No colour choice is made up on a ‘whim’. From handbags to cars and sofas, tastes and trends are decided years in advance, based on predictions of colour forecasters such as Jane Boddy – an expert who was one of the first to predict the rise of the famous ‘millennial pink' 11 years ago.
Jane, who trained as a fashion designer, has worked for some of the biggest and most influential trend forecasters in the world including WGSN and StyleSight. Now an independent forecaster, she is also European creative contributor for global colour experts, the Pantone Institute. Ahead of her appearance at the Superyacht Design Festival 2023, Jane talks to BOAT about what a colour forecaster does and why colour is so important in design today.
Tell us how you got into this role
As a fashion designer I'd always really enjoyed creating colour palettes for my collections so I eventually decided to move into that world. I became Head of Forecast at StyleSight, a big US trend forecaster and then later, WGSN, a global agency based in London. I found I had a good eye for colour and started specialising in it - not just colour itself, but in shades and tones and their different nuances, and also how culture plays a part in cementing these trends. I now have my own design agency, Janeboddy.com.
Who do you forecast for and what does your work entail?
My clients are really varied! I work for everyone, from the fashion and interiors worlds to the automotive industry. Companies often have to work years in advance, so they come to me for fresh new predictions to stay relevant and on-trend. Each of my palette recommendations comes with extensive research to explain why I think it is the right choice for their brand - they are putting large budgets behind these decisions and need to know if a product will sell and be a success.
I also contribute to the annual Pantone Colour Planner - the go-to colour bible for the design industry which large companies use for inspiration. It forecasts the trends that will be big two years from now and I work with different teams in producing the guide. The interesting thing is looking back and seeing my predictions trickling down on the street now - it shows there is some proper methodology behind our work.
How do you spot colour trends?
Many people think forecasters just choose colours on a whim, but our work is based on extensive social listening. Trends are inspired by what people are feeling and experiencing around them - the purples, greens and lilacs of video games, for example, or the turquoise blue of social media - all these have a subconscious effect on our tastes and preferences. The global recession will definitely make us yearn for more optimistic, hopeful colours.
A trend can also spark from the unlikeliest places - from TikTok to tech - so it’s important to have a handle on everything. Plus, I travel a lot looking at youth trends and style on the street and make sure to visit as many fashion weeks and graduate shows as I can across the world.
While fashion has slowed down in recent years and many colours ‘roll over’ from season to season, preferences can still change. Take green, for example. A few years ago, it wasn’t popular at all. But now, thanks to the climate emergency, green has become one of the world’s most important colours and is not likely to fall out of favour any time soon. Having said that, there will always be niche colours (for example some of the acid neons we’ve been seeing recently) that will be a flash–in–the–pan craze one year and gone the next.
Colours change in meaning too. I was one of the first to predict the popularity of the certain faded pink dubbed ‘millennial pink’ back in 2011 which was a world away from the hyper-girly bubblegum pinks of the time. It evolved into a ‘non-neutral neutral', shed its gendered connotations, was adopted by both sexes in their 20s and 30s and became the colour of choice for thousands of brands and living rooms across the world. Its enduring appeal has opened up a world of soft, more grown-up pastels popular today.
Do you have any rules for interior designers to follow?
My rules are that you shouldn’t follow any! As long as you surround yourself with colours that you absolutely love, you won’t go wrong. But do think of combinations - you rarely choose just one colour for a room so it’s important to consider colour relationships and how one reacts to another in a scheme.
Yacht interiors come with a whole list of extra considerations and limitations for designers, most notably space and light. Can using the right colour scheme help?
Definitely! It is so linked with emotion that it is a hugely effective tool in bringing atmosphere and mood to a room - as much, if not more, than furniture and soft furnishings. This needs to be considered alongside space and light - what good is a bright spacious stateroom painted white if it is not a room you feel you want to spend time in?
In my talk I will suggest tricks to expand your colour confidence in yacht design and tell you the key factors you should be taking into consideration when putting a scheme together.
I will also be revealing the colours I think will be big trends for 2023 and beyond. And if you don’t want to take my word for it, I will be showing you how and where to look to find your own inspiration.