A member of the Color Marketing Group (CMG), Scarlett Ballantyne is part of a global network of designers who predict upcoming colour trends, create new shades and influence everything from the tint of your bedroom walls to the gleam of the car in your driveway.
I desperately need advice on paint colours, but, over lunch at the Opus Hotel’s Elixir restaurant (a beige fish cake for me, a tawny brown veal cutlet for her), Ballantyne, 36, confesses she hates being put on the spot. “It’s a hazard of the job. It’s like being a doctor, but instead of ‘I have a pain,’ it’s ‘I painted this and it didn’t work.’” She sighs. So much for the stash of paint chips in my pocket. Instead, I ask Ballantyne what hues are big right now. “Green is huge because of ecology, sustainability, etcetera,” she opines. “Yellow is another big story. If you track fashion at all, you’ll see that yellow is getting really hot. You’re seeing it a lot in leather shoes and expensive handbags.” “Wasabi green,” in particular, has been a big hit since appearing in the CMG 2007 forecast – although it’s suspiciously similar to the avocado green of the ’70s. Names, apparently, mean everything in this industry. “You might be really attracted to a colour named ‘Muskoka dusk’ because you think of Ontario and Muskoka and what a beautiful area that is,” explains Ballantyne, who recently collaborated with Heritage Vancouver to re-create the original paint colours of local heritage homes. “But that colour could be called ‘earthworm.’ That still describes the colour, but it’s not romantic at all.” Just back from a CMG workshop in Chicago, Ballantyne admits sparks can fly when colour marketers meet. She cites a recent altercation with a woman from a towel company who insisted that burnt red was going to be the next big thing. “I can kind of see it being a hot colour in towels,” Ballantyne allows, “because you don’t see a lot of red towels on the market. But for us, the sundried-tomato colour is very five years ago.” As for the harvest-gold-coloured appliances in my new kitchen, I’m obviously hooped. When I mention them, Ballantyne lets out a gasp. “Ooooh,” she says, brow furrowed with concern. “That’s really bad.”