Color Trends: Real or Fake News?

Have you ever heard of the color “First Lady Pink”? I personally had never known about it until a few days ago. I was taking a workshop with a Color and Materials Designer from Kohler during class on Wednesday. She was discussing the basic progressions of color trends in kitchen/bathroom plumbing throughout the past few decades.

More often than not, people tend to think trend forecasting – an integral part of CMF design – doesn’t mean a whole lot. Or that it’s totally fake. Well, I’m here to tell you I’ve found the best example yet.

Mamie Eisenhower, during her time as the First Lady, had renovated her bathroom in the White House all pink. She had done an interview with the news after it was completed, sharing her one-hue palette. Needless to say, all of the women in the States heard this interview, and within the next few years, bathrooms everywhere – and I mean everywhere – turned a Pepto-Bismol shade of pink.

Now, I’ve been in several of these period-correct bathrooms that have stood the test of time – their shade of bubblegum still bright as ever. You see, I had personally noticed this shade in bathrooms, but chalked it up to being the fashion at the time. I never thought more of it. Until this Kohler designer pointed it out. She said through the company’s research, they found that fixtures, tiling, etc. in the very specific shade of blush during the 1950s skyrocketed directly after this interview of Mrs. Eisenhower (just look at the advertisement I found above!).

The shade became officially known as First Lady Pink after that. I think it’s absolutely fascinating to finally make this connection (even if I learned it from someone else). It’s the connecting of dots like this that show you how trends in pop-cuture effect a vast majority of products and people. Forecasting in the art and design world is an extremely difficult thing to do. Now whenever the next person asks me to describe part of my work, I’ll be able to give a concrete example to help visualize something that quite often sounds like nonsense.

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