Future friendly colour

by Darren
Future friendly colour

Future friendly colours and paints are at the order of the day in 2014, add some textures and luxurious coatings to top it off.


Paint is without a doubt one of the most accessible and affordable materials that can be specified to incorporate colour within the design space.

Current 2014 trends in interior and exterior colour choices have been inspired by the themes of ecology and environmental awareness.

This is according to Helen Gurura, an architectural colour specialist at Cedar Paint, who coins “future-friendly” as the buzz word for what is trending on the colour scene for 2014. She not only refers to complying with lead-free legislation in the formulation of product ranges, but also to how it is manifesting in the colour forecasts for this year.

The eco ethos

Tinted paints get their colour from either organic or inorganic additive pigments. In organic pigments, halogenated organic compounds and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are prevalent, whilst inorganic pigments contain heavy metals known to have harmful effects on both man and the environment. This means that both organic and inorganic pigment manufacturers face the challenge to produce green-compliant products that best offer an ecologically-friendly footprint.

White, light and pale pastel colours generally have less VOCs compared to brighter, darker and deeper colour palettes. In addition, the latter ranges often require more coats for optimum coverage, implying that more VOCs are released into the atmosphere as a consequence.

Light reflectance

According to Lisa Taylor from NCS Colour Centre South Africa, regulations governing the use of colour externally are increasing worldwide and tend to focus on the light reflection, for reasons of heat absorption of surfaces and the affect this has on construction and bonding materials.

“Lightness is not a quality of a unique colour, but can be determined by comparing it to a grey scale or through instrumental measurement,” she says.

The luminous reflectance factor Yl, also referred to as light reflectance value (LRV), is
a physical measure of how much incident light is reflected from a colour material. It is given as a percentage of how much a perfectly reflecting diffusor (white) would reflect under similar conditions. White has the value Yl = 100 and black the value Yl = 0. A grey colour, which is visually perceived to lie midway between white and black, has a value of Yl = 26%.

On the NCS system, South Africa’s national colour standard, lightness is indicated with the visual lightness value “v” on a scale between zero and one. Black has “v” = 0,0 and white has “v” = 1,0 on a scale with uniform visual steps. A grey colour visually in the middle has
“v” = 0,5.

Yellow would have the highest lightness value, while blue by contrast would have the lowest lightness value.

“Looking at the regulations, in most cases the luminous reflectance factor (Yl) must not fall below 20 or 25, ‘v’ = 0,4 or 0,5,” Taylor states. “In many countries there are also institutions that determine how public places should be planned in order to obtain a good environment for partially sighted people.”

Lightness and visual experience

Furthermore, Taylor cites that the difference in lightness between two colours is probably the most important factor contributing to the visual experience of a pattern or a form.

“If the lightness difference is very small, one tends to read
a form as a whole, while with a large lightness contrast between two colours it is observed as two separate entities,” she says.

“Additionally, from a distance, the contrast of lightness between colours on buildings is almost the only apprehended contrast. The difference in hue barely stands out. At close range, the contrast of lightness is a very important element when, for example, distinguishing different parts of a façade.”

Soft colour tones

Cedar Paint’s earth-inspired 2014 colour collection features a collection of timeless earthy classics, not only because of their sheer aesthetic appeal, but also to fit in with the growing global trend of eco-consciousness.

Dave Nemeth a leading trend forecaster and media representative for the South African Institute of Interior Design Professions (IID), agrees that neutrals and natural colours will remain the order of the day for interiors and large spaces of colour, with brighter colours being used as accents.

“This year I think we’ll see a lot of what I refer to as the fondant colour palette, which includes all the softer tones of colours such as mauve, baby blue, light mint green and light peach mixed with soft greys. These shades and hues are also great to use on larger surfaces such as walls and ceilings.”

On the bolder side

Brighter colours that are currently on trend are teals, reds and an assortment of greens. “We are starting to see the use of bolder colour being used on the exterior of commercial properties such as corporate offices,” he points out.

Colour system professionals, Pantone, has a colour of the year which they believe will be the most popular and commercially viable colour used, from fashion through to products. This year it is a shade of purple called radiant orchard, which Nemeth believes will have commercial success locally.

Textured colours and coatings

Already in motion, there is a radical shift from plain painted surfaces to the incorporation of texture, which enhances the visual depth and perceptual impact of colours on walls within the architectural space.

Textured coatings create a natural, heavy-bodied, earthy feel, whilst adding a sand-like finish to the walls.

“Textured paint has the unique ability to absorb and reflect light, thereby incorporating elements of subliminal colour shifts to the surface,” says Gurura. “Depending on the finish used, it can produce unusual visual colour effects and can help to bring some architectural character back to structures and focal points within the design space.”

Specialised coatings

Popular for accentuating feature walls and architectural structures of interest such as pillars and columns, high-build trowel coatings provide a uniquely distinct granular finish, which is sought after for being more refined than ordinary textured paints.

The use of metallic and pearlescent coatings on interior walls is also proving to be trendy. Both provide a lustrous finish with impressive colour changes based on the angle from which the painted surface is viewed.

“Owing to their nature, metallic coatings add dimension and create added depth to wall surfaces. Their colour effects exude a sense of luxury, sophistication and opulence,” says Gurura.

“Likewise, pearlescent coatings remain a chic colour trend and are attracting a growing fellowship owing to their iridescent colour quality that adds shimmer and sparkle to interior wall surfaces.”

Functional colour design gains popularity

“This approach not only takes into consideration the ergonomic role of colour, but also the human psycho-physiological reaction to colour, including the psychological, neuropsychological, visual ergonomic and psychosomatic effects of hues within the built environment,” she says.

Functional design is typically suited in the design of corporate work spaces, healthcare facilities, educational settings, industrial and manufacturing plants, retail environments, food outlets and residential settings.

“Designers should not assume that current colour trends and personal design traits are sufficient justification for the creation of suitable architectonic environments,” she adds. “Colour can supersede mere decorative impressions and the design of functionally appropriate environments will result in the creation of architectural spaces that benefit the occupants.

“This smart colour application approach ensures that colour is specified to support the function of the building and the tasks being carried within that architectural space, and not being specified merely for colour’s sake,” Gurura concludes.

Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to Helen Gurura from Cedar Paint, Dave Nemeth from IDD and Lisa Taylor from NCS for the information given to write this article.

2014 colour highlights:
• Eco-friendly paints.
• Earthy classics.
• Bold accents.
• Textured coatings.
• Metallic and pearlescent coatings.
• Functional colour design.

You may also like