My Summer colour palettes
Colour palettes are, for me, full of contradictions.
I can find them the easiest things to pull together but can then usually guarantee that those ones are then the trickiest to work with. I can get myself into cycles where I’m repetitively drawn to the same base colours and then have to tweak and tweak until I’m happy to have found a new balance and spirit to the overall palette so I don’t get bored of the repetition, and nor do clients. And then of course there’s the perennial debate as to whether to rigidly stick to trend-led palettes, ignore them entirely or to do a bit of both and interpret trends in your own way, which I get the impression is the approach of many freelance designers.
There are practical elements that can restrict colour palettes, which are worth being aware of if you know where your design is going to end up. For instance screen printing has limited colours in a way digital printing may not, and different products lend themselves to more colours better than others.
Personally my biggest issue is narrowing down a palette and sticking to it. I love colour, and as a general rule the more the better, but in practice too many colours (or too few) can ruin a pattern and distract from its detail. And whilst I do find trend reports fascinating, and certainly influential in my own personal choices for fashion and decor, in my own work I don’t tend to stick to them unless I take it on as a deliberate challenge to myself. Which, to be honest, is something I should do more of as in those situations I tend to push myself and learn the most.
Seasons are another big influence on my own colour palettes, which isn’t unusual given they surround us, but when designing seasons in advance it can have a surreal effect on my choices too. Personally I think this is one of the main reasons I refer back to my own photographs so much for colour inspiration as looking at photographs takes me back to those moments and its then those memories and emotions I try to draw on.
Which leads me on to some of my favoured colours for this summer. These are mini palettes I’ve brought together drawing on the trend info that I’ve read, what I’ve seen around me and from my photos both from last summer and this spring, especially the hot few weeks we’ve had. I’ve not pulled these together with any specific design or product in mind, and I’ve kept them small as a jumping off point as I’m hoping that over the next few months I can incorporate them within some designs which I’m sure will inspire additional colours.
What has been noticeable to me has been how I’ve been drawn to more earthy tones - terracottas, peaches and dusky shades - which is then tempered with variations on lemon yellows and minty greens. Certainly since getting this together I’ve been far more aware of earth tones and mint green in fashion trends which demonstrates how unconsciously I’m influenced by fashion. But they are colours that are making a mark in homewares too demonstrating the common understanding that where fashion leads interiors follow.
As and when I do use them I’ll make sure I link across to them for anyone reading this far in the future when this summer seems a distant memory. And if you use them as a jumping off point for your own work with colour, be it pattern, a painting or a even a room scheme do let me know - I’d love to see them.