Color Maniacs Color Maniacs

Pigments in the Past

Past Color Trends & Movements

Death of Avocado
Author:  Pat Verdolt

Death of AvocadoBeing a color designer in the color industry for over 40 years, I’ve seen trends emerge and quickly die; however, avocado seemed to live on and on and on.  The crux of this color is that it was pervasive, appearing on absolutely everything.  We were deluged with it to the point no one could escape its insidious tentacles.  Worst of all, it was featured on products whose life spans were too long to be viable.  Appliances, carpet, tile, bathroom fixtures and other long life products sported this color.  Then...the trend died, but the product lived on (and continues to live) beyond its usefulness.  Consumers were unable to find coordinating colors to keep it current; they grew sick of the color being around and very "in your face", developing abhorrence for the hue.  As a colorist, I often refer to the color as the "A" word and my fellow colorful friends know what I speak of.

Death of AvocadoYounger generations born after this phenomenon do not understand the significance of this color. It has become an icon for the late 60's and early 70's.  I have found that by renaming the dreaded hue, I can work it into designs as it’s a suitable companion for curry golds, rich terra cottas and tobacco browns.  Variations of the color appear in Arts and Crafts designs and earth-toned combinations; the lightest shades could be classified as sages or darker versions as olives, but never with the avocado name pasted on it.

Death of AvocadoIn general, appliance manufacturers no longer fall into the trap of putting trend colors on long term items, although there may be trendy colors on high end appliances that the average consumer cannot afford; middle America wants safe colors that won't offend them in the future. Another exception to the rule is the trendy colors on laundry appliances, as they are placed in areas where most guests won’t wander, utility rooms not needing to coordinate and can use the color to brighten the otherwise beige/white, boring room. 

So, is Avocado finally dead?  Is this photo the last living specimen of an endangered trend?  Do you have classic avocado pieces that fit into your current setting; I would love to hear from you.


Color in History

Color has become such a staple in everyday life that most individuals are not aware that there’s a history there.  It all started with Isaac Newton, who started at the young age of 23 experimenting with colors and breaking down the components to discover where the colors came from.  He named them red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet, which are still used today.  Since then, there have been huge leaps in the discovery of color.  The color wheel was created, identifying primary, secondary, and tertiary colors.  In the 19th century, physicist James Clerk Maxwell discovered that using three basic colors (red, green, blue) can create a wide range of colors.

The development of color isn’t just limited to the colors themselves – color television is a phenomenon that is always reinventing itself even into present day.  The first successful color television system began broadcasting in the 1950s.  When Ford started mass producing cars, they painted them all black because the paint dried faster and made the assembly line move quicker.  For 13 years, all cars produced by Ford were in black until more colors were introduced to the line to boost dwindling sales.

Color has had an impact all over the world, in different countries and cultures. Certain civilizations viewed colors in certain ways, with suspicions and beliefs in their meanings and symbolizations.  The Chinese have gone through periods of color, believing in the five elements of nature (water, fire, wood, metal, and earth) and focused their fashions along the corresponding pigments of black, red, blue-green, white and yellow.  During periods of a reigning emperor, like Huang Di (the Yellow Emperor), certain colors were emphasized more than others.  Red symbolized good fortune and joy, black represented Heaven’s color, and white portrayed mourning; whereas in North America, black is the color of mourning and death and white stands for purity.  India also has a history of rich colors, with their fabrics and architecture vibrating with bright, expressive hues.  For them, weddings are especially colorful as red represents purity and often overshadows all other colors at this event.  Egyptians used to believe that color had mystical healing powers.

Paint is one of the biggest distributors of color, providing the opportunity for every one to add personality to their homes and surroundings.  During the Renaissance period, blue was favored by the general population as it was intense, yet warm.  It continued its popularity into the 18th century, while also welcoming a brilliant green.  In more recent history, light and bright colors, such as yellows, greens, and light blues, were common in most households, being used on walls, fixtures, and trims.  Color trends come and go as well in respects to household products.  It used to be that avocado green and harvest gold were prominent in the appliance industry. It has slowly moved towards neutrals or vibrant colors leading up to current trends.

Looking back into the history of color is important, to know where we started and what we’ve gone through.  Whether we repeat the trends of the past or continue to develop new ideas, color will continue to be a significant part of the future.

Color Memories

Unique Color Tools

Unique Color ToolsUnique Color ToolsFor years, individuals everywhere have used color chips to choose the hues they want for whatever project they may be working on.  Whether it is painting their walls, choosing the color of furniture, or staining a deck, there are tools to match the color of the item you want changed to a product being sold in store, saving heavy items from being lugged into stores.  Sometimes, these tools come in unique forms.

Bagstock is paint swatch samples that can either be featured with a single color or multiple colors (stripe card).  An interesting tool that was developed for a company in Australia is bagstock with scallops, which are dips in the side of the card.  This allows the customer to separate one color from the others to better match it. 

Unique Color ToolsMany different companies, other than paint stores, use color tools to assist their customers in finding what they want.  Take the Waverley color matching set as an example.  These chips are not used to match a paint color, but wall coverings.  The colors came in a binder, fandeck, or mini-fandeck, where you could find correlating colors and match them next to each other.  It’s not only companies with household products that are using these tools.  Designers like Eddie Bauer, Ralph Lauren, and Alexander Julian have all opened their own paint lines to enter the world of color.

Who knows who will come up with colors in the future?


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