CMF Finish Industry Expertise Material Trend

Finish Insight Dutch Design Week 2023

Finish Insight Dutch Design Week 2023

#DDW is a great place to discover designers and brands developing or working with fascinating finish effects. In previous years there has been a strong focus on matt finishes worldwide. After the pandemic, there is a renewed interest in tactile experiences and visual excitement. This year, super glossy and gritty surfaces stood out.

5 excellent designers and their dreamy CMF Colour Material Finish projects (clockwise from large image):

Rinke Joosten – Beautifully reflective textured detail of Momentum, a collection of blown glass objects.

Agnieszka Mazur – One of the wonderful finishes from the Memory of the Sea exhibition, a fantastic interplay of raw shells and shiny glue.

Renault x Sabine Marcelis – A masterclass in playing with transparency, gloss and colour in this reinvented Twingo concept car.

Cristina Nan – Poetic computer-generated clay surfaces that have a lower CO2 impact than concrete, steel or glass.

Studio Guilty – I immediately fell in love with these sophisticated gravel sculptures.

What’s your favourite from this selection?

Send an email if you need feedback/support on your brand’s CMF direction. I’m now open to discussing potential collaborations in 2024.

Industry Expertise Material Trend

Material Insight Dutch Design Week 2023

Material Insight Dutch Design Week 2023

#DDW is always an inspiration for material direction. This year I noticed more projects working with industrial and agricultural waste or simple raw materials. Designers showed that you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel to be innovative. This was an interesting change from previous years when there was more of a focus on new bio-composites. I found it fascinating how everyday materials were elevated to something aspirational.

Some of my favs (clockwise from large picture):

Studio RENS x Tarkett revealed the hidden side of linoleum. Such a clever way to update this often underrated material. Did you know that its main ingredients are linseed oil, pine resin, ground cork and sawdust, calcium carbonate and jute? 

Rik van Veen‘s sculptural bench made of welded plastic tubes was a real eye-catcher. A great example of how collectables don’t have to be made from precious or scarce materials. 

Studio WIES beautifully upcycled discarded vinyl tiles.  MATERIAL IDENTITY CRISIS’ was a fitting title. Vinyl is always defined by the texture it is printed on, as Wies van den Maagendberg points out. Lovely work seeing non-recyclable waste as a resource instead of sending it to a landfill.

Collectif MONO has made wool sexy. They used local wool from Swedish farmers. Felted qualities are naturally water-repellent. Unlike materials derived from fossil fuels, microfibres from sheep’s wool do not harm the planet. Fantastic to see more designers rediscovering the positive qualities of #undyed natural fibres. At Milan Design Week 2023 I was already raving about Formafantasma‘s research project for Tacchini on the benefits of working with (merino) wool. 

orange or red featured rattan in its purest form. I loved how it added texture and interest to this side table sculpture. Isn’t it beautiful how you can still see the wood texture through the transparent bright green glass? I have been a fan of designer Marieke van Heck ever since I saw her at Rossana Orlandi‘s gallery during Milan Design Week.

So to sum up, there is still a lot of potential to work with tried and tested, mundane materials. Another bonus is that recycling facilities are already in place for many of them.

Colour Industry Expertise

Colour Insight Dutch Design Week 2023

This is how we should think about the future of colour! Much more than just aesthetics – although aesthetics do have a very valid function as well. Such a wealth of colour innovation coming out of Eindhoven this year. To my delight, there was a high amount and quality of designers developing/working with natural and more sustainable colourants.

Some highlights (clockwise from large picture):

– Textiles, pigments and sunflower waste impregnation. The water-repellent sunflower coating retains the breathability. Designer: Jess Redgrave.

Why is it important?

The use of sunflowers could be a regenerative alternative to cotton. Cotton requires large amounts of water to grow, tends to deplete soils through monocropping, and is often heavily treated with pesticides. In addition, cotton can only be grown in certain parts of the world and often has to be transported over long distances.

– Circular varnish to protect wood made from harmless fungi and linseed oil. The fungi are nourished by the linseed oil and can even repair themselves if damaged. Designers: Frans Van Rooijen and @Michael Sailer

Why is it important?

Wood painted with chemicals often can’t be recycled. The toxic substances often end up in our natural environment. This bio-finish doesn’t harm the planet.

– Pigments derived from algae. You may have seen seaweed being used to dye textiles previously. ‘NORI PIGMENT’ was first shown at Milan Design Week in April this year. I missed it there. Now it was great to see the tile work at Dutch Design Week, which extended the initial research. Designer: Kaori Akiyama of STUDIO BYCOLOR.

Why is it important?

Algae are naturally abundant resources.

– Literally honeyed light to enhance your living space. Designer: Akira Nakagomi

Why is it important?

Using the inherent colour of materials is an important aspect of future-forward colour design. The designer also points out that honey can be used as emergency food because it can be kept at room temperature for a long time. It also has a sterilising effect and is thought to reduce inflammation when applied to wounds. Pretty sweet, eh? (pun intended)

– Using living bacteria as co-designers in block printing. I first saw ‘PRIMORDIAL PIGMENTS’, during Milan Design Week 2023, and when I saw it again, I just had to feature this beautiful project. Designer: Annelise Payne

Why it matters?

Microbial-based colour palettes that work with pigment-producing bacteria instead of conventional dyes certainly need to be explored more.

Bravo to all the mentioned designers!

Colour Industry Expertise Interior Design Material Trend

Dutch Design Week 2023 General Analysis

#dutchdesignweek is always one of the events that give me hope for people and the planet. Here designers are increasingly offering solutions to major global problems such as the waste pandemic, toxic pollution and social inequality. It is one of the most influential springboards for design graduates and new(er) design studios. This makes it a rich source of innovation. But the input can be overwhelming.

What is shown in Eindhoven is diverse. Design in all its forms is covered; from the ultra-conceptual to the commercially scalable, and from the personal to the systemic. For many, it is difficult to find the information and inspiration that is relevant to them. In my design consultancy work, I filter the insights for my clients (drop me a line if you are interested in this service).

It’s worth noting that Dutch Design Week has a reputation for being very concept-driven. However, #DDW23 was also surprisingly inspiring in a very tangible way. Woven through the indicators of emerging/growing macro and micro trends (tendencies in culture, technology, work, lifestyle, etc.) were many wonderful examples of where colour, material, finish and shape are heading. As my focus as a consultant is on interior design and CMF, I’ll be writing more about this in the coming days. I’ll also share more on key themes.

However, my verdict for this year is that several exhibitors tried too hard to load things up intellectually. This does not make the design more valid or accessible. Frankly, I question whether it’s an efficient design proposal if you have to read the full project description to understand what it’s about. Some have even topped this by expecting a high level of design/trend education from the reader.

In the coming year, I’d like to see more contributions to designing fair supply chains, creating local recycling facilities, and mending and repairing. It would also be great to see many more practical, affordable, robust yet sustainable solutions that make life easier for the millions of disadvantaged people around the world. Let’s face it, too much design innovation is focused on privileged audiences. It’s time to change that.

In conclusion, Dutch Design Week continues to be a leading event for learning more about global issues and design direction. I went there to broaden my horizons and the show made that possible. Soaking up fresh ideas, discovering cutting-edge aesthetics and meeting top creatives was a fantastic experience.

Colour Industry Expertise Interior Design Material Trend

Milan Design Week Report 2023

My Milan DESIGN Week REPORT 2023 is out! Carefully curated, it is a comprehensive yet compact summary of the key takeaways on colour, material, finish, style, shape, construction, design details, innovations and overarching themes.

I developed my report for brands/creatives who weren’t able to attend MDW themselves or don’t have the resources to distil relevant best practice examples. It features many quality brands, over 100 pages, with a minimum of 3 inspirational images on each page (1 page = 1 theme), in deliberate contrast to the many 200+ page reports that exist.

More time has been spent on selection/analysis to help brands quickly understand what really matters. Additional images are available on request and this report provides a valuable, solid basis for informed decision making.

Email hello(at) for your preview and all you need to know about how you can get my report.

Industry Expertise Trend

Analysis of Maison & Objet and Paris Design Week 2021

I didn´t spot completely game-changing innovation, however, for the trained design and trend-savvy eye, there were beautiful move-ons from previous themes and lovely touches of newness throughout the exhibitions. Most of the designs and colours shown I forecast two years ago.

At the press office at #MO21. Thanks for the excellent support dear M&O team!

Three major influences drive this slow-down:

– Brands have less money to spend due to the global impacts of the corona crisis or have shifted their budget more towards macro-trends rather than investing in design trend consultancy. However, really good design needs really good research – insight and inspiration are equally as important. The results are now vastly indistinguishable product lines.

– Brands are more risk-averse. Falling back to classics and cash cows is a common strategy in times of uncertainty. However, customers still expect a certain level of fresh input to be enticed to buy.

– Brands consciously stop pushing for newness for the sake of it as a response to heightened pressure for sustainable business practices. More informed than ever, customers reject greenwashing and expect real commitment and brands taking responsibility. We now see some brands showcasing the new collections alongside products of former seasons. This approach is more similar to the layering in most people´s homes. Reworking well-selling products to be ecological and creating fair working conditions for the people producing the goods and working within the delivery chains is a viable option. Moving forwards intersectional environmentalism is key for future-proofing businesses.

Hübsch Interiors smartly combining products of current and previous collections.

Overall, the fair and surrounding exhibitions were smaller and visited by a lot fewer international guests. The Maison & Objet fair team did well to drastically cut down on plastic waste and to make recycling easier than ever.

Reach out if you want constructive, straightforward feedback or my input on your design or trend projects.

Colour Industry Expertise Trend

Visions for Love 2021+

Let´s make celebrating love fully inclusive; not just on Valentine´s Day but all year round.

Did you know that the name is derived from Latin ‘valentia’ meaning strength or capacity?

14 February is often disliked by singles, people in unfulfilling relationships and happy couples not conforming to stereotypical norms alike.

In recent years we have seen the rise of #galentines celebrations – female friends gifting one another to express their non-romantic love. It´s a step moving forwards.

But there is still untapped potential for the gift and greetings industry to offer options outside of heteronormative clichés. We also have to do more than rainbow prints if we mean equality for the LGBTQ+ community.


‘MON AMOUR’ inspires us to think outside the box of gender assigned designs. This mood board gives romantic love between men a voice. However, the imagery is chosen to be welcoming to all; men, women, non-binary people with all their sexual preferences. Conceptions of female and male colours are challenged. Mauve tones, deep blues and reds ooze sophistication, whilst a pop of bold red amplifies the contemporary edge of this dreamy story.

‘YOU ROCK MY LIFE’ shouts out loud for love in various forms – from passionate and sexy to amicably asexual. The mood board opens us to the idea of gifting loved ones regardless if we are in a romantic relationship or not. Messaging is fun and cheeky. Gentle pinks – playing with warm and cool undertones – serve as background colours for clashing reds. Soft yellow adds an element of surprise in this vastly monochromatic colour scheme.

Have you noticed, that some of the nuances also feature in other trend stories I have created for 2021+? Using overarching colours ensures different collections work with each other. This approach is more sustainable, as it´s easy to integrate stock that did not sell the following season/year. If your brand values seasonless design then you will notice the benefits of smart colour combinations even more.

Send an e-mail to to talk about how I can inspire your brand on design and colour direction or finding the right narrative tone.

Image sources clockwise from top left: MON AMOUR Hotel Deux Gares designed by Luke Edward Hall 〰️ Jil Koehn 〰️ Hotel Il Palazzo Experimental 〰️ Lex Pott 〰️ Théo Tourne 〰️ Lottie Hall Stuio YOU ROCK MY LIFE Guía oca 〰️ Consches 〰️ Janine (Cortez) Ker 〰️ Kissmiklos 〰️ &k amsterdam 〰️ Fluide Beauty

Colour Industry Expertise Trend

RAL Colour Feeling 2021+

reThink stands for a humane use of colour which is easy to implement.

With reThink we are providing designers and architects with a 15-part colour space as a tool for future-oriented designs. The shades selected are very well-suited to product design/architecture and flexible so they can be adapted to a range of requirements.

The complete PDF of the current issue can be downloaded HERE.

Borders are increasingly blurring between our private and professional lives, action and regeneration, global and local issues. We therefore want to provide suggestions for designing these new interpersonal living spaces through corresponding colour combinations. We call the confrontation with the current topics of our times – in particular how we want to live and work in the future – and their colours reThink. The result is a colour world with the challenge to all designers to integrate it into their projects: CREATE!

The colours selected for this are based on the observation and analysis of social, technical and design trends over the last 50 years until today. However, the colour spectrum developed also refers to basic design categories and detailed studies regarding colour effect and colour perception. In addition to the visual function, the focus is also on the combination with sensual perceptions and cultural meanings of colours.

Our goal was not to define fixed trend colours, but to develop a current to sustainable colour profile, which creates design possibilities instead of reducing them.

The colour language of reThink has an inspiring and at the same time grounding effect. In a world view that increasingly appreciates sustainability, an easy combinability and longevity become key requirements for design. 

reThink encourages the creation of spaces and products that create long-term added value. The colour range invites you to feel, think, rethink and combine freely. Polarities – such as natural/artificial or monumental/filigran – complement each other in this unobtrusively inspiring colour space. Together with the RAL Design System plus this colour space is integrated into a complex colour system and can easily be expanded.

reThink is the impulse for a society where empathy and humane objectives are important. Wisdom from earlier cosmopolitan eras, such as the Renaissance, is combined with visions for a better future. In a networked and unpredictable world, we see an increased orientation towards values of mindfulness and holistic prudence.

The Slow Culture movement, which has grown out of the megatrends of neo-ecology, health and a new culture of knowledge, is focusing on greater appreciation of resources in the long term. Creativity and a creative drive are combined with a growing holistic sense of responsibility on a global and individual level.

Appealing colours and sensual surfaces create a positive relation to our surroundings.

Subtle, variable colours and sensual surfaces create a balance to the digitalization and sensory overload of everyday life. The range is characterized by a reserved, changeable colourfulness. Matt shades reminiscent of lime paint and chromatic shadowy tones create versatile applicable harmonies. Selected shade-in-shade combinations modulate empty spaces discreetly.

Thanks to mainly light to medium tonalities, the overall impression is light and yet solid. Materials inspired by clay, stone, loam and sturdy plasters provide strength and sensitive textures. By using light, transparencies and soft graduations an airy atmosphere is created. Despite being unobtrusive, surface and product designs appear imaginative, personal and approachable.

I was one of the CMF specialists, trend forecasters and also one of the two main editors on this project. Really loved this collaboration with RAL colours and IIT Institute International Trendscouting. All work was done fully remote. To guarantee colour accuracy, we all used RAL Design System plus original samples. Well done team!

We work globally and care about colour education: The trend report is available in English, German, Chinese, Spanish, French, Russian or Dutch for free. Share this info with anyone who should know about it. You can even download the colour palette as .ase files to easily integrate them into your digital workflow.

Head over to for insight, colour inspiration and the download links.

Colour Industry Expertise

Colour in Architecture

‘Form follows seduction’ as artist and designer Adam Nathaniel Furman so rightly updated the often misinterpreted ‘form follows function’, which led to a tremendous lack of understanding colour on a global scale. If you compare the curriculums of the vast majority of universities for architecture and design, you’ll notice, that colour is a side note if it is mentioned at all.

Did you know that colour is usually the first and most influential impression we have about any object? Roughly 85% of all purchasing decisions can be directly attributed to colour.

Why is it, that so many designers and architects shy away from colour apart from the monochromatic and standard material driven palettes they have become used to? If you ask me the truth isn’t just found in their appreciation for functionality. I don’t think every design needs to be purely functional. In my opinion, the reason is often, that you have to be a more knowledgeable creative to do maximalist designs well compared to minimalist ones.

Readily available information on colour theory and use is often too trivial and dogmatic for today’s complex world. Do a random search engine search and you’ll find out, a lot of the data is too simplified.

Therefore sticking only to black, grey, white and other so-called neutrals? We can often do better than that. Check out the marvellous feeds of extraordinary talents like Adam. Follow people who know how to work with colour professionally. Recommend those inspiring feeds to anyone you know, who could benefit from it.

After years of predominantly pared-back designs, colourful extravaganza is rising exponentially. Maximalism is boldly influencing the direction design will be heading in the years to come. Get prepared. The biggest trends in colour design currently are MORE colour and BRAVER combinations.

Have a look at for more details about his visionary work.

Images courtesy of ©Adam Nathaniel Furman.
Many thanks!

Industry Expertise Trend

Thanks but No Thanks

Sometimes you just have to say no. And if you’re working in the creative industries, chances are high you need to say no more often than many others during the span of your professional life. The Corona crisis has hit designers and innovators particularly hard. Many creatives are now struggling, even more, to get fair pay for their work. Panicking, they then often accept too low pay. In the long run, this is diminishing their prospects. What can we all do for a thriving creative industry?

Creativity and expertise deserve fair pay.

When you are a creative, many people you meet assume, that the work you do is always fun, or at least fulfilling and that you love doing it for the sake of it. After 13 years in the creative industries, I can confirm, that a disproportionately high number of creative professionals are extraordinarily passionate about what they do. Often overlooked is, that what they do is still their job and thus they need to earn money. After all, no one can pay for their living with verbal appreciation or exposure.

Why is the creative industry comparatively underpaid? Why is it assumed, that creative work should be done for free?

Many people working in the creative industries are not paid particularly well compared to their skillset, the level of education they have acquired to reach their position and the hard work they put in, to find work that values their time and effort. Reasons are manifold, however, there are three main points to consider: 

Supply and demand

There are simply more talented people out there willing to work in the creative industries than there are actual paid positions available. However, there is much more work done, than is paid. Read more on this further below.

Self-fulfilment needs

Many people working in the creative industries are placing more importance on personal fulfilment then monetary goals. Referring to Abraham Maslow, creatives over-index in the top of the ‘Pyramid of Needs’.

Creative work is often seen as a bonus

Despite the well-studied fact, that the majority of consumers invest in the most attractive product for them within their budget, it is still a widespread belief, that creative work is secondary to technical aspects of product design. Good design needs empathy, creative thinking, knowledge, visualisation skills and technical abilities. In this order. Why is this not reflected in the price paid for creative work?

Here are eight suggestions for what we can do as creative businesses/professionals to create fair working conditions for all creative professionals:

1. Pay interns.

Equal opportunities for people of all colours and backgrounds are often a problem related to the pay gap between men and women (and all non-binary people) and/or racial/ethnic/social discrimination. These issues already affect interns. Poor young adults and many counted to the ‘middle class’ can not afford to do unpaid internships and will, therefore, most likely never receive the same chances in the future. They also have fewer opportunities to focus on their studies during their education, as they often have to work side jobs to finance their education.

Do you own a business? Take responsibility and start paying interns, regular staff and freelancers a fair living wage for the area your business is located at. If you can not afford that, then you should not ask someone else to get the work done for you. Should you make a profit from the pay you owe others?

You think this does not apply to you, as you own a start-up or are just expanding your business? You would like to pay more, but you just can not? Is it fair for someone else to pay the price to build up your business? Be honest with yourself. Would you do the work you are asking for, for the price you are willing to pay if it was not your business? As a business owner, it is your job to provide funding for all the work done in your business.

2. Stop discrimination.

I am happy to see many global and local businesses now showing solidarity with the Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ movements. It has long been overdue that marginalised groups are afforded the same opportunities and justice. A fact is though, that in many regions there will be no applicants, that can be considered ‘black’, ‘coloured’, ‘non-binary’ etc. Often as a result of a lack of opportunities, but also because of demographical reasons. For instance, in my native Austria, there are only about 2% of the population, that can be considered as not ‘white’. The number of people discriminated is much higher though. See the bigger picture. Are there any applicants you have consciously or subconsciously discriminated previously? This can happen, but you can change that right away.

Just give all young, aspirational applicants a fair chance to make a living with their chosen profession, when you choose them for an internship or junior role. Interns are young professionals in education. An internship is not a school work experience week. Remember, the lower the monetary benefit, the more value you need to offer your interns.

3. Make more jobs available for graduates.

Also, stop fake internships. Graduates are not interns. If you want the skillset of a young professional, show them the respect they deserve and do not offer them an internship, but a fairly paid junior position. Everyone has got to start somewhere. Do you remember the person, that gave you your first real chance at work? I bet you do.

Now, maybe you have had to go through many unpaid and/or underpaid internships/first jobs yourself to get to your current position? I feel with you, but this should not hinder you to make your workplace a fair workplace.

4. Say no to underpaid work.

Recently, I was asked if I was interested to work on a project for my portfolio after I turned down a job offer. This is the polite version of saying for free. I was head-hunted of that same person for a different project due to my experience. The reason I did not consider a collaboration was, that my hourly fee was not matched. I am open to negotiating a package price, but I am not open to offer my senior expertise for the fee of a junior design consultant. Would you, unless it was for a charity? This, however, was supposed to be CMF work on the future of transport systems. Say no to work that does not pay enough for your level of skills.

5. Say no to unpaid work.

This is not a one-off experience though. Earlier this year, I had conversations with a well-established design blog for me to conceptualise, write and edit articles for them. My ideas were welcomed, but I had to ask the blog´s founder twice, how much would be paid per finished article. When he finally got around to answer it was: ‘We don’t pay contributors unless they bring advertorials. We give them access and visibility in front of millions of readers :)’ First of all, access and visibility do not pay my bills. Secondly, this publication does not reach an audience of this size. On top of that, some of my ideas were subsequently used of the blog after I told the founder, that I will not work for them for free.

6. Say no to work for your portfolio.

Occasions like these are standard for creative professionals all around the globe, especially, when they are/identify as female. One of the highly skilled people in my network from New York told me in our last video call, she has similar experiences. And ever since the outbreak of Covid-19 it gets worse. Recently, she was approached three times by different brands if she was interested in developing a colour concept for them for free (you guessed it, for her portfolio). Why would a design consultant with 15 years of professional experience in international colour trend forecasting need a project for her portfolio?

7. Know what your work is worth and demand it.

I love my job. But no matter how much I love my job, I am the only person responsible for providing for myself. Maybe this is not the case for you, maybe you receive financial support, maybe you inherited wealth, maybe you made enough money previously and you can afford to work for free. Please realise though, that this is not the reality most people find themselves in. If you work for free – unless it is for charitable reasons – then you effectively make it harder for everyone who needs to earn money with their work. Do you think that is okay?

No matter what position you find yourself in: Know what your work is worth, acknowledge that people need to make a decent living and do not settle for less. Even in times of Covid-19. This is self-care and the behaviour needed of all of us if we want a healthy industry to work in. If you personally don´t need the pay, donate it to people who do need money. Let us help each other in these tumultuous times instead of exploiting desperation.

8. Support each other.

Feel free to drop me a line if you have interned on any of the teams I worked with or if I was your coach/manager/mentor. I can write an honest recommendation for you on LinkedIn, as I am aware everything has gotten even harder for people at the beginning of their career these days. What can you do to make your industry inclusive and fair?