• Niels Holger Wien





Nowadays, in our turbulent medialized reality cultural contexts count more than ever. For our trend research, Intercolor has become a valuable cultural context because we – we means researchers/delegates from 17 member organisations of Intercolor – come together to exchange about colour trends and their cultural contexts. Intercolor meetings are always set in cultural contexts. This time the 17 delegations travelled to Orlando in Florida for a first Intercolor meeting since 1963 beyond the Atlantic Ocean.

Intercolor Orlando, Epcot® Center and Kennedy Space Center, Photos NHW

Invited by our colleagues of Beautystreams/CEW, the meeting was naturally set in tropical sun and heat, balanced with air-conditioned chill, and located in a corporate Disney territory. That already held a special energy: Your body echoing the blazing sun, and your mind reflecting the inevitable, noisy scenery of entertainment-fun-consumption.

We toured the Epcot® International Walt Disney World® Resort – a kind of world expo confronting ambitious future visions with a sequence of clichéd cultural simulations. A Disney-fied world.

When you enter such a Disney world today you might get the impression that a very special future has become reality.

Some quick insights: 4D cinema is challenging reality now, with immersive interacting spheric 3D vision, movement, wind, smell and surrounding sound, of course. Really impressive. The majority of Mickey/Minnie Mouse headpieces were sparkling from sequins and glitter, mostly in pink or turquoise. Omnipresent and invasive shopping is no fun. Obesity is disturbingly widespread. Entertainment is also very patriotic.

DMI Intercolor Encounters A Day in 2030, Photos NHW

From this we moved forward to our trans-cultural contexts: Intercolor Encounters, this time with visions for A DAY IN 2030. In the diverse presentations we found a very positive accordance about technological developments and possibilities. When technology will have become infrastructure digitally integrating our everyday life. “Radical Technologies reshape work” (ICFin, Finland). “HeriTech” (Color Coloris, Italy) could be helping to integrate all aspects of our cultural history. Of course there were samples of future mobility from self-driving cars to flying cabs, from personal digital assistants to monitoring home appliances. Most of the visions depend on access and connectivity – for all of us. We need a different view on technology, because technology isn’t doing anything, it’s us! There are always people creating technology – inventing, coding, connecting, transforming.

Intercolor Orlando, Epcot® Center and Kennedy Space Center, Photos NHW

Uniting idea of the conversations was to face climate change as one of the biggest threats of humanity – and the need “to act now” (BTCG, UK). Protest is important, young protest is encouraging, Greta is a great role model, but not as a singularity, there are more opinions and und positions to include. We need “Civil Activism” (ICFin, Finland) to go on substantial problems – rising awareness for climate warming (DCB, Denmark), for the destruction of nature (Martha Tilaar Foundation, Indonesia), for the preciousness of water. “Solar Age”, “Energy Transformation” (DMI, Germany) will be based on intelligent systems. The tenor here was realistic with a dystopian edge.

Future Food was a recurring issue too. Can we agree on a sustainable agriculture to save our soils? Will we be able to reintegrate local, urban farming into our routines? Will we accept synthesized food from 3D-printers, too?

Intercolor Orlando, Epcot® Center and Kennedy Space Center, Photos NHW

To learn where to guide our future we have to know our present reality. This is the real challenge: to puzzle all the layers of reality for a comprehensive picture.

The colour workshop became the next reality check at the Intercolor meeting. Working on colours and harmonies is wonderful with bright sun around, with positive vibes and with local bright colours in mind. Tracing parallels in the about 70 harmonies happened quite uncomplicated, with a strong polarity between a digital, synthetic luminescence and grounded, material related colours.

But how to discuss about themes and harmonies when all has to restart on a sustainable basis, what could be the consequences. We discussed about abundance and about basics, about diversity and relevance. About longevity and hyper-choice, about quality and fast fashion.

We finalized a new colour concept considering the need for both longevity and change – with optimal basics and neutrals being redefined on a very material-related level. Increasing the optimal basic colours and scaling down the colour harmonies. We re-invented colour worlds in the tension field of BALANCES and CLASHES.

Intercolor Orlando, local colours, Photo NHW

Finally towards space, technology, the future. After having missed a rocket launch from Cape Canaveral two nights before – it had been cancelled because of higher winds changes – we went to see the futures at NASA Kennedy Space Centre. The soundtrack here had more Star Trek pathos, less Disney sweetness. Also here we were in an entertainment park but with space, and science, and technology as story. Almost no Mickey-ears wearers here. The artefacts of space travel are really beautiful with their different design language of functionality. Rockets were elegantly gleaming in the sun, while white and silver space suits were set in the dark like floating in outer space. For me the most intriguing artefact was the space shuttle Atlantis staged in a huge hangar. You couldn’t really picture it as whole space ship but you could get quite close. The heat shield consists of thousands of ceramic tiles, all coded and numbered like an abstract puzzle. I had never expected the white surface looking like a quilted, padded textile slightly off-white with traces of use. A spontaneous thought reminded me of a Miyake kimono jacket or a Margiela white-painted design. A fashion momentum with space technology, the zeitgeist is linking reference points.

Reality is floating: what is real, what is artificial, what is simulation, and what is artefact? What was made to entertain or to distract us?

HYPER REALITY is staring point for our S/S 21 season. We started our publications with the COLOUR MOODS PREVIEW, COLOUR MOODS DIGITAL. Follow us with our information on the S/S 21 season, with MATERIALS and SURROUND to be published next.

And visit the DMI FASHION DAY; we’ll talk about the future and about relevant design.

The next Intercolor congress will take place in Germany, in Cologne, hosted by DMI.

We’ll inform you about things to come.

Intercolor has 17 members currently. The DMI represents Germany at Intercolor as a member since 2007. Before 1990 the two German states were separately members at Intercolor. Intercolor used to help to bridge borders, and this is its most valuable challenge.

Intercolor was founded in 1963 for international exchange of fashion colour trends.


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