of technology has for many, changed the face of the way we live and work.

Wearable technology such as Google’s Glass, an interactive pair of glasses with O.H.M.N (Optical Head-Mounted Display) that allow the wearer to navigate, send messages, play music and even improve their golf swing, perhaps moves us a step closer to ‘intuitive’ technology that becomes less an accessory, so much as an integrated  part of our biological being.


Indeed, colour blind artist and ‘eyeborg’ Neil Harbisson, who suffers from a condition known as achromatopsia, has developed a ‘creative antennae’ now permanently embedded in his skull. The internet-enabled device allows him to experience colour as audible sound waves.

But whilst advancing technology has the undoubted potential to improve the quality of and even extend human life, its growth and importance to the way we live, interact with each other and its impact on commerce, means many of the world’s populace now have desk-bound jobs and careers.

Long gone are the days where a higher proportion of work was manual labour. A calorie or carb-rich diet which would have been naturally burned off as fuel for work, now settles itself on the butt, thighs and stomach in swathes of the world’s westernised population.

However, we are now seeing something of an awakening to these problems via a global initiative that is begining to address the effect that the combined problems of inactivity and unhealthy diets have on our well-being.

Many organisations including planning authorities, professional bodies and private companies are attempting to address the issues by working with designers and architects to design buildings and public spaces that encourage daily activity.

Design Council

In the UK, the Design Council has launched the ‘Active’ programme which builds on government health research that shows how people’s quality of life can be improved through better design.

Another movement involving change to the environment is the increase in pop-up colour initiatives, where collaborations of artists and colourists seek to improve the appearance of  environments and buildings suffering from urban decay,  with the use of (often) quite bright colour palettes.

Colouring the grey city - Cairo’s dish painting initiative (image by Rowan El Shimi courtesy of arhamonline)

Colouring the grey city – Cairo’s dish painting initiative (image by Rowan El Shimi courtesy of arhamonline)

Dulux Let’s Colour project – Lido Cinema, Cork

Dulux Let’s Colour project – Lido Cinema, Cork

An increased awareness in the need for the inclusion of more activity in our daily lives could lead us toward a trend for more energising and playful colours used in design; which I see as represented by a lighter, brighter colour palette featuring fresher versions of colours such as aqua-blue and red. When the mood is down, these colours are generally found to be more cheerful and uplifting and it’s no surprise that these kinds of colours are used in urban colour projects.

With the advances in technology becoming more intuitive, I see our response to this represented by the clarity of the sensitive, reflective yet modernist metallic colour of silver.

The colour revolution

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‘Everyday + Finding the wonderful in the normal’ – The Dulux colour collection for 2015

Posted in colour, colour - psychology, colour education, colour schemes, colour schemes decorating, colour trends, colour-psychology, decorating colour ideas, Interior design, Orange, Pink, Trends on October 23rd, 2014 by Bernay

Every year Akzo Nobel invite a group of international independent design and colour trend experts to discuss emerging worldwide colour trends and consumer buying behaviour. After which, senior Dulux colour consultants develop five trend stories and colour palettes at the ColourFutures Workshop inspired by one larger idea or ‘driving influence’ that holds all of the trends together, including what their colour of the year will be.

Everyday + Finding the wonderful in the normal

For 2015, Akzo Nobel declare “the overriding mood is one of both searching for and finding that extra ‘something’ which makes the difference to our lives”.

“There is a renewed emphasis on developing a more caring, sharing environment for all. Sustainability is now a requirement rather than a preference; and it needs to be backed up by genuine commitment. It’s a reaction against consumerism; a celebration of difference and the wisdom to be found in unique, individual stories”.

colour of the year

Colour of the year – Copper Orange

Akzo Nobel have identified that a warmer spectrum of pinks, reds and oranges is emerging, reflecting a more positive global outlook, with metallic colour tones playing an increasingly important role in modern design.  This trend has been translated in to the ‘colour of the year’ - an orangey copper tone (Dulux Ref: 50YR 36/263).

The colour has been selected to complement all of the major trends that Akzo Nobel have identified for 2015: a warmth in attitude and a renewed emphasis on sharing; the natural palette of the earth, from clay tones to sunlit highlights of yellow and the skin tones that reflect human interaction and the sepia hues of the past.

Here are the 5 colour stories as developed by the ColourFutures team, with a brief summation of the inspiration for the concept.

big nature

Big nature + small me

Challenge. Adventure. Wisdom.

The concept for this palette of predominantly warm, rich and earthy shades has been inspired by a new definition of freedom and releasing of the constraints of the modern world by the interaction with the untameable and unpredictable elements of the natural world. “There is a trend for individuals that want to pit themselves against the elements to find out what they are truly made of”.

“It represents a more authentic existence and a new minimalism, stripping away all that is unnecessary and purely cosmetic”.

Layer + layer

Layer + layer

Multi-layers. Overlaid. Patterned.

This combination of predominantly soft and pastel hues, reflect the ‘layered’ trends from the design world and how the combination of different fading, overlaying techniques and opaque materials creates more depth in design.

Unseen spaces

Unseen spaces

Un-noticed. Re-interpretation. New Luxury

A palette of warm and cool tones and shades which we might consider as ‘decorating neutrals’, represents the theme of how we are “learning to value and make use of previously neglected, unseen or unloved areas of our environment and making a virtue out of negative space by creating beauty and use where previously there was none”.

Him + her

Him + her

Equality. Uniqueness. Balance

A palette of dark and light tones and shades, male (blue) and female (pink) colours, have been inspired by a growing trend towards ‘celebrating the best of each sex’ and the importance of difference as well as equality. Men and women are increasingly being encouraged to play on the traditions of masculinity and femininity and re-engage with more traditional ‘gender-appropriate’ interests and approaches.

Friendly barter

Friendly barter

Resourcefulness. Collaboration. Community.

Here, Akzo Nobel have tapped into one of the most significant social trends of recent years - “our rethinking and redefining of the concept of ‘ownership”.

This lively, quirky colour palette of predominantly warm shades have been inspired by the effects of an ever-increasing influence of the digital world and its influence in creating a new, collaborative economy of ‘friendly barter’ that has established itself and connected to the world of commerce.

“Consumerism is thus replaced by a sense of collective resourcefulness. Consumers now seek out goods and services via a collaborative model based on sharing and borrowing via a community of like-minded individuals”.

For more information about ColourFutures 2015, see here.

For more about the colour trend of orange, see here.

Would you be interested in learning more about colour? Have a look at our new course for 2015!

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Colour trends at London Design festival 2014

Posted in Blue, colour, colour - psychology, colour schemes, colour schemes decorating, colour trends, colour-psychology, decorating colour ideas, Orange, Trends on October 15th, 2014 by Bernay

The September London Design festival offered up interior design shows with plenty of exciting stands from new and existing design companies.

The mood certainly seemed more positive and upbeat than we have seen in a few years – a reflection of the upturn and gradual return of confidence in our economy perhaps?

As an interested observer of colour trends, I like to keep an eye out for any recurring popular or emerging themes. Last year, I highlighted designs with a much bolder use of colour, which this year emerged in embroidered or woven bold graphic and ‘folk’ designs. In particular, the work of designer Bethan Laura Wood and A Rum Fellow caught my eye.


A Rum Fellow’s pieces are rooted in heritage techniques. In particular, Mayan embroidered textiles in vivid kaleidoscopic colour ways.


The Guadalupe Daybed designed by Bethan Laura Wood is covered in Divina, an exquisitely appliqued Kvadrat wool embroidered by Laura Lees.

An interesting and lively colour combination popped up on various exhibitor stands in furniture and fabric displays – orange and turquoise/blue.


I love this combo, it’s both fresh and upbeat! Earlier in the post I mentioned how this years’ shows reflected a more buoyant mood?


Two years ago I was talking to students about the colour orange, and how I felt it would become popular post-recession. Orange is a colour which conveys a spirit of fun, comfort, abundance and feeling safe. Together with this brighter-hued blue, it creates a wholly positive vibe and captures the current spirit of optimism as we emerge from the challenges of the last few years.




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50 ways with grey and other colour conundrums

Posted in choosing paint colours, colour, colour - psychology, colour schemes, colour schemes decorating, colour training, colour trends, colour-psychology, decorating colour ideas, Interior design on May 23rd, 2014 by Bernay

KLC Heals 2

An enjoyable time this week at Heal’s Design Day threw up some interesting customer ‘colour conundrums’ from Homes & Gardens magazine readers for me to solve.

Held at Heal’s store in Tottenham Court Road and in conjunction with KLC School of Design, readers were invited to come along with their decorating and design dilemmas.

Two main key themes emerged – those that were looking for inspiration on where to start with colouring a ‘blank canvas’ home, and those that were struggling with how to work the current trend for grey.

photos 047

The blank canvas

One of the best tips I can give for finding inspiration for decorating your home, is to create a mood board.

Collecting pictures, photos, and scraps of textiles that you like, and mounting them on a good size piece of card will help you to focus your thoughts and ideas about what you like.

You may find recurring themes of shapes, patterns, textures and colours which will give you some good pointers as to how to develop your own style. From there, you can collect swatches of fabric, wallpaper and paint samples inspired by your collection.

Painting yourself in to a corner

Grey is often described under the category of ‘neutral’ colours and as it’s essentially a mix of black and white, it can add some sophistication to a colour scheme. But, although grey is currently a colour trend, I have met an increasing number of people that have painted themselves in to a bit of a corner by decorating the whole room in it and realised that they haven’t felt quite comfortable – but don’t know why.

You only have to picture a gloomy grey sky with little light to imagine the dampening effect it might have on your mood. Similarly, too much of this colour will have that effect on how you feel in your home.

grey and green       grey and orange       grey and pink

Grey is however, an excellent background colour from which to ‘bounce’ other vibrant and interesting colours – and this is the key for how to make it work. If decorating with grey, choose a lively accent colour, one that perhaps is brighter and more dynamic  to bring your scheme to life.

From peppy reds to zingy orange, lime and yellow colours – choosing a more assertive colour to complement grey will add visual interest and create an eye-catching scheme.

Would you like to learn the secrets of creating a successful colour scheme?

Come and join me at the next Colour Psychology for Interior Design course – July 2014. More details here.


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Posted in Branding on May 9th, 2014 by Bernay



This month, I’ve been invited to take part in HEAL’S DESIGN DAY at Heal’s fabric and design studio in London on 21 May.

Celebrating the launch of Heal’s own label fabric range and in conjunction with KLC School of Design and Homes & Gardens magazine, I’ll be there as one of three consultants offering readers expert advice on design and colour.

I’m looking forward to meeting Homes & Gardens readers, meeting the team at Heal’s and seeing the new range – the first Heal’s have developed since the 1970s!

New summer and autumn courses!

Colour psychology for interior design

paint brush 500

For anyone who would like to learn more about colour for interiors for their own business or home, I’ve posted 2 new course dates for summer and autumn 2014.

Revised and refreshed –  these courses offer 3 days of inspiration, motivation and renewed creativity for interior designers, decorating professionals and home decorators that will help you to reinvigorate your business and design work, and look at projects in a new way and with new enthusiasm.

The courses will be from 9th – 11th July and also again over 3 consecutive Saturdays: September 27th, October 4th & 11th. Please visit the in:colour website course information page for further details!


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