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Final report: BD+C's 2020 Color Trends Report

This special research report from the editors of BD+C explores the leading trends and drivers related to the use of color on commercial, institutional, and multifamily building projects. 

August 05, 2020 |
2020 Color Trends Survey - BD+C Photo courtesy Sherwin-Williams Coil Coatings

Photo courtesy Sherwin-Williams Coil Coatings


From pearlescent and iridescent coatings to highly accurate color-matching tools to programmable, color-changing LED lights, color is taking on a bigger and increasingly high-tech role on building projects. 

The widespread growth of colorized materials—from metal wall and roof panels to glass and glazing systems, to metal mesh assemblies—and the availability of custom colors across a broad range of product lines have provided architects and designers with almost limitless options for exterior and interior design projects. 

Technology tools like 3D modeling software and color-matching apps have taken much of the guesswork out of evaluating colors and color palettes for building design projects. And advances in manufacturing—from new textile printing methods to novel coating formulations—are leading to breakthroughs in hues, patterns, textures, and special effects in colorized materials and finishes. 

Given the “color craze” in architecture, it is no surprise that most design professionals believe that color plays a more-critical role in today’s building design projects than those from a decade ago. 


Findings from BD+C's 2020 Color Trends Report

Two-thirds of architects, interior designers, and color experts surveyed between December 2019 and March 2020 by Building Design+Construction for the 2020 Color Trends Survey said that color on design projects (interior spaces and exterior design) is more important today than it was a decade ago. And fewer than 2% believe color is less important. 

The growth in demand for color in the commercial, institutional, and multifamily building sectors is being driven by several converging trends. For one, clients are more willing to accept risk and variation on their projects, according to survey respondents.

“Especially for interiors, the story told by a color palette is crucial to creating an experience that can be differentiated from the norm,” said one architect respondent.

The rising cost of materials and construction is another important consideration: “Color is one of the easiest ways to add impact for the least amount of cost, thus more important today with the rising costs of everything.” 

The final PDF report of BD+C's 2020 Color Trends Survey includes data on:
- Innovations in color and colorized materials 
- Specification trends in color and colorized materials 
- Source of color expertise and inspiration in design firms
- The importance of color on today's building projects (interior and exterior applications)
- The importance of color in 2020 vs. 2010
- Reasons for the change in the importance of color on building projects
- Use of special effect coatings 
- Biggest innovations in color related to interior or exterior building design


Download the 2020 Color Trends Survey report (short registration required)


Special thanks to Sherwin-Williams Coil Coatings
for their support of this BD+C editorial research project.
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