Color Ahead of Our Time

A First Look at Some of the Color Forecasts on Pratt & Lambert’s Radar for 2018 and Beyond

As color passionates, color viewers, and color forecasters, we never stop looking to see just what the latest color trends will be so that we can assimilate them into our plans and projects. And of course, Pratt & Lambert has its finger on the pulse of what’s going on now—and well into the future. As a matter of fact, the Pratt & Lambert color marketing and design team just returned from one of its best-loved events of the year, the Color Marketing Group’s influential International Summit.

The world’s only international, multi-industry, not-for-profit group of color experts, the CMG provides designers, architects, and fashion lovers the opportunity to meet and predict trending hues.

Design in Color breaks down the CMG color trends for 2017 and 2018. Image courtesy of Sunbrella, featuring the Sunbrella® Canopy. Sunbrella® is a registered trademark of Glen Raven, Inc.

Annually, more than 200 color design professionals from around the globe take part in creating these directional forecasts. Industry leaders—representing paint, textiles, flooring, wall coverings, trim and finishes, cabinetry, window treatments, consumer goods, fashion, and electronics—come together to anticipate key color themes. Color predictions are made by attendees and shaped by the social, economic, environmental, and political influences of the time.

“The value in CMG’s forecasted palettes for us is that they offer a directional guide in the chroma of the hue being looked at,” explained Rachel Skafidas, color marketing and design expert for Pratt & Lambert. “For example, taking a look at greens for this year, one could look at what was forecasted with CMG and say, ‘This is a saturated hue with a yellow base.’ While that exact color may not work in every facet, you will see folks looking at their selections and choosing a green that has a more yellow base and [that] perhaps [is] more saturated than they would originally have chosen. The CMG palettes offer great checks and balances for our forecast, as we take a look to see if we are following the direction of their colors.”

Color Marketing Group

This past November, style and design enthusiasts met in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for the Color Marketing Group’s International Summit, where the 2018+ World Color Forecast™ was officially announced. The forecast includes palettes specific to North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia Pacific. We were thrilled to get Pratt & Lambert’s insider viewpoint on all the latest hues and the details about the highly anticipated summit.

North American Color Forecast

The CMG is predicting a powerful purple-violet story for 2018 and beyond for North America. This really had an impact on the forecasted palette for the region, which for 2018+ centers on a key color, dubbed Evolve (illustrated here by Pratt & Lambert’s Columbine 31-22) by the CMG, that incorporates a move toward purple as a hardworking neutral that is both highly usable and sellable.

For Pratt & Lambert color experts, purple is a trend they’ve had their eye on and have been expecting for some time now.

Columbine 31-22

“We have been seeing a purple story that has been trying to emerge for a bit now,” Skafidas told us. “While we have not finished our forecast for 2018 at the moment, we do see that purple will have a place in the palette. And we agree with the shades being more clean than muted.”


Another trend found in the palette was cooler hues.

“I would say the forecast is cooling, with a reintroduction of aqua and teal,” explained CMG vice president of color forecasting and Formica Corporation design manager Gerri Chmiel. “These colors are calming and soothing, yet clean and clear. Neutrals are also tinted with new life, making them a solid foundation for the palette.”

Susan Hayes Hoover, CMG president, added, “It’s a definite shift toward the cooler side, with the 2018+ forecast shifting to the neutral story, from the warmer tans of 2017+ to the cooler taupes for 2018+. The greens also shift cooler and deeper, and purple reemerges in the forecast for the first time since 2015.”

Pratt & Lambert hues reflective of key colors CMG expects to see in-market in 2018.

Hoarfrost 28-3

Heron 27-18

Deep Jungle 21-17

Latin American Color Forecast

For Central and South America, the CMG frequently predicts colors that are warmer, very cultural, and tradition-oriented. While 2018+ palettes didn’t incorporate any saturated yellows or intense blues, there were plenty of yellow greens, aquas, and teals effectively representing the lively nature of this region. And as always, there was one remarkable red, with this year’s being more of an orange-pink red than a pure red.

Latin America

2018 CMG Latin American color directions, shown here in Pratt & Lambert hues.

Scarlet O’hara 5-16

Legendary Blue 22-9

Citronette 17-12

The region’s key color, however, was a bluish green called Re-Value (similar to Pratt & Lambert’s Manor Green 20-16). This blue hue has a deeper meaning for the region and where it’s headed. CMG forecasters say it’s symbolic of the need to find balance, an equality, between men and women.

Manor Green 20-16

It’s a color Pratt & Lambert has observed—and celebrated—before. “While it incorporates a blue undertone, this color is similar to Pratt’s 2017 Color of the Year, Leafy Bower,” Carolyn Ames Noble, ASID, Pratt & Lambert’s color marketing and design manager, said. “This color is a symbol of rebirth and it is rooted to the traditions of the past. It also represents our renewed interest in discovering the scientific secrets of the rainforest in climate, environmental, and potential medicinal needs.”


European Color Forecast

Forecasted colors for Europe were purer and clearer than the colors from North America. And red, as usual, made a decisive appearance.

“Some traditions also apply to color choices,” Judith van Vliet, CMG member and ColorWorks Europe designer, said. “For instance, there is always a shade of red, driven by traditions, food, and crafts. Pink is featured in every palette, but it has shifted from a Hello Kitty shade of pink to a more positive and sophisticated hue for 2017+ and 2018+.”

Pratt & Lambert hues similar to international palette directions CMG experts forecast for 2018.

Rhum Fizz 7-4

Monet Moonrise 7-12

Azalea 5-12

Another hue, Vapor (similar to Pratt & Lambert’s Duckling 24-10), took center stage in the European palette, as it was named the key color for the region.

Duckling 24-10

“This one is all about the need to breathe, the need for space to express oneself and recharge—to escape from our exhausting daily routine,” van Vliet said. “This color also encourages us to enjoy the beauty of quietness. Nature inspires us with calm, soft, and natural blue shades. In design, there is a tendency toward rawness and honesty. The metallic finish of the color is a reflection of our surroundings and the need for inner peace.”

Green Teal

That metallic sheen is something the Pratt & Lambert experts have been seeing and predicting as well for Europe and the United States. “The metallic sheen that was talked about offers another level of beauty,” Skafidas said. “I see it becoming a part of North American palettes within 2018 and beyond.”

Asia Pacific Color Forecast

Lastly, forecasters took a look at what’s next for Asia, predicting a substantial influence from the trending eco-friendly lifestyle. For Asia Pacific, the key color is Enjoy Life. This food-focused, creamy yellow (directionally similar to Pratt & Lambert’s Gladsome 11-4) has its roots in the intrinsic love for and value of food seen throughout the Asia Pacific region.

“The underlying theme at both the Bangkok ChromaZone and the Shanghai conference was a need for food safety, healthy eating, and more locally grown produce,” said Jane Stockel, CMG member, principal of Hong Kong–based Jane Stockel Designs, and editorial correspondent for The Trend Curve. “It’s all about less wasted food. Too many regional food scares in recent times have highlighted the need for sustainable and responsible production practices.”


Gladsome 11-4

For the experts at Pratt & Lambert, the color represents a greater story of the human connection with food, especially in terms of healthful consumption and a reduction in food waste. Both are common, connective themes in the United States as well.

“An estimated 25 to 40 percent of food in American households goes to waste every year, [so] this issue affects all of us as global citizens,” Pratt & Lambert’s Noble said.

Noble was also drawn to other food-related colors in the Asian forecasts. “Varying shades of green conjure images of rich produce, herbal tea, ginkgo, and poppy red,” she said.

Future Forecast

Just how will these and other hues materialize in Pratt & Lambert’s own 2018 forecast? We can’t wait to find out, as its paint-focused palettes definitely help us keep our current projects current.

"The majority of design projects—commercial or residential—take several months or even years to program, design, and complete,” Noble said. “By utilizing information from a trend forecast, a designer can plan ahead to ensure the latest finishes and colors are specified.”

Need to discover what’s happening now? Be sure to read our reports on Pratt & Lambert’s 2017 Color Trends and Color of the Year. How are you assimilating tomorrow’s trends into today’s projects? Let us know in the comments. We’d love to see and maybe showcase your design projects!