Cologne: 04.–07.05.2021 #interzum

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Three questions for: colour expert Dr. Hildegard Kalthegener


Colour library

Colour library, © SystemToWin

As a designer, lecturer and colour expert, Dr. Hildegard Kalthegener works in very different industries. At the coming interzum, she will discuss the relationship between colour systems and individual design in her talks. Three questions on contemporary colour trends and intelligent colour planning.

Dr. Kalthegener, what trends are you currently observing in the use of colours in furniture and interior design?

At trade fairs and in interiors over the past few years, we’ve seen many achromatic, predominantly grey shades, which is something that will change slightly in the future. Grey will remain popular for a while, but it will be diversified in many subtly coloured shades. The less chromatic surface will tone perfectly with the accent or dominant colour. What’s more, the meaning of tones between lightened terracotta and watermelon red is changing. Pink – and violet, too, – was an absolute no-go for men for a long time. But even today, a small quantity of the right shade between flamingo and salmon combined with a selection of attractive grey shades and beautiful woods can be a trend-conscious eye-catcher for all genders. The key is to identify trends as quickly as possible so that you have longer to think about whether and how to apply them.

Planing with real patterns

Planing with real patterns, © SystemToWin

At the coming interzum, you are giving a talk on colour systems and the increasing individualisation of design in the Materials & Nature Piazza. How do these two ideas relate to each other?

Individualisation and systems do not have to be a contradiction in terms in my eyes. Many decorators and users think that a colour system – and by that they mean almost any system – restricts creative freedom to make choices and create combinations, and therefore prevents them from coming up with original solutions. That’s not the case. There are intrinsically system-based ideas that can be used to develop a huge number of individual solutions – easily and with sure-fire results. This can even be achieved with a relatively small number of colours if an intelligent collection plan is applied.

imm cologne 2017

Impression from imm cologne 2017, © Hildegard Kalthegener

Colour simultaneously fulfils a functional need and an atmospheric one. Which criteria should be taken into account when choosing colours for interiors?

The search for general rules for creating colour harmony has to this day not produced a universally accepted solution, despite all the smart solutions. But it’s still helpful to be aware of certain criteria. Especially if you have hardly any time and rarely have the budget to experiment, as is so often the case in day-to-day work. Colour planning also shouldn’t be done on screen: the deviations are a frequent source of error. It is much safer to work with physical true-colour samples of colours and materials, even if it might look a bit old-school. In my view, there are a lot more rules that are easy to grasp even if they may be complex than the general public is aware of. I will explore this idea in more depth at interzum.