Sw 2021 Colormix Continuum Hero|Unknown

Colors that Resonate in a Badly Damaged World

We asked two forecasting experts to weigh in on the colors, tones, and textures that feel right for 2021.

Sw 2021 Colormix Continuum Hero
Courtesy Keith Recker


Keith Recker, cofounder, HAND/EYE Fund

Our current moment of political polarization and social isolation feels like a good time to move on to healthy psycho-spiritual, intellectual, and social integration. It’s time to unify the perceived opposites of natural and synthetic, cultural and commercial, sacred and irreverent, traditional and innovative. It’s perhaps even time to put inspiration and satisfaction first in our work, ahead of sales.

As I tried to think forward to 2021 and 2022, I looked back a couple of millennia for inspiration to the Aristotelian idea of eudaemonia—“the good composed of all goods.” As you’d expect of an ancient Greek ideal, eudaemonia is not a consumerist proposition, but rather a reminder of the satisfaction of constructively engaging with what surrounds us. It’s a call to bring our best and most expansive selves to our daily life. In modern psychology, eudaemonia is used as a way to focus on the positive, bliss-making aspects of the human psyche. It even reaches into genetics with the idea that some of us may be predisposed toward a more eudaemonic outlook. There may be epigenetic factors at play as well. Can we “switch on” elements favorable to achieving happiness for ourselves and others?

In gathering the colors and materials of eudaemonia, I acquired nothing new. Everything is vintage or deadstock, part of my 20 years of swatch collecting, or borrowed. While I have been an impassioned advocate of artists and artisans for 30 years, not everything is or can be made by hand. I have kept a representation of the god Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, for many years. He seemed to insist on being part of this concept, appearing and reappearing in the images I have been making. May we all be inspired to remove all obstacles to eudaemonia, to moving forward.

Courtesy Sherwin-Williams


Sue Wadden, director of color marketing, Sherwin-Williams

The Sherwin-Williams 2021 Colormix Forecast is a collection of 40 hues across four palettes that celebrates the Rhythm of Color—the balance between fast and slow, quiet and expressive, and virtual and physical. Developing these palettes takes me and my team a year of research into design trends and cultural moods. The final mix consists of bright and bold blues, muddy greens, muted reds, bright pinks, and warm whites, which we have assembled into four collections.

Rooted in nature’s ability to calm, nurture, and heal, Sanctuary features mellow earth tones and neutral shades. Encounter is defined by heirloom objects, the stories behind them, and the richness and texture of time, such as the muted brass of a tarnished trumpet. Continuum brings things up to date, telling the story of smart living and how technology ties in to our lives. It reflects our desire to move seamlessly through the whites, charcoals, and pops of color in everyday environments. Influenced by creative expression, the upbeat modern hues in Tapestry are meant to inspire joy and later, together, tell a story through texture and pattern. The final forecast examines where we’ve been to help create that central hub that is so vital to our everyday living.

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