The 2010 Color Palette

According to Clariant Masterbatches’ ColorForward 2010 color forecast, as international tensions and economic troubles make life ever more complicated and uncertain, consumers around the world seek simplicity, harmony and tranquility. They attempt to break stereotypes, form new connections and create their own sustainable environment. They yearn for authenticity, functionality and personal luxury.

“In general, the colors for 2010 are soft and understated,” said Cristina Carrara, designer at Clariant Masterbatches’ Clariant ColorWorks Europe division. “Only the organic colors from the 2009 palette become deeper and more complex in 2010, with beige and brown colors coming into focus. The bright primary colors that were popular during the past few years are disappearing. Yellow will remain bright, but it is trending a bit greener, while blues are lighter and fresher. The reds are moving more toward the pink and also deeper, with coral red becoming popular. Purple, which made its appearance in 2008, is still present, but now it has a new soul, trending toward violet and lilac.”

Pink/orange coral and turquoise are considered semiprecious stones and coral, in particular, is under increasingly ecological pressure as pollution and global warming limit the growth of reefs. “Their connection to nature makes these colors attractive alternatives to green for customers who want to follow an ecology theme,” said Carrara.

Colors Reflect Lifestyles

After determining which cultural and lifestyle trends will have true global relevance, the Clariant color specialists who put together ColorForward 2010 identify colors that convey the same ideas and emotions. For 2010, the team identified four sociological themes that will significantly impact consumer color choices:

Reinventing Happiness:

Consumers are responding to the precarious nature of life by reevaluating their lives to see what truly gives them pleasure and satisfaction. This may lead them to create a peaceful home environment or to seek activities that provide escape and excitement.

Tech It Easy:

Society has never been more open to technology’s ability to serve its needs and simplify modern living. Designers are able to cross established boundaries—embracing new materials and new textures—and creating products outside their usual spheres.

Embracing Gaia:

The ancient Greeks believed in Gaia, goddess of Earth. This ColorForward theme acknowledges how modern material and production technologies allow creative people unprecedented freedom to express themselves through the use of shapes, forms, functions, colors and visual effects drawn from Mother Nature. Colors in this group also feature natural pigments derived from plants.

Age Shock:

Stereotypes are breaking down, and the boundaries between age groups are less distinct. Older baby boomers continue to enjoy a hip, active lifestyle, while affluent young people look for ways to demonstrate their style and sophistication—equating to energy and attitude across the generations.


Ampacet, too, creates an annual forecast—relying on socioeconomic research into the global influences likely to shape future color preferences. The company examines the predicted evolution of colors in a 12–18 month period to create a palette of 16 global colors, supported by four regional palettes 2010 color themes.

It has identified and categorized the following:

Conscious Consumption:

The era of mindless acquisition has ended, redefining consumers purchasing patterns as well as the methods used by marketers to gain attention. The trend of Conscious Consumption has morphed a concept of what is and what isn’t chic.

The range of colors in this palette gives new definition to the “classics,” although tempered a bit through softened undertones—much like global mind-sets.

Engineered Living:

The ways in which we communicate have evolved and become ubiquitous. Resonating the anxiety surrounding intellectual and physical exploration, this palette is expressed in a full range of brights.

A Collective Correction:

Conspicuous consumption led to an erosion of ethics and a crumbling global economy. Its far-reaching impact is one of significant societal reassessment—pragmatism is the new reality. The palette for Collective Correction is overridden by a carefully muted outing of rich neutrals with polarity provided through the grounding value of one purple.


Moving toward more meaningful consumption in their everyday lives, consumers are now evaluating the impact of their actions on the environment at large. There’s a fusion of the internal ego with the external eco, providing a common ground for beauty, thoughtful process, design and spending. The mood is mirrored by the muted and softened palette found in this category.

Thinking of Colors Globally


“[ColorForward 2010] is a global forecast,” said Maurizio Torchio, head of Clariant ColorWorks Europe. “So our team looks for commonalities—ideas and hues that fit any part of the world, regardless of regional circumstances.”

ColorForward 2010 identifies 20 colors—five colors for each of the four societal and lifestyle detailed trends.

The color palette for Reinventing Happiness, for instance, features a warm, dark chocolate brown and a rich, creamy raspberry red. It also includes a soft grayish blue, a pearly champagne color along with a light turquoise blue that is reminiscent of shallow Caribbean waters. People will respond to these colors, the Clariant team feels, because they express harmony and balance, combining a feeling of luxury with the warmth and safety of a cocoon.

The color choices for Age Shock, on the other hand, are bright and fresh, with a hip and trendy appeal. This palette includes an energetic fuchsia as well as a softer red-shaded lilac. A pink orange expresses youthful vitality, while blue connects to the jeans culture. A saturated yellow is both bright and energetic and, at the same time, soft and childlike.

The forecast colors, according to Clariant Masterbatches, should be viewed as points of inspiration and exploration, open to interpretation and adaptation to meet the requirements of specific products and markets. Mixing and matching the colors from all four trends can further expand design concepts.