I always find it so interesting when the coatings manufacturers release their color forecasts. Do they really know what color themes consumers will gravitate toward, or are they setting the trends by issuing their reports? Whatever the answer, a lot of time and research goes into these projections.

I spent some time with Jane Harrington, Manager, Color Styling, at PPG Industries, during the company’s annual Automotive Color Trend Show. She spends much of her year surfing the net, attending events and shows, and clipping photos out of newspapers, magazines and brochures in order to analyze the latest trends in culture, fashion, movies, media, electronics and many consumer products. She then comes up with a theme that best describes the automotive color palette that her team develops. This year’s theme is titled InSite and draws on the influences of insights from PPG’s other color- and coatings-oriented businesses, such as architectural, industrial, protective and marine, and aerospace coatings.

PPG presented automotive designers new colors such as Denim, a classic true blue with a high-effect sparkle; Cognac, a rich, coppery, warm brown with an iridescent highlight; Silky Silver, a liquid silver look with a slight bronze cast; Moonshine Blue, a pale silvery blue like the reflection of the moon on a lake; and Wicked, a sinister green color inspired by couture fashion.

I have also reviewed several other coatings manufacturers’ 2011 color trend forecasts and found that all of them are inspired by the global mood following the economic crisis. Each is worded in its own unique way, but the general theme is the same.

According to Canadian paint brand CIL Paints, the forecast for 2011 is sunny. The hottest color is a light, citrus yellow, symbolizing a sense of fun, freedom and positive energy. “The new yellow is associated with warmth and sunshine,” said Martin Tustin-Fuchs, Marketing Manager for CIL Paints. “It’s a very optimistic, cheerful and refreshing color, sending a clear message that, as a society, we’re done with tough times and look forward to brighter days ahead.”

Sico, another Canadian paint brand, feels that consumers are looking for the simple pleasures in life and want to surround themselves with heart-warming colors. From timeless denim blues and earthy clay and wood tones, to leafy greens, strawberry reds, sunny yellows and airy pastels, its 2011-2012 paint palette is dominated by warm, homey and comforting colours – a reflection of the public mood, said Dominique Pépin, Marketing Manager for Sico and a Chairholder of the international color forecaster Color Marketing Group.

Sherwin-Williams celebrates individualism – a trend toward not being trendy at all – through its Colormix™ 2011 collection. “We’ve seen reactions to the economy move from panic to acceptance, if not appreciation, because people are finding they have the opportunity to be true to themselves,” said Jackie Jordan, Director of Color Marketing for Sherwin-Williams.

Akzo Nobel’s color theme for 2011 is Appreciation, as this is a time of acceptance and appreciation of things we so often take for granted. The Color of the Year is a light, airy, citrus yellow that symbolizes a freer spirit, sense of fun and positive energy.

There are many other forecasts out there, but it is clear from these that the global mood is changing from dreary to hopeful, with a new sense of appreciation for what we have. Here’s hoping that 2011 will indeed reflect that mood in more than just the colors we choose!