What can we expect 2024 to bring in terms of colour trends? In short, it will be an equal split between playful palettes and comforting hues.

Forecasting colour trends begins with research. We need to look to multiple sources to see both what’s happening around the world and locally, and from there we can piece together accurate predictions for what’s about to rise in popularity.

Our first resource to look to is the fashion world. Traditionally, commercial interior design takes its cues from residential trends, and residential gets its inspiration from fashion.

Looking this year’s collections from international fashion designers such as Carolina Herrera, Coach, Phillip Lim, JW Anderson and Proenza Schouler, there were distinct colour themes running throughout all their runway shows: purple, green, blue and red.

Of course, nothing is ever this straight-forward. Within this basic range of colours lies a swag of subtle hues and shades that are coming to the fore.

Purple – This year it’s all about lilacs and lavenders, not too pink and not too blue. This versatile hue works in cooler palettes like against concrete floors and soft grey walls. It also contrasts well with natural materials, like bronze, gold and timber.

Green – Maybe it’s the perpetual chatter about the environment, maybe its because we were all cooped up for so long during lockdown, but green is back. It’s a bold choice, but because it’s a forgiving colour, it can lend itself to multiple industries, from restaurants and bars, through to homeware stores even beauty salon fitouts.

Blue –There are two shades of blue to get into this year, navy and powder blue. Both are a calming and serene interior option. Navy adds dramatic effect, whilst not being too shouty. Powder blue harks back to the 1960s, to the nostalgia of a time when everything didn’t feel as serious as it does now.

Red – It starts with cherry red and escalates into soft dusty pinks. Cherry red is not for the faint-hearted. When used correctly, it’s a pseudo-neutral, when used incorrectly, it’s oppressive. The soft dusty pinks are a little tricky too to incorpaote in interiors. The soft pinks look friendly enough, but if they’re not supported by matching pastels, they quickly err on the side of tacky.

Our second source of insight for colour forecasting is to look at the world we’re living in.

With 24-hour news cycles, social media feeds, and the threat of ever-increasing interest rates, our lifestyles have become a bit more stressful. This affects trends because colour has a big impact on mood and mindset.

If we cast our minds back to the 1970s in Australia, it was a relatively free and easy time – we only had one phone in the house, we worked 9-5 with the weekends off, and even seatbelts were optional. Maybe because we all had more slack in the rope, the colour trends at the time were loud and unapologetic. There was a kaleidoscope of burnt orange kitchens, bright yellow laundries and lime green bathrooms strewn across Australia.

Now, with our more complicated lifestyles, we prefer softer palettes to seek refuge in for a sense of calm. Neutrals in every shade of beige will retain their popularity for the foreseeable future, along with cream, apricot and peach shades.

Lastly, we look to the past to see what trends we’ve most recently come from. As we watch the back of Scandinavian Minimalism and The Hamptons ‘50 Shades of Grey’ interiors, their love of natural materials and surroundings has made a lasting impact.

Taking inspiration from the organic hues of timber, terracotta and stonework, we’re seeing spectrums of sandy tones. Blues inspired by the sea and greens derived from the forest round out this palette.

This colour trend immediately invokes calm so it’s possibly best used in office fitouts where providing an environment to easily concentrate in is a key objective.

These three distinctly different colour palettes can all stand alone, but their real strength lies when they’re used together to support each other – sounds a bit like what we might all need more of in 2024.

It goes without saying that the retail industry is a vast landscape that covers everything from one-off stores, to chains, franchisees, and licensees. With such a big industry, trend forecasting happens within the category sub-sectors, driven by customer needs and expectations, and the pop-culture they bounce off.

Looking at the Sportswear, Luxury and Quick-Service Restaurants (QSR) sectors, there are clear trends we’re seeing on the horizon of 2024 that will shape retail design in the coming years.

SPORTSWEAR RETAIL

Historically, sportswear stores have taken their design inspiration from the old-school gyms and sports fields their products are designed to be worn on. For decades we’ve seen grungy interiors, complete with cyclone wire panelling, heavy-set steel framed shelving, and blacked-out ceilings throughout sports brand and sports department stores.

Possibly because brands are looking to appeal more to both men and women, or because we’re seeing an unprecedented increase in women’s professional sports leagues around the world, sports stores are evolving. These darker and grittier store interiors are being left behind in favour of more neutral, pale palettes.

We’re seeing more blonde timbers, in raw form, veneer and plyboard. To compliment these paler tones, brands will adopt the soft greys of raw and sealed concrete walls and flooring. Coloured accents will be kept to bare minimum to reduce any potential clashing with the brand’s apparel and visual merchandising.

LUXURY RETAIL

The luxury retail sector has not been immune to the rise and influence of social media. Year on year we’ve seen it become intrinsically linked to pop-culture trends, and we’re seeing this play out in store design direction. There are two distinct styles emerging this year: ‘quiet quality’ and ‘bold and brash’.

Following the success of TV shows like Morning Wars and Succession, fashion has seen a surge in the popularity of Quiet Luxury. Rather than wear garments emblazoned with logos all over it, this fashion trend is about wearing high-end but understated, quality pieces.

These brands show their product’s value with using top quality materials and workmanship in their products, so it makes sense they’ll extend this approach throughout their store design too.

Palettes in this style will be pared back so only the quality shines. Hero details like well-finished shelving units and solid timber panelling will be utilised to communicate the brand’s commitment to quality. Wool or wool-mix carpets with thick underlay will convey to its customers the sense of comfort the brand seeks to deliver. Textured wall finishes in hessian and linen will add subtle detail to store, without screaming for attention.

Then there’s the other side of luxury – brands that are proudly screaming from the rooftops about their latest celebrity collaborations and endorsements. This noise in the market needs to be reflected in store, and brands in this sector are going large with their interior design. Bold monochromatic palettes are being used to wrap stores from the ceiling downwards, and textured textiles like shag pile rugs add another layer of over-the-top detail. Increasing the sparkle is also key here and bevelled edging glazing and crystal chandeliers are on the rise. The trend here is everything to excess, including excess.

QUICK-SERVICE RESTAURANTS

Following the covid pandemic and numerous lockdowns in Australia, the QSR sector is feeling the lasting effects throughout their venues’ design and fitouts.

Delivery services that were already growing in popularity before the lockdowns are now a firm fixture of the QSR experience. To ensure the long-term success of add-on delivery services, QSR brands will need to redefine their customer journey according to their distinctly different needs. POS counters will need to be designed to facilitate customers ordering in store. They’ll also need designated areas to serve the steady stream of delivery drivers picking up their orders. Dual counters or separate walk-up counters, that are easily identifiable to both visitors, will play a critical role in reducing wait times for both.

Although we’re officially well past the lockdowns, unfortunately the labour shortage in Australia continues on. Brands are looking for ways to work around staffing issues and are finding solutions by increasing the physical integration of tech devices in store.

QSR venues will need to be planned with provisions to install networked touchscreens that allow customers to order and pay in real-time. To keep the lines of communication open throughout ordering, there will also need to be an increase of live feed digital screens to keep customers up-to-date with where they are in the process.

This will require that stores are designed with clear sightlines so customers can easily see the right screens at the right times. Fixture design will also need to ensure the correct clearances are made to accommodate hardware and cabling requirements.

As the retail experience constantly evolves to serve the customer, it’s always exciting to watch what trends we’ll see next. It’s looking like 2024 will not disappoint.

 

STORY BY RENEE BALLARD, DESIGN STRATEGIST, LEX DESIGN AGENCY