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The New Orange is Yellow

 As the palette continues it's warming trend for the decade, yellow is the new orange. It always happens that when one color gains prominence, when the shift takes place it moves to an adjacent color on the color wheel. Not only will we be seeing a lot of yellow in fashion this spring, it's going to show up in residential design as well. You'll even see it showing up in vibrantly colored walls.

Look for it to show up in other tones such as chamois and butter. We'll also see an emergence of pale, golden shades and tints of the color, including blond. Watch for blond or natural wood to become more dominant.

Color takes a major turn every decade. The 70's were known for the avocado green and gold; the 80's were known for mauve, blue and grey; the 90's were known for teal greens and purple; and in the new millennium we've been so far enamored with reds, spice colors, black and white and orange. Then there are the greens, that moved from the cool greens of the past into warmer apple greens and grass greens as the palette continues its warming trends.

For more specific information on current color trends, especially what is being forecast for 2004, consider getting a copy of our Current Color Trends Report. For more information, click here: Color Trends.

Fail Safe Color Selection

All color is divided into two Color Keys: Color Key 1 and Color Key 2. Key 1 colors have a blue undertone mixture and Key 2 colors have a yellow undertone in their mixture. Mixing and matching colors from one of these two individual groups will always produce fail-safe color harmony.

For example, white is assumed to be a natural color. However there is a blue-based white, a snowy white. And there is a yellow-based white, a creamy white. Put these two whites together and you have dissonance. There is a cool red and a warm red, a cool blue and a warm blue, a cool green and a warm green. And so all colors fall into the Key 1 or Key 2 categories. Some are obviously in one Key or another. Some are harder to tell. This is where it becomes particularly difficult to know what colors work well together.

The point is that you must choose all of your colors from one Key or the other. Do not try to mix some from one Key with that of the other one. They will clash. If you combine warm colors with other warm colors, you'll find harmony. The same is true when combining cool colors with other cool colors. The trick is not to cross your Color Keys together.

Safety Colors

Faber Birren, a long standing color expert, developed a color safety code that was later accepted by The American Standards Association. When you see certain colors, you are reminded of the need for safety and here are some of those colors and what they represent.

Yellow - Yellow is used in combination with black to mark hazards where one could stumble or fall. It is painted on barriers, dead-ends, low hanging beams or edges of platforms. It is also used on entrance or exit bumpers to caution vehicles to steer clear. Yellow has a high visibility rating, therefore it is used to mark aisles and to paint overhead moving objects, such as cranes.

Orange - Orange is used for any acute hazard that is likely to crush, cut, burn or shock a worker. It is also painted around the edges of cutting machines and rollers. It acts as a warning to those opening switch boxes and fuse boxes and silently yells "Be Careful!"

Green - Green has always been identified with safety and medical care. It is used to identify safety equipment and its location. It is used on first aid equipment, cabinets for stretchers, gas masks, medicine cabinets and so forth. The lettering is usually white.

Red - We associate this color with fire protection. It is reserved for marking fire protection devices and for the location of fire fighting equipment. Look for it to be painted in a band on columns or on a wall behind a fire extinguisher. It is also used on valves or fittings for hose connections.

Blue - Blue is the color for caution. A blue flag with white lettering is used to mark any type of equipment that is "out of order" or undergoing repairs. The railroad industry used blue to mark rail cars that should not be moved.

White/Black/Gray - When you want to mark where stock is stored, use white. It is also used for positioning waste receptacles and marking aisles. White baseboards and corners will discourage littering and encourage people to clean along the edges and into the corners.

By being conscious about color safety, we become more aware of hazards and this lowers the chances for injuries.

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