Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Why Teal? How Designers Determine Which Colour Is In...

Just yesterday I saw this fabulous blog by Marks and Spencer and felt I just had to share it with you.  It beautifully details the process that the design team go through when selecting the colour palette they choose for the forthcoming seasons.  The blog focusses on home interiors which I though was a nice change from fashion too; though much of the process applies to fashion too. So,  I thought I would share it with you.  

This Blog post is reproduced from the Marks & Spencer Blog, called 'Stories' - which is also a great read to add to your blog list. http://social.marksandspencer.com/
Conran autumn collection
So Marks & Spencer over to you: -
Every season, new colours hit our high streets. We are suddenly inundated with yellow dresses, or pink duvets. There are definite trends – fresher, cooler colours in the spring, for example, and richer, warmer ones in autumn – but the palette can change drastically year-on-year.
How do designers decide which colours to use in their products? When the January editions of monthly glossies proudly declare that the ‘colour of the year’ is fuschia, teal, or cherry red, what do they mean? To shed some light on colour (so to speak), we asked Lale Guralp, a textile designer at Conran, to explain how the Conran team go about picking colours for the Conran Exclusive Design for M&S range.
Conran colour inspiration
The process of colour selection begins around 10-12 months before the products hit M&S shelves. This poses an immediate problem: in the middle of the winter doldrums, we have to start pretending it’s autumn!
First, we make sure we’re aware of what’s out there. This means looking at magazines, attending trade shows, and thinking about what the next step could be – and what a Conran take on it could look like. We find images that include colours and combinations we like and that work well together, and layer them up on mood boards to develop a colour palette. Our images can come from anywhere, from recipe cards to school textbooks.
From the images we pull out the key colours and paint up some swatches with options for each. Anything goes at this stage – including, for this autumn’s M&S range, some very wild yellows.
Painted colour samples and cushions

Featured above: Tonal Felt Cushions
We then slim this palette down to a core set of product-ready colours, and try to select a precise Pantone colour number (a colour cataloguing system) for each. This ensures everyone is looking at the exact same colour.
Pantones and rugs

Featured above: Colour Burst Rug and Overlay Circles Rug.
Next, we work with our suppliers to get materials that match these colours closely, sending them the relevant Pantone numbers so they know exactly what we mean. Frustratingly, it’s often all but impossible to get an exact match.
Rug and upholstery
Deciding on a palette of colours is one thing, but we also need to determine the proportions of each colour to use across the collection, as well as in each product. The bright colours are often better-suited to smaller pieces such as cushions, or accent details, whereas blues and grays make good base colours.
Colour bars and cushion
Featured above: Graphic Block Cushion.
We represent the ideal proportions of each colour in a particular room using colour bars. Note how mustard, pink and orange – the boldest colours in the collection – are used sparingly.
Once this is all decided, we begin matching colours with pieces (the physical design of which is already in progress), referring back to the colour bars to make sure we use each colour in the right proportion. The final palette we choose tends to be unique, even though many of the colours overlap with those of other designers, suggesting that there’s a bit more to it than personal taste!
Wow.  Thanks M&S, that's really insightful.  And oh how I  miss you in Switz.  Please come as I so need new cushions even although Mr Mirror Ball despairs at the 15 he has already counted in the house. 
Lady MB xx
PS:  As an aside one of the great tips of colour combining is to pick a palette and mix it terms of %.  For example predominant colour at 60% of combination, the second colour at 30% of the combination and an accent at 10% of the combination.  You can think of how you put an outfit together in this way too.  But for now what colour combinations are you loving this season?


Mark Taylor said...

embroidered workwear

Lady Mirror Ball said...

Mark Taylor and Creative Workwear have great taste. Will be checking creative workwear out. Thanks for dropping by x