The Colors of Wellness

The annual Sherwin-Williams Colormix Forecast is a tool and resource for architects and designers seeking to create spaces that promote good health and wellbeing.

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Throughout the year, Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams, and her team of color experts and trend forecasters pay visits to design fairs, trade shows, fashion shows, design seminars, and lectures around the world to get a clear picture of what’s happening in the design industry, and what’s next for color. When it comes time to create Colormix, the annual Sherwin-Williams trend forecast, they have seen it all, and are able to create palettes that are contemporary, but whose colors won’t be out of date in only a few years.

The color palettes included in the 2020 Colormix Forecast are all about wellness. Above, hues from “Mantra” create a serene nook.  Courtesy Sherwin-Williams

The theme of the 2020 Colormix Forecast can be described in a single term: “Wellness.” To create it, Wadden and her team distilled the industry-wide trend of designing for the combination of social, spiritual, physical, and emotional factors that make up “Wellness” into five unique palettes. “Everybody’s talking about wellbeing and how that’s going to impact us in the next decade, so we looked at it through the lens of color and balance. How can color play into the wellness space? Each of the five palettes focus on one aspect of wellness we hope resonates with designers and, ultimately, their clients,” she says.

From the vibrant “Play”, which features charming pink and gold tones, to the more subdued “Mantra”, a range of soft neutrals, each palette is calibrated to make a space feel wholesome, inviting and relaxing. Though they are not planned with specific applications in mind, the deep, rich shades of “Alive” would resonate well in a corporate environment, where the softness of “Mantra” might add a relaxing touch to a spa or healthcare space.

Vibrant colors from “Play” create a sense of wholesome fun. Courtesy Sherwin-Williams

The color palettes are meant to be an inspiration, not a one-size-fits-all solution. “We don’t want to tell designers what to do,” says Wadden, “They know color really well, but sometimes they don’t have the time to investigate all the hues.” She works to give architects and designers the rationale for particular color choices—helping them determine certain hues can drive their desired outcomes.

For example, in spaces with unique requirements, such as facilities for acute care and senior living, Sherwin-Williams does offer specifically tailored color palettes that are designed to reduce stress and aid in wayfinding. But any space, from a corporate office, to a master bathroom, can use color to elicit a feeling of calm and wellbeing in its inhabitants.

Earth tones mix with shades of coral and sand in “Heart”. Courtesy Sherwin-Williams

In addition to the palettes, Colormix is accompanied by a host of other educational resources to guide design decisions. “Designers want color to enhance the story they are telling with their design concept,” says Donna D’Alterio. As designer marketing manager at Sherwin-Williams, she is responsible for making sure architects and designers are aware of what color can do for their projects, and plays a role in the company’s free Colormix Forecast Continuing Education Unit. “It’s all about educating and inspiring professionals on what is coming in the year ahead from a color inspiration perspective,” she says. “Color can have a major impact on the emotional and physiological experience of a client. It can calm, excite, inspire, and heal.”

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