Tag Archive | "keith recker"

Imagining the New Year in Color

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By Claire Walla

Tangerine Tango. It’s bold, it’s exciting; it’s probably one of those colors you either love or you hate. But whether you like it or not, Pantone has named this vibrant shade its official color of the year, which — considering the influence of Pantone, a widely regarded authority on color — means you’ll probably soon be seeing it in retail venues and storefronts across the nation.

When I told Pantone color forecaster Keith Recker I thought the color was fine, but, unfortunately, it was probably the least flattering color combined with my rather bland complexion, he seemed to understand.

“I know,” laughed Recker, whose skin has a similar pigmentation. “Who looks good in tangerine?”

We agreed that Tangerine Tango is a color you either have to have really dark features for or be super-pale to pull off.

“But that’s part of the message,” he continued. “We are operating on two extremes these days. It’s either super expensive, or it’s a bargain. You’re either on the left, or you’re on the right.”

For Recker, as well as the color professionals at Pantone who boldly predicted 2012 as the year of vibrant orange, selecting colors to characterize the entire year takes more than a hunch and intuition.

When selecting colors to represent a given year, Recker, who works from an office in the Loeffler building on Bay Street in Sag Harbor, begins far away from the color wheel. Instead, he gathers information from such sources as current events, hot topics, fashion trends and pop culture. In essence, he tries to take the pulse of the nation far in advance to get a good grasp of what the most prominent issues will be during the course of the year. To these trends and events he assigns emotion, and to these emotions he then attaches color.

For instance, Recker said this year will largely be defined by the 2012 election.

“This color talks to the heated debate we’ll be seeing in 2012,” he explained. “Tangerine Tango is definitely a warning, super-bright, keep-you-on-your-toes color.”

The bold, radical hue, Recker said, could “propel you into achieving more and being more inventive.”

(Just to clarify: Recker was not directly involved with selecting Tangerine Tango as the color of the year, but he stands by Pantone’s decision to single it out. As a color forecaster who works for companies, including Pantone, Recker himself puts together a more wide-ranging handful of color palettes for the year. But, tangerine just so happens to fit in with the gist of his own forecast.)

But if orange is not your thing, have no fear: 2012 is about duality. To better characterize this idea, Recker hand selected two unique color palettes for The Sag Harbor Express, each made up of color swatches culled from the comprehensive color forecast he submitted to Pantone for 2012.

The first palette — containing Tangerine Tango — is a collection of bright, bold, almost candy-coated colors representing the energetic, ambitious side of the year.

“It’s this idea of technology, innovation and moving forward,” Recker explained.

The colors themselves stem from what Recker referred to as “the primacy of technology” in our everyday lives.

“I’m much more conscious of the control technology has over me these days,” he said. “We’ve got all these things that are constantly offering news and stimulation, demanding response and attention, and the response loop is quite small; people want to hear back from you super quick. So, we are faced with on-screen colors most of the day.”

He noted that the fashion world is already broadcasting this message. From Christopher Bailey at Burberry and designer Paul Smith to Ralph Lauren, Recker said spring and summer collections are already featuring bold, brilliant colors.

To complement this message, however, Recker also put together a line of more muted tones: a rich red wine color (which Pantone calls Red Plum), a mustard hue (which Pantone calls Arrowwood) and series of greys. These colors, he said, are about “staying calm, rooted, sensible and grounded.”

These shades have the characteristics of a color palette Recker initially modeled after the vibe of Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

“It’s more of an intellectual take, all the warm colors of leather book bindings — that’s where the Arrowwood comes from,” he explained. “It’s the acquisition of knowledge and understanding, and really enjoying that.”

The idea behind this pair of palettes ultimately urges you to tow the line between being bold and creative, and calm and sensible. And according to Recker, we need both to move forward.

“Unless we make some bold, brilliant changes, what are we going to do?” he asks. “And if we don’t keep our feet on the ground and address some of the fundamentals we’ve really neglected we’re not going anywhere, either. We really need to be strong in both ways, and we need to move back and forth across the divide.”

Which brings us back to the color of the year. Still wondering how to incorporate Tangerine Tango into your life? Take a tip from Recker: he said he actually stepped out of his comfort zone and bought a jacket that definitely sits in the same vein as this vibrant orange hue. What’s more, he said he’s already worn it in public. Twice.

“I feel like a lollipop when I wear it,” he admitted. “But, you know what? I feel great. I have felt so vibrant and so on. Normally, I’d never… But, honestly, it’s felt really good to do something so out of my comfort zone.”

He continued, “For me, if you have to plan how to engage with these colors, just pick one and see how it goes. Get yourself a Tangerine Tango coffee mug and see if you don’t notice a difference. All it takes is one little thing. See what happens… you might like it.”

The Man Who Predicts Color

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By Claire Walla

How do you plan for the future?

Keith Recker starts with two 35-pound boxes of pictures and, after he scans this imagery and considers countless other artistic and visual sources, he reduces the future to 50 swatches of Pantone color.

Recker — who lives on Shelter Island and recently moved into an office in Sag Harbor — is a color forecaster, which, in the simplest of terms, means he predicts which colors will dominate the retail market two years from now.

In addition to Pantone, an internationally renowned corporation that has created over 3,000 copyrighted colors and color-schemes used in dyes, fabrics and computer graphics around the world — he also submits forecasts twice a year to a global trend-forecasting company called WGSN, the self-proclaimed “fashion capital of the 21st Century.”

Recker’s color schemes today will be used to spark conversations tomorrow among clothing designers and retailers, like Target, for instance, who will turn to his color palettes for creative inspiration.

“It’s about suggesting different combinations of color that can be used to make new products, and doing so in the context of a narrative that may be interesting two years from now,” said Recker, one of just a handful of color forecasters in the world.

But color is just the tip of the iceberg.

“I use words, as well as visuals,” Recker explained while flipping through a Power Point presentation of his Spring 2011 collection. The presentation begins with a stack of rectangular color samples, which rest beneath a headline that explain the palette’s overall theme.

“In this 2011 collection I’m trying to talk about walking forward through the great recovery, shaking off the dust of the stuff we’ve been through and really starting to allow ourselves to get enthused and live again.”

This theme emerged after Recker said he floated “a zillion” other ideas all based on certain trends, images and ideas he sifted through while trying to boil the future down to a single concept.

“I’m forever looking for books and magazines and interested in what films are bubbling up and what they look like,” he said. ”One season I find that all of a sudden I’m presenting several dozen pictures from contemporary photography and the next time it’s manuscripts from 20th century America, Asia and Europe.”

When asked where his inspiration comes from, Recker smiled.

“I don’t want to know,” he said. ”To me it’s less about understanding why it’s happening than seeing it happen and letting it flow. There’s no recipe here. The product world thrives on new. Too much repetition and you’re dead in the water.”

Speaking of new, on December 10, Pantone announced its “color of the year” for 2011 — Honeysuckle, a warm tone between pink and red which the company describes as “a captivating, stimulating color that gets the adrenaline going — perfect to ward off the blues.” Last year’s color, by the way, was turquoise. Though Recker said he has nothing to do with choosing the color of the year, per se, the concept behind it matches his narrative for the coming year.

To focus his Spring 2011 palettes, Recker chose to present them using five different personality types: the Contemplative, the Wanderer, the Seducer, the Wallflower and the Romantic.

Recker’s presentation for the Contemplative, for example, is a blend of earth tones ranging from cream-colored shades to muted reds, followed by a series of artistic and graphic design images, including a picture of chestnut brown hair pinned back with a clip made to look like a small twig.

“[The Contemplative] is people being very thoughtful about what’s going on,” Recker explained. “There’s going to be some neutrals and some naturals; but, the insistence on prettiness is coming back, so we see beautiful lavenders and a beautiful, dark red.”

This concept is similar to a color palette Recker projected two years back, which emphasized recycled and environmentally friendly design.

“You had lots of cardboard color, craft paper, those shades of green that signaled sincerity and naturalness,” he said.

That idea of using “gritty” recycled materials, however, has run its course, Recker said.

To explain the difference, Recker points to a shade of pale white from the Contemplative color palette on his computer: “This is wood that hasn’t been stained, or pushed through a chipper and reconstituted with environmentally safe epoxy,” he said. “It has the simplest, freshest wax treatment.”

Though Recker has yet to see whether these 2011 predictions are on the ball, the present moment is a fleeting concern for a forecaster. Recker is already planning for 2013.

And as for what we can expect to see in 2012, Recker said the presidential elections will most likely play a big part in forming our national mindset.

“You can probably predict a pretty high volume [of interest] and lots of shouting. So, how’s that going to feel? How’s that going to look? How is our visual environment going to accommodate that?”

After a silent pause, Recker answers.

“In our cultural context, colors have messages,” he said. “ And you [have to] pay attention to what has already been done and what feels like it has a lot of energy, as well as what the likely social, psychological, emotional, political and economic landscapes are. Then, somehow, it just happens. A picture comes together.”

“You just have to think about it,” he added. “You just have to think about it all the time.”