The colour of the year

Hygge-fy your home with Heart Wood hue

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

What will your walls be wear­ing next year? The shade of the near-fu­ture is a muted heather-grey, ac­cord­ing to Du­lux. The com­pany has declared that its colour of the year for 2018 is Heart Wood, a name meant to evoke a wider theme: the con­cept of home as sanc­tu­ary in a dif­fi­cult world. Ac­cord­ing to the paint brand, when times get tough, we want a re­treat.

Like all the most in­ter­est­ing paint shades, Heart Wood is hard to de­scribe and seems to change char­ac­ter de­pend­ing on what it is placed next to. Re­becca Wil­liamson, se­nior colour and de­sign ex­pert at Du­lux, says it “sits some­where be­tween smoky taupe and dusky mauve. It’s a warm neu­tral with a heather hint.” If you thought neu­trals meant only black, white, grey and beige, you might be sur­prised to find this shade de­scribed as such, but Heart Wood’s ver­sa­til­ity means it de­serves the at­tribute.

For fash­ion-con­scious de­sign­ers, it’s a use­ful ad­di­tion to the ex­ist­ing trend for nude pink, deep in­digo and warm me­tals such as cop­per and brass; but for the more con­ven­tional dec­o­ra­tor, “it also works with an off-white or soft beige,” says Wil­liamson. “It could be used just on a piece of painted fur­ni­ture or a bit of wood­work – it’s good as a front door colour, which is some­where peo­ple tend to be more ex­pres­sive. But if you want that feel­ing of be­ing in a com­plete co­coon, it’s great all over.”

When con­ceiv­ing its colour of the year, Du­lux thinks be­yond the paint it­self, link­ing the shade with ma­te­ri­als, tex­tures or ob­jects to build up a big­ger pic­ture of how it might be used. Heart Wood’s cosi­ness has a nat­u­ral affin­ity with tac­tile ma­te­ri­als such as leather and vel­vet, says Wil­liamson, but above all it is a good match with warm-toned tim­bers – a sign that we are mov­ing away from the ubiq­uity of blonde woods such as birch and to­wards heartier cherry and wal­nut.

Du­lux has been trend fore­cast­ing for 25 years, via an in­ter­nal cam­paign called Colour Fu­tures, but has only broad­casted its find­ings for the last five. Every year in Am­s­ter­dam, Du­lux’s par­ent com­pany Ak­zoNo­bel brings to­gether its colour ex­perts from 80 coun­tries, plus other pro­fes­sion­als, from so­cial and eco­nomic fore­cast­ers to ar­chi­tects and tech lead­ers, to pin down the mood of the mo­ment.

“We don’t talk about paint at all,” says Mar­i­anne Shilling­ford, Du­lux’s cre­ative di­rec­tor. “We talk about what’s hap­pen­ing in the world, and what’s driv­ing the way the world be­haves – what we’re buy­ing, where we’re go­ing on hol­i­day, what’s im­por­tant and what’s not im­por­tant. Then we dis­til that down into one over­ar­ch­ing theme.”

This year, that theme was in­sta­bil­ity. “The feel­ing was that we were liv­ing in un­cer­tain times. We don’t trust the news, we don’t know what’s go­ing to hap­pen next, we have di­vi­sions in our so­ci­ety, and it’s af­fect­ing how we’re liv­ing,” says Shilling­ford.

Whereas in pre­vi­ous years Du­lux fo­cused on lots of smaller life­style trends – the nar­row­ing bound­ary be­tween our work and our per­sonal life, for ex­am­ple, or the de­sire to buy less, but buy bet­ter – this year there was just one sin­gle idea. “The ray of light that peo­ple are look­ing for within all the un­cer­tainty is home,” she says. “It’s where we can re­ally feel safe and nur­tured; we con­trol how it looks, who comes there and how we in­ter­act with the world from within it. So, our over­ar­ch­ing theme be­came ‘a wel­come home’.”

Of course, ev­ery­one has a dif­fer­ent idea of what a sanc­tu­ary looks like, so Du­lux put to­gether three sug­gested pal­ettes, all fea­tur­ing Heart Wood. The Com­fort­ing Home col­lec­tion fea­tures clay and blush pink, for those who put qual­ity and cosi­ness above all else and for whom home is a pri­vate space full of mean­ing­ful ob­jects. The Invit­ing Home range is full of shades of blue – “still the world’s favourite colour,” says Shilling­ford – and re­flects the type of peo­ple who see home as a space to en­ter­tain in and con­nect with oth­ers. Fi­nally, bolder shades such as mus­tard yel­low and dark green are in­cluded in The Play­ful Home pal­ette, which might ap­peal to no­madic types who see home as place for a quick recharge be­fore head­ing off on their next ad­ven­ture.

What many of these colours have in com­mon is a sub­dued qual­ity thanks to the in­clu­sion of grey tones. “Grey is like thick cho­co­late on a bis­cuit – it makes it de­li­cious,” says Shilling­ford. “It mutes a colour, makes it ac­ces­si­ble, and takes off the vis­ual shou­ti­ness. It makes it re­ally easy to live with.” So, if you’re han­ker­ing for a feel­ing of en­velop­ing safety in an un­cer­tain world, a tin of paint could be your salve.

No place like home: Du­lux says that the paint’s soft and neu­tral hues coun­ter­bal­ance the in­sta­bil­ity of the out­side world

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