The Economy and the Color (or non-color) Gray

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Gray creeps into the color palette in intervals that make a pattern. Gray is often considered industrial or utilitarian for many products, but it has been elevated to the top of the color chart in times of economic upheaval time and time again.

When the US was in the midst of WWII, gray emerged as a popular companion to other grayed off colors. It lived a few more years before it was replaced with beige as the popular neutral. We didn’t see much of this achromatic hue as we went through the earth tones in the 60’s and 70s. In the late 70s the economy slid once again in gray flourished. Alongside the popular almond beiges you could find gray in textiles, paints and fashions.

One market that was not affected by gray is the appliance industry where almond was the magic potion that took us out of the white sea of all appliances. I was asked to comment on the application of gray on appliances and had to be truthful, gray and painted metal surfaces read as a battleship color. I guess I wasn’t the only one who thought this because the color did not appear again until a few years ago, just as the economy took a nosedive.  It is still popular but we look no longer look at it as a menial tone but as a rich background for most colors in the market. That may be because it is shown as charcoal and almost black as well as in the lighter tones.

The next question is “when gray steps back does it mean the economy is improving?”

Categories: Color psychology, Color Trends, Decorating Tips, Selecting Colors

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