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Modern Renaissance: Dynamic Color Scenario Seen in Glance Ahead


By Jill M. Speegle

How would you describe a modern renaissance?

Do the terms “extreme salvage,” “restrained luxury,” and “reimagined circus,” come to mind?

Well, they do for the paint and coatings maker Dunn-Edwards Corp. (Los Angeles). The company says we’re embarking on a “modern renaissance” in terms of what’s on the horizon for colors, textures, and designs in 2013.

Sara McLean, color expert and blogger for the company’s specs+spaces website, notes a “brighter and happier” shift in the color palette for 2013.

She says the so-called “modern renaissance” is a brighter movement brought on by a “period of pessimism and nostalgia for the mid-20th century.” She says new advances in scientific study, inventions, innovations in medicine, art and politics, and massive changes to the American landscape are all helping to fuel the trends.

The company recently issued its color trend report Simply Renaissance 2013, detailing the four key trends it expects to permeate design in the coming months: Simply Re-invented, Simply Re-newal, Simply Re-imagined, and Simply Re-vival.

In addition to the paint colors that represent the trends, the report also offers further insights regarding the culture and social climate drivers.

Below are the company’s descriptions of the four trends, highlighting the palettes and textures expected to figure into the 2013 marketplace.


 All photos courtesy of Dunn-Edwards

 (Left to right) Simply Re-invented, Simply Re-newal, Simply Re-imagined and Simply Re-vival.

Simply Re-invented is inspired by the 19th century industrial age and emerges as somewhat more utilitarian and mechanically inclined design. Designers are seeing this revolution as part of the reduce-reuse-recycle movement, and will be using metals that age gracefully, through rust and corrosion. Copper, charred and burnt finishes, and crystals and semi-precious stones will figure prominently.


Terms like “archeological chic,” “extreme salvage” and “wild west adobe chic” are given as derivatives of this trend. 

“It’s as if showing flaws is a good thing,” McLean says. “It’s embracing imperfections as symbols of individuality and personality while moving forward creatively, pursuing new designs with relish.”


This color palette combines industrial metallic finishes with lacquered brights—cool, iron grays, salvage metal rusted colors and industrial red and gold. 

Simply Re-newal reflects a world of blissful innocence not yet affected by global strife, and focuses on a truthful and honest lifestyle.


“It’s our desire to reinvent and redefine ourselves, coupled with a restrained luxury and just a touch of glamour,” McLean says. “We’ll see this look in contemplative and calm, rural and romantic design—taking a hint of nature in low country Southern living.”

This color palette mixes whitened maple, apple and moss green with the misted, impressionistic pastel levels of peach, shell and lemon. Grays and tinted neutrals integrate neatly within the palette, though almost ghostly in appearance, and threads of color appear in fabrics, wall coverings and carpeting.


Designs will incorporate thatched roofs, home spas, plank siding and driftwood, rooftop nests (i.e. urban rooftop gardens) and plenty of mirrors to reflect light and color. 

Simply Re-imagined evokes images of far-off realities that give us a desire to run away. The wild escape is an answer to our nomadic imagination. Think Bohemian, multicultural and retro technology, McLean says.

“We’ll see a great return of textiles, rich brocades, soft edges of ikat, plaiting, damask, jacquards, mixing classic skills and new media,” she said.

“Mismatching items such as jewelry, clothing and furniture bring an order to the chaos around us, with no thought given to the mix. This will be a robust color palette, with saturated mid-tones conveying a sunny and optimistic attitude.”

McLean adds that this trend reimagines the circus atmosphere, highlighting   “brights of orange, green, yellow and turquoise, layered over the deeper, mysterious nighttime colors of teal and gray.”

Simply Re-vival is a rebirth of mid-century modernism simmering in the Southwest, inspired by the resort lifestyle with a thrill of nostalgia and memories of travels and places.


Bold in color and brash in execution, this trend also takes inspiration from the Bauhaus movement, California mid-century design and the 1980s Memphis design movements, reinterpreting each in a haphazard and playful fashion.


“We’ll see communities giving life to tired buildings and thus attracting a new crowd of hipsters. High-class kitsch accessories and art will be popular, and traditional Native American designs will be reinterpreted in new dimensions and color ways. The color palette uses desert landscape as inspiration beyond sand and sage, including pink, red and pale yellow,” she said.

More information: Simply 2013 trends report.


Jill M. Speegle

Jill Speegle is the Editor of Durability + Design News. She earned her B.A. in journalism and English as well as her J.D. from the University of Arkansas. In Sketches, Jill shares her thoughts on a number of topics that may be of interest to the D+D community, including architecture, interior design, green building, historic restoration, and whatever else catches her radar.



Tagged categories: Architecture; Color; Design; Green building; Interior design; Restoration; Architects; Coatings manufacturers; Color + Design; Color selection; Color trends; Dunn-Edwards; Trends

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