ColourNext Dialogues in Mumbai: An Overview

The first ever edition of the ColourNext Dialogues was held at a restored mill in Byculla, Mumbai on the 24th of January. An intimate gathering of designers, architects, academics, sociologists, cultural critics, design students and writers, Dialogues was a fascinating half-day discussion on the four social trends identified in ColourNext 2012.

The day began with a short welcome address by Dr. Aditya Dev Sood, founder and CEO of the Center for Knowledge Societies, who organized the event in collaboration with Asian Paints. After introducing the event as a space to dialogue about all things colour, Dr. Sood invited participants to introduce themselves and say a few words about their professional or personal interest in colour. The answers given reflected the participants’ wide ranging backgrounds and interests, but also indicated the myriad ways in which colour could be understood, used and appreciated. Whilst some of the responses were about practical applications of colour, others spoke of the psychological and sociological responses to colour, that colour can be considered the most direct medium of communication, and that cultural connotations of different colours can vary considerably.

Sneha Raman, Innovation Manager at CKS, followed this with a brief presentation on the process of identifying these trends. After this, participants were introduced to the themes through artistic portrayals, in installations wherein the theme could be understood visually and spatially as well as textually. After spending a few minutes observing and interacting with the installation, they spoke about what it signified, whether it seemed relevant, and discussed the appropriateness of the associated colour palettes.

Overall, all the participants were in agreement about the relevance and importance of the trends identified, and considered each one to be pertinent in the present time. The installations were perceived to be both beautifully executed and highly appropriate, and were also varied enough that they collectively seem to portray several different aspects of our individuals selves as well as our society as whole. Whilst Awakening talks about our inherent spirituality and ‘collective consciousness, Headrush is more about an individualistic, adventurous and risk-taking drive. Small Joys is about lightness, playfulness and taking out moments to revel in the smaller pleasures of life, while Crystal is about introspection, elegance and an appreciation of subtlety and nuance.

After this, participants talked about the value of ColourNext, how it could be taken forward and improved, and how it could be used in both personal and professional contexts. One of the points made was that ColourNext is unique – it is the only forum in India where people can come together to converse solely about colour and its many dimensions. It is the only attempt made to understand the evolution of the colour story in India – where it comes from and the direction it takes. It is an effort to move beyond the purely visual appreciation of colour, and to understand the underlying societal, technological, psychological, cognitive and cultural factors that impact our colour choices.

Participants also spoke about the participatory nature of both the ColourNext process as well as of the conclave as being at the crux of its success. This kind of open forum, where individuals from a variety of different backgrounds can gather to discuss colour and societal trends, yields deeper insights than any other trend forecasting effort. If order to take ColourNext forward, this discussion could be taken online, participants suggested, allowing even greater participation and constantly evolving understandings of these themes.

ColourNext Dialogues: Colour, Social Trends and More

Asian Paints, in partnership with the Center for Knowledge Societies, is pleased and excited to announce ColourNext Dialogues 2012, a first of its kind conclave on the social meaning of colour trends and visual directions in Indian society. The conclave will be held at a quaint restored mill in Byculla, Mumbai on January 24th, 2012.

ColourNext is a colour trend forecasting initiative for Indian interiors, conducted by Asian Paints in collaboration with CKS. The object of ColourNext is to study and truly understand evolving aesthetic moods in India based on in-depth research into visual and societal trends, expert interviews, and focus group discussions. This year, 2012, marks ten years of this initiative.

ColourNext 2012 was concluded recently, and yielded four prominent themes. ColourNext Dialogues was conceived as a means to celebrate the completion of a decade of ColourNext as well as to present these themes to the larger public. The conclave will bring together leading designers, colour theorists, social scientists, architects, interior designers and other relevant experts to discuss the social, psychological, emotive associations and design consequences of these emerging colour directions.

Speakers at ColourNext Dialogues include

Shimul Javeri Kadri, Principal Architect, SJK Architects
M.P. Ranjan, Design Thinker and Independent Academic
Aparna Piramal Raje, Columnist, LiveMint
Nien Sao, Colour Specialist and HoD Fashion Dept. Pearl Academy

The four themes from ColourNext 2012 have been translated into visual and spatial installations, which will be displayed at the venue. Participants will be encouraged to absorb and be inspired by the themes and embedded contextual stories, and thereafter participate in a conversation that will explore such questions as:

. Why are we seeing an emergence of these themes and where are they being manifested?
. What socio-cultural trends are being evoked by this theme?
. What does it tell us about the moods, desires, and appetites of the people?
. How might practitioners interpret these aesthetic directions in their work?

This will be an intimate gathering, with open discussions and little distinction between speakers and participants, in order to encourage the greatest possible interactivity. The entire event will be documented audio-visually and information about each of the themes will be presented on the Design Public blog after the event.

Participation at ColourNext Dialogues is by invitation only. However, if you are interested in attending, please contact Vedika Khanna at

Forecasting Visual Trends in the Colour Next Project

We’ve been working on some really interesting projects here at CKS, and thought it would be interesting to share some information about them. One of our biggest projects at present is the well-known Colour Next project by Asian Paints, which is an annual visual trends forecasting project that we’ve been involved in for about five years now.

The aim of the project is to identify and analyze changes in society and culture and to translate them into visual themes for Indian interiors. This involves researching existing and emerging trends, identifying visual provocations in media and advertising, and conducting in-depth interviews with colour and design experts as well as sociologists, journalists and other experts on social movements.

In order to conduct this research effectively, our team first identified more than a thousand images from various magazines and other popular visual sources.These images were pared down to an image bank of 200 images for use at interviews with trend specialists, and another 700 images were chosen for use in hands-on, theme building workshops. These theme-building workshops were held in different locations across the country, in collaboration with experts from creative fields and also with students at design schools, in order to generate visual themes using all our information on upcoming trends and the image bank.

This year, the team also studied various social trends by researching a variety of media sources, interviewing sociologists, journalists, lifestyle editors, and managing directors of advertising and mass media organizations. The goal was to understand what aspects of societal existence and experience are changing, and how. This information was then aggregated to make societal trend boards, consisting of eleven different trends.

CKS then held an innovation workshop on Friday last week, where the team collaborated with a number of sociologists, designers, colour theorists and other experts in order to validate and further investigate the trends that were identified. The idea behind this workshop was both to ensure that the trends were valid and meaningful, as well as to explore each of the trends in a deeper, richer way, and to get a more granular input from the panel of experts.

While we cannot reveal the trends that were identified, an obvious example to anyone who has been following the news over the past few months is the emergence of social media sites like twitter and facebook as major transformers of our interaction with the world. No section of the middle class can be said to be outside of the influence of social networking, and as a result this has a major impact on society in general. This then necessitated a study of gender dynamics (related to these emerging trends) and other physical manifestations of how people interact differently with spaces and things, as impacted by social media.

This workshop basically marks the mid-point of the Colour Next project. We are now poised at the end of the research phase and the beginning of the design phase, where we will have to create colour palette propositions that are derived from our research, but extend beyond it.

To put this perspective, here is an example from last year’s project on one of the themes we identified: