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.

The Silence of the Future

Image result for galaxy buds
@9to5google

We’ve all seen the AirPods. Everywhere. The little white sticks that awkwardly poke out of people’s ears. My roommate has a pair – and she owns an Android. They’ve taken over the market in one fell swoop, and as you can maybe tell by my tone of voice, I’m slightly displeased about it.

I’ve loved Apple for years, but what irks me most about this trend, is that the design hasn’t really changed – if at all (I’ll admit I haven’t done a lot of research on them) – from their original headphones. It seems as if they chopped off the chords, packaged them in a fancy Tic Tac box, added another zero to the price tag, and called it a day. And everyone went freaking nuts.

I’ve tried them in person (thanks roomie), and I don’t hate them. But quite honestly, I’ll stick to my normal buds, or my big noise-canceling headphones. Which takes me to my topic of the day: what should headphones do when they’re not playing music?

Insofar, headphones have been meant for mainly one thing: music. As somewhat of a purist, I’d argue that maybe that’s all we should be looking for in these products. But wait…there’s more! I’ve seen an increase in the amount of headphones that now have specific purposes. My sister received a set of ear pods as a gift last year. Which, by the way, has there been an official ruling of what to call wireless headphones yet? “AirPods” are strictly Apple, “ear buds” have been around for years so it still connotes wires/cords, and just “pods” sounds strangely biological and invasive.

I’ll be calling them “ear pods” for the remainder of this post, even though I don’t enjoy that either. Regardless, these things she had received, were only meant to play different white noise sounds. I forget the brand, but the premise behind their product was to create a wireless headphone that would put you to sleep – blocking out your immediate surroundings – and gently wake you up. The app that came with it gave you noise options to choose from: waterfalls, crickets, brown noise, white noise, rain, wind, etc. And then it gave you alarm options.

I tried these out – mid airplane flight was probably not the best scenario – and found myself indifferent. Now, if I lived in an extremely busy city with sirens and barking dogs and yelling neighbors, maybe I could see myself wanting to block all of that and fall asleep with these plastic blobs in my ears. I’m still not convinced there’s enough of a reason, or genuine personal curiosity, for me to go out and buy a pair right now.

But, I will say, there is definitely a market for companies to improve upon the horrendous (merely personal opinion) white ear sticks. Take Galaxy for example:

Hopefully you watched the video, because this post is already dragging on, and I won’t do it justice. It’s an interesting idea – having a music-playing product become something that only creates silence. The visuals are great, the technology is cool, and maybe down the line, I’ll understand what the hype is, and pick a pair of blobs up for myself. Until then, I’ll stick to my corded headphones like a 2000s peasant.

Minimal vs Boring

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@nordic.design

Minimalism has become a fairly popular trend that has transformed all areas of life – clothing, beauty, home style, art, and design. I find that I gravitate towards a minimal personal style. Jeans and a tshirt, white Converse; a fairly neutral color palette; simple jewelry; clean graphic design; “effortless” bed-head hairstyles. And if you were to picture me after these brief descriptions, you’d most likely think I was a boring person. I often hear this argument that minimalism = boring. That somehow, less things/content means its lacking in substance and life.

It has taken me a while to figure out the right way to describe my minimalism. Because quite honestly, it varies greatly from person to person. It has somehow become people axing all the “needless” things in their life. I watched a video about a lady who only had 2 tshirts. I’m sorry, but there’s no way that’s feasible for the average person. Minimalism doesn’t mean stripping your life of everything that’s non-essential. I’m not trying to go out and buy anything and everything that is “trendy”, but I’m not insinuating that I live with one fork and knife.

To me, minimalism means curated. I choose to have very specific things in my life. We shouldn’t be mindlessly throwing everything out, just to say we only have a few things left. It defeats the purpose of what the minimalism movement is about.

Minimalism is not subtraction for the sake of subtraction. Minimalism is subtraction for the sake of focus.

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I subtracted the things that didn’t matter to me. And now, when I get something new, I make a conscious effort to deliberate over whether a) I need that thing, b) if I will actually use that thing more than once, and c) if I will truly enjoy having that thing in my life. I would rather have a few beautiful and curated books on a shelf, than an overwhelming boat-load of novels I’ll never be interested in reading. I would rather have a few well-worn tshirts, than a closet overflowing with nothing I want to wear. I would rather have a few close, interesting, and wonderful friends, than a bunch of sub-par acquaintances that make me feel popular.

I’m not saying I’m perfect. It’s taken me a long time to go through my life. And I haven’t even made a dent in most areas. But it pains me to think people argue minimalism means boring. If done well, minimalism means sifting through the things/experiences/people/content of your life, and specifically choosing what is most important and valuable to you. Engage. Organize. Analyze. Value. Curate.