While colour is key to what they do, interior designers and architects can sometimes struggle when it comes to delivering palettes that immediately resonate with their clients. 

“Ultimately, colour is a tool for communication,” says Carolina Calzada and Justine Fox, co-founders of Calzada Fox, the leading colour consultancy, who conducted a workshop for design professionals at Downtown Design 2018. “Colour is not just aesthetic, it has a visceral quality to it and it should mean something within the framework of its application.”

For a client to buy into a colour scheme, research is key. "It allows the designer to step outside the zone of their personal preference. Arriving at a colour scheme derived from local ethnographical insights and global cues has a greater chance of succeeding with the end-user and the designer can irrefutably back their proposal” says Justine Fox.

“Some of the designers we met during Downtown Design spoke about the need to create a modern identity for the MENA region as they didn’t want their projects to become too folkloric,” says Carolina. “We feel it is important that the hidden potential in culturally associated colours be explored across the wide section of their undertones as well as complimentary palettes and textures.” That way, one still provides a response that has a sense of place and culture but is not a pastiche of the past.

The duo who works with some of the leading design brands also recommends that the design community re-assess its approach to industry trends. “Before you subscribe to any brand’s ‘Colour of the Year’, study the societal context behind it,” suggests Justine. “The science, psychology and undercurrents behind the much-publicized colour can also inspire an entirely different colour palette that is as much on-trend as it subverts it.”

At Downtown Design, Calzada Fox made a case for the colour Blue dominating design in 2020; citing attributes such as gentle focus, clarity, playfulness and joy. What colour do they think will succeed it?

“We are exploring the correlation between the built inside and the outdoors, in particular, the design response to transitional spaces,” says Carolina. “We feel urban shades of green such as olive and khaki will find a strong following in the Middle East as codes of biomimicry and biophilia inform more and more projects.”