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Colour Convo 1

by | May 10, 2021 | Blog Post | 0 comments

This month we are focusing on the importance of colour in everyday life, most specifically on global colour trends in interior design. It must be immediately noted that the topic of color in interior design would be difficult to fully encapsulate in one article. Therefore, what follows is the first of a three-part series unpacking the world of color.

Global Guru of colour: Leatrice (Lee) Eiseman is an Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute. This company has and continues to lead many fashion trends which send those of us in the industry, buzzing annually as they announce their PANTONE Colour of the year. Lee is an incredibly intuitive and knowledgeable woman who expresses her love and respect for colour in a way that makes it easy to be swept into the subconscious EMOTIVE POWERS that colors possess. I consider it a an honour and a privilege to have attended three of her lectures over the last 15 years at the annual COVERINGS Tile and Stone exhibition in America. My fondest memory was Lee’s second lecture in 2009, Orlando, Florida where she nonchalantly informed us all that she had been contacted by James Cameron (Oscar nominated and winning producer of movies such as Terminator, Titanic and Aliens) to assist him in choosing the colours to use in his next film. A film that many consider to be a more successful movie than TITANIC. She then advised the audience that she had been asked and had selected all the colours seen in the film, ‘AVATAR’. Most notably the iconic iridescent blue skin colour of the main characters.

we have big blue women, not little green (Martian) men.” Cameron famously told the media after the reveal

If you want to know more about the indomitable Leatrice Eiseman, I encourage you to either,

Last year, due to the pandemic, many of us were unable to travel to the Coverings exhibition. We were however, given the option to attend a virtual lecture by Leatrice in April last year. The lecture included some notes sent via email to all those who attended for which I am proud to say that I am still using a year down the line!

The notes opened with the following paragraph :

People often ask color forecasters,



The answer is that spotting future trends is much like detective work. Its not one big ‘AHA’ moment, but rather a string of clues and concepts that lead to the ultimate forecast.

Needless to say, because I have been involved in the South African building industry for over twenty years, I was intrigued to hear her thoughts on a question I had long asked myself. Without further delay, I opted to make contact with her directly as I needed to get her thoughts on the following question:

Why did the trending colours of the Northern Hemisphere differ so much from those in the Southern Hemisphere?

I would like to specifically point out at this point that whenever I was on a buying trip in the East, I would avoid all products that were selling well in America, Russia or in Scandinavian countries as they had a proven record of not selling well in our country, South Africa. I would show more of an interest in materials that were selling well in Europe or Australia. So, while not expecting an answer from Lee herself but rather just hoping that I would at least get a reply from her office, you can imagine my shock and excitement when I received a personal email from her,

“…I certainly can appreciate your feelings about cultural/location differences…The color forecast that I do for Pantone is based on a great deal of international travel and research from across the globe and what we do is to show, within the annually presented palette options, the leading influences from an international perspective…Each palette is based on a theme that includes some new concepts and ideas.

Most importantly, the annual forecast is meant to provide some inspiration and perspective…’’

In the 12 months since my email conversation with Lee and upon reflection, I am now able to understand that there are so many reasons for the differences in trends between the Northern and Southern Hemisphere – from complex cultural symbolism’s (such as the impact of colonialism on our buying choices in Southern Africa) to something as easy as understanding differing climate conditions on choices of colour. In hindsight, I do regret not asking a more detailed question to such an Industry Icon but I still appreciate her taking the time and making an effort to respond.

Since making the decision to qualify as an Interior Designer, I have spent a lot of time and effort on my quest to understand colours and their intimate and often combative relationships with each other, better. I am nowhere near where I would like to be but once I am able to fully comprehend and master the Pigment Colour Wheel, as many interior designers already have, I look forward to the wealth of knowledge and joy it will unlock for me personally from a creative standpoint.

I would like to end this short first edition of THE COLOUR CONVO by pointing out that, whether we accept it or not, we all have a favourite colour or colours. Colours that usually invoke fond memories or a colour that puts our minds at ease and calm us. Some of us love and regularly wear clothes that include colours from the same harmonious groups, colours that we feel symbolise who we are and that represent our personality.

Our second Colour Convo will focus on the influence of colours on our moods. I also intend concentrating more on interior spaces and artistic surfaces that can, and probably will convert your (sorry for the following cliché) HOUSE into a HOME.

Until next time,


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