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120 Iconic Colours and their Colour Culture

Colours are part of our awareness of life, our memories, and our sense of style. A team of trend researchers, art historians, interior designers, and colourists established by Caparol dedicated itself to the exciting topic of zeitgeist and the culture of space. The research included art, music, architecture, literature, design, technical progress, fashion, people, ideas, and revolutions that have lend our colour culture its various identities. This resulted in 120 modern, elegant colour icons of the CAPAROL ICONS collection.

Every single colour is a tribute to time: moments of colour history with cult status that give colours a timeless and emotive character.

Yearning for Innocence

The 1950s

The desire for a new beginning was reflected in a trend towards light, powdery shades reminiscent of ice cream. Rose-coloured glasses let the world appear in soft, delicate pastel shades that symbolised blossoming optimism. The Eames couple designed their cult classics. America became the guiding culture for interiors, cars, and music. The age of space travel was dawning – new galaxies were enticing with iridescent colours.

New Lust for Life

The 1960s

The economic miracle offered people and colours more possibilities and gave them self-confidence. Rock 'n' roll, sexual liberation, and a general urge for change were omnipresent. In the Swinging Sixties, London became the epicentre of the revolt against the establishment. The creative restlessness of the youth culture was shaping new lifestyles, art and music styles. Colourfulness, too, emancipated itself. This resulted in provocative bold colours like those in a Pop Art painting, often staged in front of black and white Op Art patterns. Primary colours as a reference to the Bauhaus style were in vogue.

Freedom and Cosiness

The 1970s

Disco fever and counter culture conquered the world. The hippie movement proclaimed free love and mind-expanding substances – a new individualism clashed with the community feeling of communitarianism learned in the 1960s: being famous, even if only for 15 minutes. At the same time, economic and political uncertainties led to a return to one's home. This mixture of the desire for security and extremes was reflected in psychedelic colour combinations of earthy brown-green with bright purple-orange.

A Synthetic World

The 1980s

Walls were falling. The new technologies of personal computers, video games, synthesizers, and the first mobile phones created an artificial, achromatic world of cool colours. The trend colours were neon, metallic, and grey. Designers such as the Memphis Group presented stark contrasts in colours and patterns. A new androgynous self-image was celebrated on the streets of big cities and documented with graffiti art.

A New Awareness

The 1990s

The ecological movement made people aware of the fragility of our environment and brought the natural colours associated with it to homes and wardrobes: delicate shades of green and warm beige replaced the rational austerity in design and architecture. The result was a luxurious purism that required bright, subtle colours. Materials such as wood, natural fibre, and fair-faced concrete were harmoniously combined with a maximum of off-whites and nude shades.

The New Millennium

The 2000s

Globalisation and the Internet made information and images omnipresent. Social media, apps, and computer animations shaped a new visual aesthetic full of strong emphases using lots of red and blue. The rejection of the trend dictate let the eclectic nature of colours become tangible: the sense of style was oriented towards an international lifestyle and demanded extravagant hues as a statement of individuality. Opulent imagery and fetish culture provided intoxicatingly intense colours. At the same time, a trend was developing towards understatement, a return to traditions and everything that is ecologically sustainable – this was reflected in a preference for noble classical shades.