May  2004

Supplier Know-How
Advice for your Business

A Colorful World
Products Build a Shelter and Color Sells It
by Art Ramey

Imagine this world painted a dull gray. It doesn’t exactly conjure up pictures of a beautiful place, does it? In fact, it is pretty hard to imagine, and research has proven that a world constantly like this would be difficult, if not impossible, to live in day in and day out. 

People tolerate an occasional gray, rainy day knowing that soon the sun will be out and blue skies will extend an invitation to the outdoors. True enough, gray is a magic color, being the center point between white, the essence of all color, and black, the absence of all color. 

Just how does one know this? In 1676, when Sir Isaac Newton discovered a spectrum of color, later to become our first color wheel, he observed this spectrum through a prism. When he passed a thin beam of sunlight through a glass prism, Newton noted the spectrum of colors that was formed. The colors ranged from yellow/green to blue/green to violet, progressing to red and returning toward orange and ending in yellow (a total of 12 colors).
Perhaps none of this seems relevant to the reader who creates millwork products for the housing market, but think about the very first sentence carefully. “Imagine this world painted a dull gray.”

Color is Essential 
Color is essential to the well being of our society as we know it. It is a critical component in the creation of any millwork product that satisfies the eye while pulling all the other senses together regardless of if it is in a business or home setting. 

Today’s home décor market drives many industries, not the least of which is the building products distributor and dealer. Color truly drives any market—the food market, the clothing market, the automobile market, and, of course, the home décor market.

From the rich feel of brushed antique bronze in a door hinge to the graceful stature of a large, white 
dentil moulding adorning the entrance of a colorful home, color is vital to the visual and mental appeal of design, “proving that color sells and the right color sells it better.” This statement is actually the tag line for a group called the Color Marketing Group, made up of more than 2,500 members who gather twice yearly, not to “dream up” the next hot color, but to carefully track what colors have been doing in the past, are doing currently and are likely to do in the future. This careful tracking process ensures the introduction of the next successful palette of colors into each and every industry. 

White is Hot
An observant reader may notice that the description of one of the products was “the graceful stature of a large, white dentil moulding adorning the entrance to a colorful home.” You may ask the question, “Is white a color?” 
White is possibly the most important color in the palette. Remember that white is the essence of all color, and the eye perceives white as all color carefully blended together. Additionally, white is the color that always looks good no matter what companion color is placed beside it. This could be a reason the most popular color in window sash components, door frames and exterior trim moulding is bright white.

White is a Great Companion Color
The eye of the viewer sees white and is instantly satisfied with it as a perfect companion to whatever color, be it traditional red brick, natural stone, painted wood or colored vinyl. Have you ever noticed that an entrance door can have a rich woodgrain look and be surrounded by a door frame that is bright white? 

Instead of the eye getting confused, it is very satisfied with this combination. The white actually acts as a good transition between the warm woodgrain color and the soft yellow/green paint (one of the most popular new colors in outside paint) in the facings of the home or business.

One important challenge for the Association of Millwork Distributors (AMD) is to create classes that focus on training on topics, such as “How to Understand Color Theory,” and, more importantly, how to translate this use of color design into specific products created for the building products industry. 

The business of building products, distributors and dealers is to create not just a sellable product, but also one that adds so much value and individuality that the consumer is unable to refuse buying it.

In an industry as large as millwork, it may be essential to begin to ask important questions, such as “What is the next color after white?”


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