The colour of the year
Hygge-fy your home with Heart Wood hue
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