Pantone: Surprising Color Combinations Intrigue Consumers

Critical to catching consumer eyes in the coming years will be combining colors in new and unexpected ways, said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute in an assessment for the International Housewares Association.

After the cancellation of this year’s The Inspired Home Show, due to the coronavirus, IHA and Eiseman worked together to release a video presentation with what would have been her keynote at the event. The video, complete with visual depictions, is accessible at

Eiseman said innovation today is “about answering a need for something edgier and, in some cases, irreverent. That’s not to discard the fact that some consumers have a certain comfort level with some colors. You have to honor that by combining those traditional color favorites with other unexpected colors or in unexpected ways.”

For her presentation, Eiseman looked to several different sectors for color trends and inspiration including fashion, art, cosmetics, electronics, automobiles, movies and television.

She predicted that the film industry will become even more significant in the short-term as people seek out movie entertainment. “Avatar 2,” due out next year, takes place underwater and features sleek stylings and vivid blues.

“Some people may ask: ‘What does the movie Avatar have to do with the pillows I’m choosing for my living room?’” Eiseman asked, and answered that the color proliferation is part of the trickle-down effect: What people see in movies, fashion, art and other relevant sectors causes people to be more open to a color, or even to look for it in the marketplace.

A few current significant themes or design influences as Eiseman explained them:

  • Food & Beverage. “Food is a natural tie-in for housewares and interiors because it’s so integral to our sense of well-being and to our very existence,” Eiseman said. Anything with yellow-based color releases the “feel-good” chemical serotonin in our bodies, as in comfort foods from around the world such as macaroni and cheese in the U.S., dim sum in China and purees in Africa.
  • Wellness. A trend that keeps getting bigger each year will certainly flourish in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Soft, familiar hues can convey a sense of serenity and comfort, as can Pantone’s 2020 Color of the Year, Classic Blue, which instills “calm, confidence and connection.”
  • Sustainability. It’s not a new trend, but one that has reached the mainstream. Many consumers are now demanding products and practices that are environmentally friendly and are choosing home environments and color schemes that reflect this.

In her presentation, Eiseman also revealed the nine 2021 Pantone View Home + Interiors palettes:

  • Folkloric. The palette is Nordic in feel, but “it’s really about a new and energized form of folk art,” Eiseman said. It features deeply saturated authentic colors that look hand formulated including indigos and fern greens.
  • Terracotta. The first palette that’s named after one color, Terracotta features a warm, earthy color that appeals to people in just about any culture. Terracotta is the star, but it appears alongside a sliding scale of warm earthy tones with a few very unexpected colors, such as lilac sachet.
  • Composed. “This is the palette that is always necessary for those consumers who are comfortable with neutrals,” said Eiseman. Here, soft pinks and blues “lighten the load of gray” to combine with hues like glacier gray and granite gray.
  • Vivify. The yang to the yin of Composed, Vivify is “an eclectic grouping” of playful and cheerful colors such as easter egg blue and meadowlark. Black and white are included as well to create a dichotomy of sorts.
  • Fleur. Flowers are always an influence on color, but this palette is “not just about a sweet bouquet,” Eiseman said. It’s “a bit sexier” with its inclusion of some deeper wine or merlot hues and some green for balance.
  • Quixotic. This vibrant palette features some closely matched colors, but it also reaches across the color wheel for unique contrasts. Just a few examples: jade lime versus peppery cayenne and papaya punch versus tranquil blue sky.
  • Polychrome. The palette is “very much about patterning,” Eiseman said. Architectural details from many countries inspired the use of sophisticated colors like a Dijon-enriched spicy mustard and mocha mousse in patterns.
  • Synergy. Blues and blue-greens may always be favored by some, so this palette uses them to create “peaceful, pleasing connections of color,” Eiseman said. Grayed-down versions of blue and blue-green contrast seamlessly with other colors such as grayed-down lilac or mauve.
  • Galaxies. Metallics get their day in this palette, which is inspired by “the ongoing fascination humans have with the galaxies that lie beyond,” said Eiseman. What is unique in Galaxies is the combination of metallics with earthier tones that help ground them.