Palette Power

A Portland gathering of color specialists will choose the next big hues.

By Kasey Cordell October 12, 2010 Published in the November 2010 issue of Portland Monthly

OH, HOT PINK, how we ♥ thee. Again. Just like we did in the ’80s, along with all your fluorescent cousins. In our idealistic version of how culture works, color trends just organically develop. But in reality, about 200 members of the Color Marketing Group sit in a room and—as they have for at least 20 years—hash out what the next “it” hues will be.

This month, the CMG holds its twice-yearly conference in Portland for the first time, bringing together members from 24 countries who specialize in everything from paper to clothing to interior design. It’s not exactly a conclave of all-powerful Illuminati, but the group will choose a palette that will wield significant influence over all kinds of products—not to mention hotel lobbies, car interiors, and more.

 “We basically argue and scream and cry about color for five days,” says Jim Parker, a CMG member since 1993 and creative director for the Portland-based paper and packaging company Bonita Pioneer. “The palette is a guideline,” Parker adds. “You really have to interpret the colors for your industry.”

Cultural happenings, socioeconomics, and current events can all play a role. In spring 2001, for example, the success of the flamboyant film Moulin Rouge! unleashed a tide of over-the-top reds. Then 9/11 happened. That fall, the US contingent felt gray.

“Everyone just wanted to fade into the sidewalk,” remembers Patricia Call, a New York interior designer and CMG board member. “The Europeans said, get over yourselves. But we’d never had that on our soil, so it really affected our point of view.”

Likewise, the Great Recession muted recent palettes. But now frugality is getting old—hence the resurgence of hot pink. We asked Bonita’s Parker to predict what the Portland meeting will decree for 2011. In short, prepare to get happy.

Filed under
Show Comments