Trends in color are heavily influenced by the current state of the world. So in a time of rising inflation, global wars and climate crisis, it’s no surprise we’re seeing a collective yearning for escapism and angst expressed through color.
This year, expect to see a strong divide between nostalgic, calming color palettes and dark, dystopian color schemes. Calming and positive color palettes give us much needed escapism and optimism, while darker dystopian colors tackle the current political and economic landscape head-on with grit.
The 2023 color trends are all about light and shade, offering us an opportunity for self-expression on the far ends of the spectrum. So whether you’re in the optimism camp or in the pessimism (or dare we say realist) school of thought, this year’s color trends have got you covered.
Here are the top 8 color trends for 2023:
- ’70s color scheme
- Acidic hues
- Silver chrome
- Ecstatic colors
- Millennial kitsch
- Warm Mediterranean
- Dark sci-fi tones
- Undersaturated earth tones
Designers are looking back to the calm and cool color palette of the ’70s for inspiration with earthy browns, avocado greens, mustard yellows and harvest golds taking their turn in the spotlight. Think hazy California sunsets, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza and the wardrobes of Fleetwood Mac.
As well as creating a sense of blissful nostalgia for a simpler time, its earthy hues help ground us by creating a feeling of comfort, familiarity and approachability, a few things we all need during these uncertain times.
It’s time to relax. The ’70s aesthetic reflects our want for calm, cool colors and a simpler time, which has leaped to design to let people know that the product they are looking at is approachable and familiar.
The acidic color scheme isn’t just bright, sharp colors, it’s about colors that hurt your eyes (in the most aesthetically pleasing way, of course). This trend is rooted in science, taking inspiration from testing acidic substances. The more acidic a substance, the brighter the color gets.
Totally opposite to the soft aesthetics of the ’70s color trend, these arresting and striking colors grab your attention. If standing out in the crowd is in your brief, the acidic color palette is most definitely your answer.
I love how this color trend is in sharp contrast with the softer, earthtone-based color schemes we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in recent years. These super-saturated tones are attention grabbing and fun.
Similar to the graphic design trend of acid graphics, the silver chrome color trend fits perfectly within the bracket of moodiness and dark unease.
This trend is all about subverting the status quo with its distorted, melted metallic look. The shade of silver can range from a dark or dull tone to a shiny silver metal. This color trend fits in with adjacent styles like acid graphics and anti-design because it’s less about beauty for beauty’s sake, and more about stirring anti-establishment expression and pushing back on norms.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed in today’s economical and political landscape, and you only need to read the news to feel an instant hit of despair. It’s therefore important that while we actively fight for a better world, we also inject some light into the shade. These ecstatic colors do exactly that with their vibrant and highly-saturated hues.
Ecstatic colors are bright and bold, which create a confident, fearless impression that gets your attention. Because these colors are joyful and happy, they also give off a youthful and playful energy. In all the doom and gloom in the world, these colors break through and give us a glimmer of hope as we look ahead.
The millennial kitsch color trend takes inspiration from the late 1990s to mid-2000s, when brands marketed to teenage girls with ornate, playful aesthetics in cheerful colors like blue, pink, yellow and green.
For some, these colors remind us of a simpler time when we weren’t so attached to the internet, a fond memory of childhood or a connection with something familiar. And for others, it symbolizes optimism and hope for the future, as younger generations find power in expression through bright, energizing colors.
The beauty of the warm Mediterranean color palette is that it taps into a desire for escapism and travel in a post-COVID world. The dusty reds, pink and gray clay tones give a nod to that island on your holiday bucket list, and that beautiful ceramic studio in Mallorca you’ve been dying to visit.
The soft and gentle tones of the Mediterranean color trend leave you feeling relaxed and calm, just as if you were enjoying a holiday somewhere warm.
Warm Mediterranean hues are a direct juxtaposition to some of the color trends this year, but that’s what makes this trend so appealing. The soothing, muted hues reinforce a calmness that is needed at a time when everyone is going for bold colors to stand out.
Dark sci-fi tones offer us something a lot more serious and almost sinister. The essence of the dark sci-fi color trend is that it holds up a mirror to the darker side of today’s world, a world consumed by technological advancements that seem to entrap us rather than liberate us. This darker color trend reflects darker times.
These sci-fi hues give us a bold and striking palette that draws the viewer into another world. While most colors are darker shades, like dark browns, blues and grays, using a brighter color like blue, yellow or red can add a dramatic contrast to the darkness. Overall, this color trend has a moodiness to it that allows us to reflect on these darker times, as we contemplate rumblings of revolution and anti-establishment sentiments.
The colors of understated earth tones take inspiration from nature and the great outdoors. Think earthy browns, light greens, gentle yellows and soft blues that are set against harmonious and soft off-white paper tones.
This particular color palette provides us with a soft and comforting energy that helps bring down the energy from the chaos and busyness from day to day life. Visually, these colors are gentle on our eyes. And they remind us to take a moment to slow down. These colors work great for sustainable packaging design and baby product branding.
As a nature lover, my comfort zone always aligns with earth tones. They offer such a nice visual break from everything trying to grab our attention and can remind us to take some time to slow down and unwind
Express yourself with the top color trends of 2023
The color trends of 2023 are all about finding light and shade in today’s world, whether that’s using color schemes from another time to escape, embracing bright colors for a positive outlook or immersing in dark hues as a reflection of darker times. Just as you express yourself with what you choose to wear, these color trends give you space for expression.
Through expression in colors, we’re able to find relief or a way to navigate through the chaos of life. Though color alone can’t solve all the world’s problems, they challenge us to reflect and give us a glimmer of hope as we look ahead.