We sat down with Jotun’s Global Colour Manager – Lisbeth Larsen, to get behind-the-scenes insights on the upcoming colour trends for 2018.
Lisbeth Larsen, colour trend researcher and the Global Colour Manager for Jotun, met with us on the grounds of the paint manufacturer’s Shah Alam headquarters on 30th October this year, to tell us about Jotun’s Global Colour Trends for 2018, and to discuss the process she goes through to discern future preferences.
Jotun’s “Rhythm of Life” Global Colour Trend for 2018 is a collection of 32 colours that Larsen foresees will be the most popular shades found in homes over the next year. The colours are divided into three groups: “City Motions”, “Silent Serenity”, and “Lush Garden” – named for the kind of experiences people are actively seeking, according to research conducted by Larsen.
Larsen looked at the burgeoning urban population around the world and concluded that the city living experience was one shared by most people, “We look at all these people who really love to be in the middle of the city, where everything moves quite fast. It’s also really expensive to live in the middle of the city, which means people tend to look for smaller spaces. Architects these days, they have to build new apartments on top of old buildings – it would be called ‘layered architecture’. Very many of these apartments and flats become a little bit more industrial. So we looked at that tendency and we called it City Motion.”
Speaking on the rationale behind the Silent Serenity group of colours, Larsen elaborated on the source of her inspiration, “Another huge movement these days is the new hippie chic person – who is very flexible, loves to travel all over the world, and they can stay as long as they like because they stay with friends. Right now, very many love to go to California again, where the old hippies from the 60s and the 70s actually travelled. But this time, it’s got so much more luxury. They go into the desert, into the beautiful pink sands, and they stay in these tents – Bedouin tents. Because part of that theme – which is very relaxed, consists of lots of sun-bleached colours which could also be taken from the Middle East, because in the Middle East you’ll find beautiful places especially like a place in Oman called Muscat.”
Contrary to the stark desert vibes of the Silent Serenity group of shades, Larsen describes the basis of the Lush Garden group “The third consumer we were looking at is the kind of consumer we can see all over the world today, All these people who want to dive into the green way of living, and the green way of living means everything from trying to help the world to be a better place to live, to wanting to cleanse the air. But it’s also the fact that people now want to fill their houses with green plants and pretend they are living more or less in the middle of a botanical garden. To be quite honest, the whole inspiration for that theme came from South East Asia, and I love this part of the world.”
Larsen cited the hotel Villa Samadhi as an example, “I stay in a beautiful hotel – which I’ve stayed in four times before. In the middle of KL you have this Villa Samadhi, it’s a small hotel, very few people actually know about it. It’s a green garden. It’s so personal, inside there you have this beautiful little lagoon – it’s not big, but it’s crowded with green plants and beautiful flowers. Two years back, I was staying there I was thinking ‘this could be a beautiful colour theme’ – and it turned out to be that way. So we ended up with a theme which we called the Lush Garden, and this is actually for the person who is really into this natural way of living, this person doesn’t just throw away things because he wants something new, he takes good care of the things he has.”
Poolside of the Villa Samadhi in Malaysia. Image Credit: Lisbeth Larsen
Jotun’s three new colour groups are apparently linked to what could be perceived as the collective yearnings of technologically empowered and economically pessimistic young urbanites bearing the effects of accelerated climate change, as explained by Larsen, “Both that green theme and this desert theme have to do with people wanting to calm down a little bit, they want to lower their shoulders; they don’t want to rush around all the time.” However, this yearning for ecological stability is at odds with our technological dependency, as Larsen puts it, “Personally I believe that the telephone – our smart-phones, destroy a lot of things. Doctors these days talk about ‘digital dementia’, because we keep on forgetting everything: we forget telephone numbers and we can’t even drive our car from A to B without putting on the GPS. Young people these days want to do something beautiful with the world, like making a green way of living – and they want to be a little bit hippie chic again, these two things go perfectly together with the person who wants to live in the middle of the city. Because he moves into the small apartment, he also takes care of the world, and he doesn’t need all these things.”
Image Credit: Lisbeth Larsen
Larsen also offered some insight into the nuances of our region, “When it comes to South East Asia, I’ve got this feeling that they much more now are following their dreams and their feelings. I think in this part of the world people much more believe in what colour can do for them. And that is my whole feeling after talking to architects, to interior designers, and also owners and people who run hotels. And I’ve got this feeling that instead of jumping on new tendencies and trends all the time, it is important for them to adapt colours and tendencies which actually suit them. People in Asia are – I wouldn’t say everybody, but are a little bit more humbled; they think a little bit more about what they should do. They really care about what they choose, like the way you care about your food.”
Image Credit: Lisbeth Larsen
We dug deeper with a probe into the process through which Larsen was able to construct Jotun’s new colour groups, “Creating Jotun Global trends is all about watching people and seeing which way people are actually moving. So instead of deciding upon one colour and saying ‘this is the trend’, we look at what people are doing, what people really like to do.” Larsen explained, “Very many journalists are asking ‘what is the colour of the year’. For me, it is very hard to say what the colour of the year is because these days, lots of different companies do have different kinds of colours which are their colour of the year. We are not here to decide what will be the colour of the year, because it’s all up to the users.”
Trends used to be easily formed by the manufacturers of products themselves, but with the advent of instantly accessible information, consumers could form their own opinions and influence the onset or decay of trends independently, Larson reflected “Back in the 70s, you could actually tell people: ‘OK, now the trousers should be with flares’. You can’t say that anymore – because it’s tights, it’s flares, it’s long dresses, it’s short dresses, it’s everything. It is the people out in the street who actually decide these things, and as a company working with paint and colours, we have to listen to them and make sure they have the best colours in their houses.”
Image Credit: Lisbeth Larsen
“Even though KL is the first place in Asia where we are launching the colours, we can already see from around the world, that we will have one colour of the year, and that is the colours that go in this these blushing peach colours. We can easily see that this is a colour people will really use in their homes, because it can be mixed dark trees and ethnic pieces, but you can also imagine using this with golden metal to make it a little bit more luxurious.”
We went on to press Larsen to elaborate on the indicators for her predictions, “There are some companies around the world that call themselves trend consultants, and of course I listen to them as well – at least some of them.” Larsen heads her own trend consultancy and has worked with the likes of Ikea and H&M in the past. Eventually, Larson confessed to us that a significant part of her research process involves social media platforms, “I’m constantly on social media – actually too much. But for me, I decided that this has come to be and this gives me a lot of inspiration.”
Image Credit: Lisbeth Larsen
Embracing social media, Larsen follows a selection of middle-aged and younger global citizens, “This is the group I look at, because these people are travelling, or they are actually going surfing, or skating.” She also admitted that her process is largely discreet, with most of her research subjects being unaware of their tastes being observed, “I look at the middle-aged generation, what kind of food they take pictures of, where do these younger generations go surfing, where do they go climbing, where do they go skating, and this group comes from all over the world. Without knowing, I am using them for my research.” Speaking on the subject of questionable information sources on social media platforms, Larsen admits, “Of course somebody always lies on social media, but I think at my age I can see through it.”
Click here to see some of Jotun’s colours in action.