Dave Pinter: Top Color Ideas In Design

At New York's Design Week this year, furniture pieces exhibited offer a color commentary.

Dave Pinter
Dave Pinter on June 9, 2013. @DavePinter

The past five years have been particularly a struggle for the design industry and in particular home and commercial furnishings. The economic crash caused by the big banks reduced the demand for furniture to fill office and residential projects. So sales for companies that provide seating, case goods and lighting haven’t been as strong compared with more prosperous times. The slow economy has also slowed product development and this has been noticeable at recent editions of the International Contemporary Furniture Fair where new product introductions have been more sporadic.

Signs of new life are beginning to return to the industry particularly in the LED lighting fixture category and furnishings with an emphasis on quality. While many companies who exhibited at the 2013 ICFF and NYCxDesign week didn’t have brand new products, there was still an opportunity to grab attention and interest. What quite a few chose to do was use bright, bold color to attract the eyes of visitors. While it is easy to call the choice and use of these colors a product trend, that isn’t exactly the case.

Color can trigger an emotional response and with a lot of top tier manufacturers selecting bright hues, they were probably hoping to share a happy and optimistic outlook and break away from the past few difficult years. Reality is that neutral colors sell in greater volume but from a marketing angle, all of these pieces are meant to be show standouts. What you will notice is the colors themselves are aligned more towards the florescent and secondary end of the color spectrum instead of straight primary hues. They give the pieces a fresher and more lively look as a result.


Softshell Chair by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec upholstered in bright yellow.


Alvar Aalto stools.


Broom Chair by Philippe Starck.


Nolen Niu

Poly lounge chair.


The Stockholm Collection shown in bright greens and yellows.


Right Twist Cubes by Frank Gehry.

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Volk Furniture
Hand painted side tables which can be reconfigured to alter the overall shape and surface patterns.


The Concord Collection by Claesson Koivisto Rune allows mix or match color and material options.


Brandon Kim
LILT chair upholstered in bright red fabric.


Yeji Kim
Fabric swivel stools shown in warm bright hues.


Tom Dixon
Drum Stools in bright cyan and yellow.

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Paola Navone’s African/Asian inspired furniture collection for the fashion retailer.

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Bernhardt Design

One of the most color saturated stands at ICFF 2013 featured some new and updated seating products by Bernhardt. Lounge chairs and high back sofa’s were presented covered in almost florescent hued fabrics. Quite a departure for a company that usually presents pieces in all white or neutral shades with just a touch of a bright color. The color message here was clearly about optimism and starting fresh.

International Contemporary Furniture Fair