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13 New Color Trends For 2012


The year 2011 is nearly at an end, with the holidays pressing in on us and the New Year just around the corner. For months the articles have been posted on blogs all over the web speaking about color trends for 2012 as well as speculating on some of the more wild possibilities. There are some interesting ideas out there, as no year has been this anticipated or shrouded in mystery since the 2000 Y2K scare.

But of all of these predictions, serious and insane, there are two good indicators for what is coming in color in 2012: These are the Pantone spring/summer 2012 predictions and Benjamin Moore‘s ColorPulse “Preservation” theme.



Here are 13 of those predictions so you can start gaining inspiration for your 2012 design choices.

Pantone Trends

First, we have Pantone. Predicting both colors that will be used in home design and those that can become big in the coming fashion year, Pantone has set the entire scheme on a set of nine palettes, each with its own theme. These themes are Nonchalance, Resilience, Subtleties, Transcending Time, Indigo Effects, The Comics, Back to the Fuchsia, Nouveau Neon and Reflections.

Each one has a unique set of colors that makes up a rather tame, mild look more common to the colder months, with a few deep shades thrown in to draw it all together. Let’s take a look at each one.


This palette is meant to convey the natural lack of anxiety and care that comes along with being nonchalant. Each shade is very gentle and brings to mind a relaxing room. The blue is very skylike, such as on a clear day where nothing matters.


The point of this palette is to show strength and long-lasting durability. It might remind you of certain foods – for example, mustard, olives, watermelon and chocolate. There is also something somewhat retro about the color scheme, and it reminds me of the fashion and design choices of the mid- to late ’60s.


Taking what are normally much bolder colors, Pantone finds the shades that are in between. The point is to take something familiar and tweak it to be more subtle. Results would vary depending on how you mix them, but there is a rich tone to the colors that is very pleasing to the eye.

Transcending Time

Colors have a way of bringing a time period to mind. These move past that kind of mentality and instead represent items that transcend time. Think of heirlooms and antiques that have been passed down through the generations. Elegant colors were used, like a wine red and a plum purple.

Indigo Effects

While the majority of these colors are a deep blue, they have been broken up using both intermediate and contrasting shades. You have a gray, for example, and a purple and maroon. Then, you have the more drastic light rose and beige that keep it from being too overwhelming. The effect is very relaxing, but somehow mysterious.

The Comics

Not all the palettes are meant to be seriously themed. For a more lighthearted, childlike flare, you can look at The Comics theme. Pantone put together a line of bright colors, most of them contrasting with a few middle colors to match with the more bold hues. These would be great for a child’s room or playroom.

Back to the Fuchsia

An amusing play on words, these are all very bold interpretations of the usually sedate fuchsia. Pantone has taken several shades and added in some purples and reds. There is one deep plum, alongside a green to break the pattern and give it more depth. The green itself is similar to avocado, keeping it in line with the slightly off colors in the rest of the palette.

Nouveau Neon

Very bright for a summer tone, this is one of the rare design themes to really explore the yellows and oranges that can be found on the lighter side of the spectrum. But Pantone mixes it with some berry pinks and a deep grape purple while keeping a sandy beige. It all brings to mind picnics and cocktails on the beach.


Probably the darkest of all the palettes, these take a number of the traditional colors and find a gentler, more moderate version. You have a deep blue, a lighter blue, a maroon, a light black, a fawn beige, an off white and a deep gray. They are very pleasant and remind me of a nautical theme.

Benjamin Moore’s Preservation

The Preservation color palette set is a little bit more interesting. Rather than being made up of a specific set of colors, it is more about the emotion that they invoke within us all – a desire to match the past of our lives and our ancestors with the modern touch of our current lives. There are four sections: Heritage, Process, Protection and Enlightenment.


This element is all about preserving the traditions and past of our world, no matter where we are from. In some cases, this will be as simple as upcyling old items or buying antiques that mean something to us as individuals. But they will also be about native patterns and tribal items or things meant to represent our own ancestors. That means a lot of browns, reds, greens, beige and sandy colors – anything that essentially appears earth tone and natural.


This is an element meant to represent the evolution of mankind in all its endeavors. That includes complicated concepts come to life for the betterment of the human race and the acceptance of all through the journey of life.

Modern neutral colors will be big, such as blues, whites and grays in various shades. Blueprints and maps are expected as decorations, with a resurgence of “academic” decor. Staccato designs will be seen more, to appeal as “pixels.”


In the past there have been many design trends dedicated toward spiritual protection. This coming year it will be more about physical protection and items that represent armor encasement. Wrought iron, cages and iconic lips as well as stainless steel will be popular.

For colors, blacks, gray and chrome are all natural, with pale pinks and dark purples as potential undertones or icy blues. Metals will remain popular, such as bronze, silver and gold.


Part of enlightenment in concept is looking beyond the now and into the bigger picture of the future. This element is all about that, celebrating rebirth and what is to come. Mystery, intrigue and what is to come should be reflected in the design. Faith – or lack thereof – can come through the undertones, surrounding the overall result of your choices. Futuristic metaphors and mirror images should be utilized.

Colors are airy, with white clouds and gray smoke, foggy textures and deep purples and blues. Golds and bright yellows can be mixed in to give some brightness to the palette. Silver makes a great border and accent.


These are only 13 possible predictions for the 2012 design year, though they come from two very reputable sources. In the end, what is important is how you put them into practice and what you can create. Let your imagination and vision guide you!