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Friday, January 20, 2012

And the 2012 Color of the Year is – ta-da – two colors

Actually, this is nothing new. The “Color of the Year” typically is two colors because the two, important color-forecasting groups usually predict different colors. Sometimes their colors are similar, but most of the time, like this year, they choose different colors for the same reasons. Confusing? Yes.

Both groups – the Color Marketing Group (CMG) and the Pantone Color Institute – forecast their colors of the year, as well as multiple color palettes, based on a slew of factors: the colors being used by high-end designers; color influences in media, music, art and digital design; current and predicted social, economic and cultural forces in America and abroad.

Pantone sends its employees out to research the world in pursuit of colors while CMG holds semi-annual conferences for their members, who are color designers. The end results of the CMG conferences are their color trend forecasts.

Pantone and CMG’s forecasts are used for consumer goods, fashion design, interior design, graphic design, entertainment, transportation (remember the year of the purple car?) and more. Individual companies usually choose either Pantone or CMG to develop their colors.

Not surprisingly, the economy has played a big role in color forecasting for several years. Both groups have chosen bright colors to foster optimism in trying times. Environmentalism also has been a factor in both group’s palette predictions, off and on since at least the mid-2000s.

Pantone’s 2012 Color of the Year is “Tangerine Tango.”

Pantone chose this year’s color, as they did last year’s color, to perk us up in the face of our continuing economic woes although they don’t say it quite that way: “The 2011 color of the year, PANTONE 18-2120 Honeysuckle, encouraged us to face everyday troubles with verve and vigor. Tangerine Tango, a spirited reddish orange, continues to provide the energy boost we need to recharge and move forward.”

For 2012, CMG is predicting “Boyz-n-Berry” as its “NEXT” color (aka its color of the year).

Boyz-n-Berry is already turning up in fashion. Here’s Sasha Obama sporting Pantone’s Color of the Year in the presidential family portrait. Her dad’s tie looks like a paler version of Boyz-n-Berry, too.


CMG describes their reddish purple as an optimistic color that will foster health in people. They also have something darker to say about Boyz-n-Berry in relation to other colors: “Simply, with black it (Boyz-n-Berry) is warm and darkly evocative, offering richness and depth, even if it takes us to the dark side of the imagination with vampires and the cosmic black hole. When paired with white, Boyz-n-Berry plays well with ermine furs of royalty, with stark white sand beaches, and the brightness of the bright lights.”

I just hope that color-forecasting groups are not getting into predicting vampire trends.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Lighting with driftwood and pebbles

There's nothing like having something on your mind and then seeing it everywhere. Yesterday I received an email about a new catalog from a French company that uses recycled products, mostly reclaimed wood and pebbles, for their products. Bleu Nature designs furniture, lighting, accessories and textiles (not made of pebbles or driftwood).

Part of what's unusual about their designs is that they're using rustic materials to create pieces in a contemporary (aka modernist) style. They're not the first company to use that combo, but it's hard to carry off, and they're not exactly successful at it. Some of their indoor furniture is interesting, and I can imagine their outdoor folding screen in a commercial setting. I've seen similar pieces in art galleries.

So here's one of their driftwood chandeliers.

Here's one of their chandeliers made of "pebbles" although the pebbles seem big enough to be stones.

My home may be eclectic, but I don't think rustic modernism will fit in. Eclectic design doesn't mean using everything you find on a beach.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The light fixture hunt (aka contest) is on

It’s the 12th of January, and I’m still planning on keeping one of my new year’s resolutions. The resolution in question: To replace three ugly lighting fixtures in my home, which isn’t as simple as it sounds.

My husband and I bought our house 10 years ago, and I’ve been living with lighting fixtures that I hate all this time. Why didn’t I just replace them when we bought the house? The project involves more than just swapping out the fixtures. The main problem is one that I see in dining room construction everywhere.

The dining room lighting fixture is mounted in the center of the room instead of over the center of the dining table. If I wanted recessed lighting or a light fixture that hugged the ceiling, this location wouldn’t be a problem. But I want a pendant light over my dining table, and we designers are a picky lot, especially when it comes to our own homes.

Changing the fixture location means cutting a hole in the ceiling drywall, patching the existing hole and repainting the ceiling. Although my living room, dining room and entryway are discrete areas, they share the same ceiling, and I only had time to paint the room walls, not the big ceiling, before we moved in. Since then, I’ve been busy designing other people’s homes and spending my discretionary time and money on traveling and a backyard renovation.

I also want a dining room fixture that uses recycled materials. There are plenty of them around now, but many of them are by artists or very small companies that make one-of-a-kind designs. I’ve seen fixtures made of everything from soda can pop tops to plastic spoons to bicycle chains. Many of them are too big, too expensive, too hard to clean, too fragile, too whatever for my home.

This is my current dining room fixture that needs to go:

So how do you and I find the right pendant light fixture for my dining room or for anyone’s dining room when the center of the room is not the center of the dining table? Start with the size of the space where the fixture will hang. The ceiling height and the size of the table matter, too. You don’t want a gigantic chandelier above a small table in a small space. You also don’t want a fixture that hangs so low that the fixture and its light annoy the diners.

I won’t go into how I calculated my lighting fixture size, but I would like a pendant-style, dining room fixture that is approximately 24” wide with a drop of about 34”. (The drop is the height from the ceiling to the bottom of the light fixture.) The style of my home is eclectic, so pretty much anything is a possibility in terms of the look although I do want something reasonably durable (not made of playing cards, for example) and something that can be cleaned – periodically. I can’t spend the world on it either.

Oh, I also want a smaller pendant light for my entryway. It needs to go with the dining room fixture although not necessarily match it. I’m also going to replace my kitchen light fixture, but it’s not part of this search.

My current entryway fixture matches the dining room fixture, but it's smaller, much smaller. This must be one of the ugliest lighting fixtures around:

So post your suggestions for my dining room light with links to photos of the fixtures and information about them in the “Comments” section of the blog. If you see any great fixtures with recycled materials that wouldn’t work for my dining room, post those links, too. They may work for someone else, and looking at creative fixtures is always fun.

This is a contest, of sorts. If my husband and I end up buying a dining-room lighting fixture that one of you submit, you’ll win a copy of the 2012 “National Green Pages,” a great resource for goods and services provided by certified green businesses nationwide. If I end up buying a fixture that I find, I’ll hold a raffle among all of the people following my blog and award the “National Green Pages” to the raffle winner. Yes, my husband does have a voice in the fixture selection, but I’ll vouch for his taste.