ColourNext 2012: The Process

ColourNext is an innovative trend forecasting initiative for Indian interiors, developed by Asian Paints and conducted in collaboration with the Center for Knowledge Societies. The ColourNext process includes gaining an understanding of emerging societal trends and changes in consumer behavior, and thereafter predicting their impact on design and décor choices. The resultant output includes an in-depth analysis of four prominent societal trends, along with information about relevant social events, media and brand associations, moods, emotions, and an expertly curated colour palette related to each trend.

ColourNext 2012 marks a decade of this work, which has been widely influential in defining colour choices in interior decor over the course of its evolution. This time around, however, certain changes were made to the process in order to make it a more wide-ranging trend forecasting, where the focus was not solely on colour and visual trends, but on larger societal trends.

The process began with preliminary secondary research of online sources, where researchers collected both textual and visual data of prominent changes and news from different industries. Alongside this, researchers also conducted a ‘visual scan,’ a comprehensive record of various kinds of visual data prevalent in everyday contexts, from magazines, newspapers, high fashion and design to hoardings and billboards. They then began to assimilate a realistic picture of what these various changes in society, technology, media, design and culture could mean for visual design and aesthetics.

Seven strong social trends emerged from this phase of data collection, which were then presented to experts during in-depth interviewed in order to validate and refine them. Visual design trends were correlated to these seven societal and lifestyle trend stories, garnered from a visual bank of over 1000 images. 700 of these were selected to be presented as stimuli during ‘creative studio workshops,’ where the team invited experts from a range of different backgrounds to collaboratively predict visual and design trends for the coming year, of which eleven were considered pertinent for the coming year.

This was followed by focused interviews with experts in different industries such as media, space design, architecture and interior decor in order to ground the trends in local happenings, whilst keep global influences in mind. Collaborative creative workshops were held to validate these, followed by a discussion on these trends by a panel consisting of seasoned sociologists and media experts in order to filter these down to the strongest trends.

Thereafter, workshops were held in Ahmedabad, Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai, engaging 32 experts and 60 students in various creative settings. These day-long intensive creative studio workshops created a vast pool of fresh visual themes, that were filtered down and fine-tuned to make up the final themes of ColourNext 2012. This happened in eight collaborative workshops where the Asian Paints and CKS teams worked together with colour consultants to cluster and filter the entire set of themes.

The information from all these sessions was collated and presented at Style Leader Workshops, where leaders and design thinkers from various industries like architecture, photography, art-direction, product design, apparel design, media and design education came together to decide upon the best possible thematic visual directions for the year 2012. Once the themes were voted upon during these workshops, the project teams from Asian Paints and CKS were able to finally crystallize all the information into the four major themes being revealed later today, at the ColourNext 2012 launch.

As a final step, the team collaborated with colour consultants to translate the final themes into colour and material palettes. These palettes sought to capture a critical part of the visual expression of every theme as well as the meanings, emotions and moods that themes are meant to express. The launch today will present installations on each of these themes, which will also be the subject of discussion for ColourNext Dialogues, to be held the following day, the 24th of January (see agenda).

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: