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How To Spot A Design Trend.

Updated: Jul 23, 2020

What is the difference between a fad and a trend?

Who decides what our decorating trends will be?

And why should I care?

These are a few questions you may have asked yourself that I will answer in today's Blog!

Fads v.s. Trends - What Is The Difference?

Firstly, lets find out exactly what the difference is between a Fad and a Trend.


Wikipedia defines a Fad as objects or behaviors that achieve short-lived popularity but fade away. Fads are often seen as sudden, quick-spreading, and short-lived. They might last for just weeks or months. Does decorating with roosters ring a bell? They are often driven by our human emotional need to purchase. This emotional need can come from the hype that surrounds the product. It's not that at the time we thought mirror balls were going to go out of style; we really did believe that they would always be a party room staple!

Trends defines a Trend as the general movement over time of a statistically detectable change. Trends have an explainable rises, and they will rise more slowly than a Fad. Trends reflect deep-rooted human desires and are driven by functional needs. It is thought that generally a decorating trend will last approximately seven years. Just enough time for us to tire of that wall colour!

According to innovative architect Nils Vesk there are the five phases of a trend:

  1. Dawning – an emerging trend

  2. Developing – a trend that is gaining momentum and is being developed by various parties

  3. Developed – a trend that is fully fledged and has hit mainstream interest

  4. Decaying – a trend that has done it’s time and is becoming ‘old’ in the mind of users or customers

  5. Discarded – a trend that is no longer in demand and has been superseded by something more exciting, superior, different or by adding new value

Above: Spring 2019 Fashion Week Color Palette

Psssst! Want to know a little secret about how to forecast the colours you will be seeing in your home in the near future?

Look to the fashion runways of Europe. It is not uncommon for the colours you see being used there in designer clothing, to soon show up in your home decor a year or so afterwards.

Here you see a forecast of Spring 2019 Fashion Week Color Palette. Anything look familiar? ....

Above: Pantone Color Trend Spring/Summer 2021

Who Decides What Our Decorating Trends Will Be?

As each new year approaches new design trends begin to emerge on the scene. Each of these trends come about often as a result of various social and economic happenings that are going on in our world. Predicting the next major design trend and what will be driving it is far from easy and requires a great deal of detailed research and observation.

There are all sorts of decorating trends to predict ranging from lighting trends, kitchen and bath design trends to colour trends. Let's zero in on one of those trends: colour.

Colour trends are a good example to focus on as a trend since colour is a topic that influences all of the other sub-categories of decorating trends.

Did you know that as many as seven years prior to you purchasing that new kitchen, vehicle, or sofa, an elite group of colour marketing specialists have decided what trends you will be able to purchase? These professionals are Colour Forecasters and are part designer, part sociologist, and part predictor. They discover information on the fashion runway, at auto manufacturers, and through the housewares industry. They investigate showrooms, trade shows and magazines for emerging trends. Forecasters also consider what is happening culturally and how it impacts our national mood. They translate all of this information into a prediction of which colors we will be wearing in our homes.

The Color Marketing Group® is a group of such professionals and has operated since 1962. It is a not-for-profit international association of colour design professionals. These members represent a broad spectrum of designers, marketers, color scientists, consultants, educators, and artists. They come together at local and international events. At these events they interpret, create, forecast, and select colours with the goal of enhancing manufactured goods. Through that collaboration they are better able to identify the direction of colour and design trends and then interpret that information across various industries.

Once a professional trend forecaster has assessed the trend according to their defined criteria, they can use a polar chart to map out the impact that a certain trend may have. This is crucial for businesses when deciding whether a trend is worth pursuing!

Why Should I Care About Decorating Trends?

Companies use forecasting wisdom for the smarter design of their products. With regards to colour forecasting, they use it in packaging, signage, product design, and more. My Blog The Psychology Of Colour, explains how colour impacts us emotionally, physiologically, and psychologically so the use of colour will help a company to talk to their customers, all without saying a word. Colour forecasting is a powerful and effective strategy. It gives people the power to communicate a mood or feeling that’s relevant to how consumers feel at a point in time.

Color forecasting significantly influences the development of a product. Instead of feeling sideswiped by unexpected changes in consumer taste, color forecasting lets companies plan ahead of fads. It allows companies to have more time to purposely create a better product, which means happier customers and more revenue!

Because color forecasting is done several years in advance, it lets companies offer their products to the right people, at the right time, with the best possible messaging. Manufacturers are able to meet buyers’ expectations with smarter design and more appealing features. Colour forecasting also assists companies in offering the direction needed when designing complementary products and services.

Color forecasting benefits not only manufacturing companies but us as consumers as well. Navy Blue is a big forecast colour so chances are you’re going to look for products in that colour. In the very near future you will be able to buy a computer, shoes, socks, coffee mugs, pens, and even cars in that colour. A designers dream!

You can now be confident in knowing that the purchase of your next decorating trend item will not be a flash in the pan, but a purchase behind which significant research and development has taken place to find it's way into your home. I hope you have enjoyed this weeks glimpse into how trends are developed and why they are so significant.

In a world full of beauty….

Gail K Allen

Interior Design Consultant

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