Designers and illustrators are experimenting more and more with colour, influenced by digital technology and hands-on techniques, the worlds of fashion and trend forecasting, and ideas borrowed from science, medicine and art. The ways you can explore and produce colour are constantly increasing – and the results are positively blooming.

Colour trends used to be easy to follow. As in the fashion industry, they were cohesive (everyone knew when neons were in and primaries were out), the trends lasted the lengths of seasons and were mapped out months in advance by a small coterie of forecasters, the high priestess being Lidewij Edelkoort of Trend Union (trendunion.com).

However, in recent years this familiar cycle has been broken: blogs and the Internet mean that trends – even in something as broad and essential as colour – seem to change almost weekly. So to spot the real trends underlying today’s colour use you need to step back a little.

Paul Farrington of Studio Tonne created an interactive ‘fish tank’: both the fish and tank change colour.

Seen through a wide-angle lens, it’s clear that bright and bold is the dominant trend, colour-wise, in the first half of 2010.
One of the key drivers for this current trends for brighter, bolder colours is demand: as consumers, we’re hungry for colour – we’re like magpies for it.

We now interact with colour in more ways – through computer screens, LEDs, projectors, signs and advertising wrapping our buildings and embedded in our cities. This new spectacle of colour is seductive, it’s saturating and it pervades our daily lives.

Shane RJ Walter, of film collective onedotzero (onedotzero.com), sees the influence of colour growing thanks to our love of new technology. “Technology goes through a rite of passage that starts out monochromatic and text-based, moves to colour, then colour images and motion, then a high density of colour and resolution. That’s the development and sales cycle of most of the tech we use in our communication and digital entertainment.”

Matt W Moore