15 Nov Where Have All The Colors Gone?
It might feel like hyperbole to declare that colors are disappearing from the world. Crafters in particular eschew this supposition; we indulge in the daily practice of exploring and utilizing color in our crafts. From popular projects like the Find Your Fade Shawl in the knitting community to year-long embroidery journals in the needlework community to the Meadowland Quilt in the quilting community, color drives our passions and projects. So what does it mean when TikTokers, media outlets, and others declare that the world is slowly draining of color?
A World Gone Gray
It’s not just in their imaginations. The (lack of) color conversation began when a Tumblr user named Macleod posted about an article from lab.sciencemuseum.org.uk. The article analyzed a selection of 7,000 pieces dating back to the 1800s from the Science Museum Group Collection to track color, form, and textural changes. The results showed a stark diminishing of color.
The article states that “the most notable trend…is the rise in grey (sic) over time.” It also states that “everyday objects may have become a little greyer (sic) and a little squarer over time.” Based on the chart above, black, white and gray once shared approximately 10% representation in objects; today, the monochrome scale enjoys about a 40% share in representation. It’s important to remember that the study analyzed a selection of objects—not all objects, and certainly not the outside world. But as Macleod points out in his tumblr post, things like home interiors and architecture reflect this trend toward desaturation.
The crafting community is not immune to color trends. Remember when everything was grellow? Or when everything suddenly turned millennial pink? The influence of color trends often spill into the crafting world; a Ravelry search for grellow confirms as much. But while we may ride the tides of trending color stories, we haven’t yet fallen prey to leaching color from our crafts entirely. Black, white and gray will always be classics—but crafters remain steadfast in their love of all hues.
As the world around us turns more gray, it appears branding has followed suit. Many high fashion brands known for logos with stylistic swirls and flourishes have opted for staid, all-caps block letter logos.
Dubbed “reblanding” by some, this move towards minimalism has its roots in the prominence and prevalence of the digital world. Logos that once graced the pages of fashion magazines, newspapers, and architecture at legible scale ratios must now comply with a digital landscape. Brands have simplified text and fonts to cooperate with pixel renderings and better perform on digital devices.
Many feel this trend towards minimalism makes brands less memorable or recognizable. A Harvard Business Review report found that people generally found minimalist logos less likable and authentic. However, minimalism—at least in branding—can offer a positive side effect: accessibility. Web pages with cluttered interfaces, fluctuating fonts, and too many elements can be difficult for user interaction. Uxplanet.org states that “minimalism in moderation can create efficient user experiences” and “reduces information overload.”
But What Does This Mean for Crafters?
As previously noted, it doesn’t really feel like the color hysteria has reached the crafting world. We aren’t all knitting, crocheting, sewing, quilting, embroidering, or crafting in monotonous tones of black and white. Crafting is a naturally colorful pursuit. Color is both our palette and our canvas; we play as much with color as we do shape and texture.
If anything, we should continue to look to our world for color inspiration. Steal from the beautiful eccentricities of color and form still present in our world and inject that into your crafting. Continue to follow Pantone’s yearly color reports to keep an eye on the trending colors. Keep refreshing your color palette, and never stop fueling your curiosity and creativity. If the world is growing grayer, it is up to us to infuse it with more color.
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