As many people enter the eight consecutive month of Life in the Time of COVID and further come to terms with its norms — working from home, Zoom calls, mask wearing, social distancing, economic insecurity, and all the inherent anxieties — and cope with the chaotic social and political events of the past few months, a seismic aesthetic shift has occurred. Our collective color preferences have changed. People have been re-painting their homes and workspaces in a bold array of comforting, anxiety-easing hues. It’s been dubbed the “quarantine palette” and it is here. Get used to it.
According to an ArtNews story last week, people are seeking clean, soothing, positive or otherwise neutral colors in response to the negativity and uncertainty of our current world. These colors have names like Soft Bisque, Hague Blue, and Dock Leaf. Blues and greens are popular. Paint manufacturers are reporting huge demand for these type of colors and sudden, sharp declines in otherwise popular and overstimulating colors like “Living Coral, which was Pantone’s 2019 color of the year, and the basis for many trend forecasters and industries’, especially fashion, design plans for the coming years. Demand for the shiny brightness of glossy finishes for these colors has also soared.
The power of color to affect a persons mood and behavior is an established idea. “Color psychology,” as it’s known, is a factor in so many aesthetic decisions beyond home decor or the color of the walls in a doctor’s waiting room. Product and visual design, marketing, and lighting are just a few other areas where the importance of color is well understood. Where a blue might be a calming tone on one person’s emotional state, a yellow might be make people feel irritated or anxious. Where a drab brown hue might depress some, a vivid green might uplift and relax others.
For us, we like austere, minimalist hues. We always have. White walls or extremely pale grays work for us (look at our website!). We recently moved to a new home and while the previous owners had walls tastefully painted in a range of beiges, dark grays and yellows, we had everything repainted the same bright white with an eggshell finish. This kind of unobtrusive minimalism works much like the “white cube” walls of an art gallery, as a neutral high-contrast background to the artwork. It removes distraction. For us, such a backdrop reassures us and allows greater focus on the “art” that is our daily activity and home life. And, for now and the foreseeable future, our work life, too!