As the European fair season is coming to an end, it is time to have a look at which colours are waiting for us as we move into 2023.

By Judith van Vliet

Whether you visited Milan Design Week, Maison & Objet, Cersaie or Dutch Design Week, it was clear that colour is back on the agenda. Yet the colourways we are seeing are not the obvious ‘in-your-face’ reds, blues and yellows sided by the usual blacks and whites. What we are starting to see is the entry of secondary colours that still elevate your energy without leaving you feel overpowered.

As we are putting ourselves out there again after two devastating years of pandemic, an unpredictable world is presenting itself. We are carefully optimistic yet cautious. Topics like climate change, economic recession and the rise of populist political movements create an uncertainty also at consumer level. Yet there is a shift happening as we feel a new energy coming through, a swift of emergence as we move into 2023. Longevity is a major topic among many designers even if nobody seems to want to fall back on the habitual neutrals that we have grown tired of. And that is good news. A new page is written as more vigour is brought onto the stage.

Photo: Cassina

Where neutrals in the previous years were your old bunch of greys, blacks and whites, we now see a quest for a broader push of what is considered natural. Just like after the Spanish flu, white is popular for the upcoming season yet not the sterile white as you may expect but subtle, coloured whites that add a new dynamic to product and interior. Slightly greyish, beige-toned whites that recall stones, pebbles and naturally weathered woods coming from genuine surroundings that bring in warmth and comfort to our homes. Tactility is key as different textures create interesting layers of complexity to the applied colour. From the cooler side of the colour spectrum, we see nuanced neutrals moving into mineral areas of blue-green undertones adding a playful and serene effect as they are applied to as well gloss as matte surfaces.

Photo: Moroso

Yet who said neutral had to be light in colour? For next year we see an increased use of darker wood shades often combined with warm red and orange tones. Interestingly, one of the biggest growing areas of colour is that of the terracotta shades. From the spicy orange and reds to darker burnt shades, moving into the browns. Shades that impart for dynamic statements while at the same time providing longevity. Terracotta was big during the pandemic as it was sided by these warming browns as we searched for stability in uncertain times. As these unknown times seem to continue, we pursue our need for warmer, darker shades as the brown tints remain popular. Fascinating is the continuation of bronze and brass metallics now being mixed with the nuanced neutrals and natural woods.

Photo: Natuzzi

Coloured neutrals bring lightness, airiness and dynamism but also, they settle us down as they are calming and are easy on the eye. An important factor today as stress levels are very high and consumers are overwhelmed by all of the changes in society happening in a very short time. Spaces that bring tranquility, peace and silence will stand side by side with those that energise and stimulate our senses as we are hungry for new experiences and sensations.

Even if the new neutrals take up an interesting area in design for the next season, uplifting pops of colour are moving in strong. Zesty, yellowish oranges not only bring along happiness but also the much-needed energy. Eggnog yellow is making an interesting intro by adding an element of lightness and hope, whereas accents of absinth and malachite green add the right amount of tolerated craziness.

Photo: Paola Lenti

And finally, an important note to the purples and lilacs as they are growing in importance. We may see the softer bluish lilacs as well as the darker redder purples applied to different types of materials varying from velvet to suede and even outdoor textiles. The colour purple stands for technology yet most importantly it stands for being different, for breaking the rules, a great promise and welcoming characteristic.

The upcoming season is one of minimalism with the right amount of opulence. Spaces that are restful yet energising, allowing for consumers to choose according to their own specific needs and emotions. More than ever is colour convincing us of its significance.

Photo: Fornasetti

Judith van Vliet is the founder of the The Color Authority, which helps people to unleash colour in their lives and businesses. Judith works with a global colour network of like-minded experts that understand the power of colour.

Header photo: Natuzzi