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2023 colour trends: maximalism and dopamine decor

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Every year, the “RAL Colour Feeling” trend report presents new developments in colour and design. The report is based on studies and analyses of trends in fashion, interior design, architecture and other fields. As a tool for designers’ work, it contains a selection of colours that are forecast to be popular in the coming years. We spoke with Markus Frentrop and Laura Kilian from RAL Colours about current topics in colour design and the potential for excitement in new colour trends.

“RAL Colour Feeling 2023+” Trend Box (Source: RAL Farben/Photo: Timo Rieke)

Challenge for architecture and interior design

Mrs. Kilian, Mr. Frentrop, what future developments do you expect to see in colour design for furniture and interiors?

Firstly, we’d like to see the topic of colour design continue to assume greater importance generally. Colour has a significant influence on our well-being, emotions and activity in all spheres of life. As the contexts in which rooms are used have become considerably more demanding, incorporating colour-material concepts in a way that meets people’s needs will be a major challenge for architecture and interior design

RAL-Trend Box_2

„RAL Colour Feeling 2023+” Leporello. (Source: RAL Farben/Foto: Timo Rieke)

Influences on future colour design

What do you see as the biggest influences on the colour design of interiors?

We’re seeing that sustainability, circularity and durability are having a strong impact on the colour design of furniture and interiors. Fundamental changes such as the use of natural pigments and extracting dyes from plants fibres will lead to new developments in the design of interior concepts, depending on the context. It’s also conceivable that a new approach to creating colour collections will emerge. Instead of starting from scratch each time, combining existing shades and products with new developments could open up new potential and additional customer groups through its innovative impact.

What other factors do you see influencing future colour design?

The merging of working and living spaces will continue because we want a feeling of well-being in the office, too – as if we were “at home”. The choice of colours has a profound influence here, and this is the starting point for the “RAL Colour Feeling” trend report. It invites designers to create different moods and effects in the concept stage.

Trend Box

“RAL Colour Feeling 2023+” Trend Box (Source: RAL Farben/Foto: Timo Rieke)

A tool for interior design

How can the trend report be used in interior design?

The trend report provides orientation in relation to colour moods, combinations and psychological effects, ranging from playful to functional colour combinations. It covers both colours that work well as accent colours or highlights and shades that are suitable for use across large areas. We see both as highly relevant to the interior design industry. In addition, the RAL Trend Box that we’ve created contains a total of 60 colour-material-pattern combinations. It’s an ideal tool for experimenting with pairing different colours and materials and for developing mood boards for different atmospheres and contexts.

Empirical basis

How is the RAL trend report produced?

For many years, the colour trend report has been produced in close collaboration with the IIT (Institute International Trendscouting) at HAWK University of Applied Sciences and Art in Hildesheim. Timo Rieke, Full Professor of Colour Design, leads the empirical identification of the colours. The trend report considers social and design developments from the past 60 years up until the present day. The colour spectrum that we’ve developed draws on both fundamental design categories and studies on the effect of colour and colour perception.

Markus Frentrop and Laura Kilian

Markus Frentrop, Head of RAL Farben and a member of the Advisory Board of the German Colour Centre (Deutsches Farbenzentrum e.V.) and Laura Kilian, Marketing & Product Manager at RAL Farben. (Source: RAL Farben)

Exciting new colour developments

What new colour developments do you find especially exciting?

The interaction between directions that are actually quite different has extraordinary potential for excitement in our view. On the one hand, we see shades that appear natural and are inspired by algae and earth colours. These nature-inspired shades will continue to play an essential role because they represent what is perhaps the biggest challenge for the coming years, namely environmental and climate protection. On the other hand, more synthetic shades reflect the sense of a new beginning and the invigorating creativity of the metaverse.

What do you associate with it?

The incredibly dynamic developments emerging around the metaverse and Web 3.0 are inspiring unconstrained creativity and courageous innovations. Look beneath the visible surface, and you’ll often find lots of exciting developments there. For both the colour directions that we’ve mentioned, more saturated shades are becoming increasingly important, both online and offline. Maximalism and dopamine decor – the deliberate use of vibrant colours and contrasts to boost energy levels and convey a sense of joie de vivre – have now become established in large parts of society.

As an enduring source of information on colour and design trends, the “RAL Colour Feeling 2023+“ trend report will be presented on the Trend Stage at interzum 2023 on 9 May. You can find the complete program in the event search.