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How do you identify colour trends? Interview with Zukunftstil

Today, experts Livia Baum and Jutta Werner from Zukunftstil, a renowned colour and trend agency that specialises in creating unique concepts for companies in the fields of interiors, fashion, products, materials and patterns, offer us an insight into the world of colour and trend development.

With passion and creativity, they systematically combine trends and colours to offer their customers the best possible advice. They are not only concerned with aesthetics, but also with the deeper meaning of colour as a reflection of our society. Their mission is to identify and recognise future trends at an early stage through a methodical and analytical approach. In the following interview, they give us an exclusive look into their working methods and share their insights into the exciting world of colour and trend research.

Livia Baum und Jutta Werner
Livia Baum and Jutta Werner

Trendscouting and research

How should people imagine your job if they’ve never had any contact with it before?

Colour is our most important design tool. It is symbolic, guides us through the room, takes on a function or stands for a mood and emotion. Colour is also a trend and we see it as a reflection of society. In most cases, many values and desires are reflected through colours and colour compositions – these are all topics that we deal with.

Our work also consists of four pillars: scouting, collection, realisation and science. Scouting forms the basis and takes place at least twice a year. This is where the current market and society are analysed and the results linked together. The trends are then translated into collections – for different sectors, value groups and time frames. Implementation involves making the trend directions tangible for the customer via trend books or at trade fairs, in showrooms or at workshops. Science is our basis and we always analyse ourselves in terms of methodology and design considerations.

Trendresearch bei Zukunftstil

How do you come across colours and what criteria do you use to include them in your trend portfolio?

We regularly go to trade fairs, gather inspiration from exhibitions, blogs, magazines and lectures and regularly hold trend panels with other experts from the fields of colour, interiors and architecture. We take in everything we come across in the areas of fashion, interiors, architecture, graphics, materials or art, for example. Up to 6000 images are collected per panel – this trend panel takes place two to three times a year. We compare the development with previous panels, look for changes, randomly occurring colours, styles or combinations, which we then continue to observe over the next period of time.

The first step in scouting is to collect information, after which the images are clustered according to different categories using image clouds. This means that collections are created for similar styles, colours or a social context. The next step is to condense the results into a core statement about the creation of mood boards in order to then divide the trend world into codes of meaning, such as colour, material, pattern or the underlying lifestyle. In this way, a trend is analysed in a tangible and comprehensible way.

Over the years, we have built up our own colour library in our heads. This visual training is very important and trains our own visual memory.

Erstellen eines Farbkonzepts bei Zukunftstil

Colour concepts and emotions

In your opinion, which colours and colour combinations are best suited to create a calming and at the same time inspiring atmosphere in the workplace?

This is very individual and, depending on the company, also linked to the people and the corporate identity. Today, employees need to feel comfortable and the space must be able to offer different situations and atmospheres.

There are various ways of creating a harmonious working atmosphere. For example, there is the Urban Living trend, where the focus is on dark, intense colours and the office becomes the new living room – it can also be exclusive and expressive, giving it a boutique character. The boundaries to the office are becoming increasingly blurred here. Another option is Multi Creation. This is the creative zone that expresses itself through strong and pure colours. Here, everything is skilfully mixed and individuality and a relaxed atmosphere are created with a playful touch – almost like in a studio. Soft Being, on the other hand, reinterprets nature. Shades of green in many nuances mix with rust, orange or eggplant, and brown. The freshness and well-being conveyed is supported by natural materials and a traditional feel. The Smart Balance style stands for balance, calm and deceleration. Grey, sand and light shades of blue and green also stand for a mixture of nature, digitality and function.

A multi-sensory experience

In addition to colours, other sensory stimuli also play a role. How can a multi-sensory experience in the workplace be enhanced by the choice of colours?

Haptics play a very important role at the moment. The sensory experience must go together with the colour. Ideally, everything forms a unit.

Smell or music are also important elements and can reinforce colours or direct associations. Colour and surface should also go together to create a coherent overall picture.

Sustainability and well-being

To what extent can sustainable colour schemes help increase employee wellbeing while promoting environmental responsibility?

First of all, the question arises: What is a sustainable colour concept? Is it something long-term or does sustainability come from a strong connection to nature?

Today, sustainability no longer just has to look sustainable, it’s more about what’s behind it and the content. Depending on the application or content reference, the appearance can look stylistically sustainable, but it doesn’t have to. This is a new interpretation of sustainability. We also like to say “sustainability goes pink”.

In natural interpretations, approaches with plant-based colours are very exciting. The use of healthy materials and colours, i.e. colours and materials that support our lives and keep us healthy, is also very innovative. Recycling and upcycling are just as beautiful approaches as biophilic design, which is increasingly becoming the focus of design. After all, nature is our greatest source of inspiration.

Outlook for the future

How do you see the development of colour trends and sensory journeys in the context of modern workplace design in the coming years?

Emotions are becoming more and more important and are increasingly being addressed through more conscious design. A targeted approach to colour and emotions contributes to well-being in the workplace.

We can also be bolder with colour – this creates individuality and gives the workplace character.

The office needs to open up more and more and become a meeting place. Living, office and retail areas are now merging even more. The office is being viewed less and less as a pure workplace and is instead becoming a place where people come together and exchange ideas. This should also be addressed through the design using all the senses.

Farbkonzept im Farbkochbuch von Zukunftstil und Sedus

Livia and Jutta have developed the Colour Cookbook for Sedus

“The Colour Cookbook” focuses specifically on the colour design of office areas. It is an indispensable tool for architects, interior designers, office consultants and planners who specialise in the professional furnishing of office and working environments. With a total of 48 colour recipes presented, the book shows innovative fabrics and textures in combination with coloured surfaces and woods.

The colour recipes presented are designed according to work area and trend world and enable individual colour combinations. The book takes into account various work areas such as relaxation, concentration, communication and collaboration as well as current trends such as Smart Balance, Urban Living, Soft Being and Multi Creation. The carefully researched colour recipes can be easily and practically combined and are intended to encourage people to integrate more colour into their everyday working life.

Many thanks for the great interview. More projects and more about Zukunftstil can be found here.

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