Clariant’s ColorForward 2018 Forecast reflects a dark mood among consumer

Clariant’s ColorForward 2018 Forecast reflects a dark mood among consumer

Clariant, a world leader in specialty chemicals announces the release of ColorForward® 2018, the 12th edition of the annual colour forecasting guide for the plastics industry

As it does every year, the international ColorForward team took a deep dive this past September into the state of consumer attitudes and likely colour preferences for the coming year.

All four of the global social trends identified reflected an over-arching feeling of sadness, fear and distrust of the conventional world as-it-is. Behind that, however, is what might be termed a “silver lining.” A sense of resolve… of determination to endure and a cautious optimism that people can make a difference and things will get better over time. This melancholy mood is evident in the fact that all the colour are toned down and a little bit grey but, at the same time, warm, organic and hopeful.

The ColorForward® concept was created to help brand manager and designer anticipate – in advance — what colour will connect with consumer on a deep, emotional level. Today, after twelve successful year, this unique design tool is rapidly gaining credibility.

“We will present the 2018 forecast at Heimtextil in Frankfurt in January and at Stockholm Design Week in February, and we have been invited to speak at the prestigious Fuse London design event in October,” says Judith van Vliet, ColorWorks Designer and a leader of the ColorForward team. “It is very unusual for a company like Clariant to be consulted on trends by the design community and I think is very real reflection of the respect they have for our work.”

The ColorForward advantage arises from its long-term global view of social trends. Other forecasts, van Vliet explains, are more focused on reacting to short-term trends. Clariant, on the other hand, tries to identify the deep-seated emotions that influence how consumer respond to colour and, by extension, to a manufacturer’s product. She concludes: “I think that’s what makes ColorForward different from other forecasts and why we are getting so much attention.”

ColorForward 2018 has been completely repackaged this year. The presentation materials are simpler and cleaner. The forecast developer composed a single image for each of the four trend themes. Then, discrete facets of each image are used to represent the different elements of each trend.

The trend colour are offered in a printed booklet and with moulded plastic plaques that allow participants not only to see the colour but also to touch them, feel them and hold them in different lighting or against different backgrounds.


The ColorForward 2018 trends and colour include:CLAPRIANT1191a


The Newmorrow trend theme reflects a sort of yin-yang mood among consumer. On the one hand, they believe the “system” is rotten; unable to change economic and social conditions that have become intolerable. On the other hand, there is also a conviction that change is still possible… not by government but from grass-roots efforts of individuals and small groups. This change, it is understood, will come only slowly and so there is a need for “cathedral thinking.” Just as it took the work of generations to build the huge medieval churches of Europe, changing and improving a corrupt system requires unselfish commitment, a long-term vision and faith that the final objective can be achieved in the end.

It is not surprising then, that the Newmorrow colour palette includes a brownish green called Primordial Soup. It prompts references to sewage and death and some have referred to it as “the ugliest colour in the world,” but it also reminds us of the verdant, rich biological goop that spawned life as we know it.


Dissatisfaction with conventional ways of living also stands behind the LongitudeLatitudeAttitude trend theme. It acknowledges that a growing number of human beings are choosing to have no fixed address. These are the “new nomads.” Many are artists, musicians or creative entrepreneur, but what they really have in common is the desire for a minimalist, wandering lifestyle, limiting their possessions to what they can conveniently carry. These New World citizens cherish the flexibility of a lifestyle that embraces their passion for life on the move and that immerse them in a fusion of ethnicities and interests.

The colour of LongitudeLatitudeAttitude are Bohemian. They range from a purplish fuchsia, called Nomadness, a warm, almost-orange yellow named Kaleido tribe, and grey blue called Cirrus aviaticus after the contrails of jet planes against the otherwise cloudless sky.

Through the mirror

Somewhere along the way, many consumer began to experience unpleasant feelings of emptiness related to their mainstream lifestyles. There is a sense that they have lost touch with their inner selves or, perhaps, never really considered that inner self as they felt their way through their lives. The trend theme named Through the Mirror attempts to capture a sense of ennui — of being adrift in a modern world while, at the same time, knowing that a spiritual reawakening is possible.

The yoga practice of त्राटक inspires the pearl orange colour in the Through the Mirror palette. This Sanskrit phrase is pronounced ‘trataka’ and means to gaze steadily at a fixed spot in order to focus the mind inward, blanking out visual perception and withdrawing from the external world.


Out from the gloom that seems to lie behind the other trends described above, there comes the story about the validation of a group of people long stereotyped as a bunch of quirky, overly intellectual misfits – the “nerds.” The Nerdylicious trend theme sees these brainiacs finding acceptance as innovator in a complex world, with continuous curiosity and a passion for exploring new ideas and complex puzzles.

Although the colour of Nerdylicious are soft and subdued like most in the other trend groups, they are nevertheless the brightest and most optimistic of any in the 2018 palette. For instance, Lightning Boot is a transparent almost-orange yellow that is reminiscent of LED lights on a control panel, while Alberting out! is a slightly dirty optical white — a tribute to the ultimate nerd, Albert Einstein. It reminds one of lab coats gone dingy after back-to-back 18-hour work days.

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