Are you aware that for more than ninety years, industry has relied upon one primary source to predict the color you will want your house painted, your rug, your clothing, your stationary, your linens, your appliances and even your new car to be next season? As a result, industry is in-the-know which colors we will long to have long before we know. Prior to the birth of The Color Association of America (CAUS), in 1915, the textile industry depended upon hat makers for seasonal color guidance. Noooo, these milliners possessed no crystal color balls; however, almost as good as magic, all of their supplies were imported from France. All the milliners did was check the latest new hats and catalogs! It was at the local millinery shoppe that color conscious Victorian ladies simply made an oh-so-casual inquiry about colors while ordering their next custom bit of frippery - well before decorating their front parlors. The corner hat maker forecast was consistently on mark allowing manufacturers to co-ordinate so that none were out of style nor behind the color trend - until World War I - when all supply of goods and information from France ceased. The reliable color well sadly dried up.
This void of information left industry in a bind that could prove to be disastrous. As a result, textile manufacturers were forced to form their own committee - putting their collective heads together - to try decide what the color preferences of Americans would be each year. A color card system was developed and is still used today. Major manufacturers in every genre purchase these priceless color cards each season, certain that if they stay within these guidelines, their product colors will please their consumer base. Their very success may be literally at stake because statistics have revealed that 45% of customers won't buy if they dislike the color. Losing 45% of your customer base to competitors over poor color offerings is enough to bring shudders from the largest and smallest manufacturers.
Since color is a supreme profit deity, it seems fitting a color czar should reign from the color throne. For each genre, up to a dozen color czars individually research and debate the merits of each color preference until a consensus is formed among the group. From that often passionate and heated debate, forty-four colors are selected to be the coming seasonal Standard Color Card of America. This card, with absolute formulas, is available only to CAUS members and is international in its business/designer influence.
Armed with the standard cards, designers then develop original concepts - careful to stay within the set color formulas - so that their colors won't be at risk. And we, the consumer buy them and infuse our wardrobes and our lifestyles with these choices made by others who "anticipate" what colors we want in our rainbows. These color keys affect our purchases for everything from sofas to garden hoses, architecture, and dinnerware.
Two questions beg answers:
Where did France get their original information? If only we were privy to that answer, New York would be Paris! Instead, New York is home to CAUS, the COLOR Capital of the World.
Which came first - the color or our desire for it? I suspect, that like the Victorian ladies of old - one lady tells another and that lady tells another and...
Devonia is an artist and designer whose artwork, furniture and paintings are sold nationally.
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