Crossing cultures and continents, national borders and language barriers, age brackets and social categories, the project is one of the most ambitious and wide-ranging investigations into colour preference ever conducted, and the insights it will generate, have the potential to change the way we think about colour forever.
The world’s favourite colour will be determined by thousands of people from all over the planet – and one of them will be awarded the unique privilege of having their name immortalised in Colorplan, the G . F Smith flagship paper range.
Colour has of course been inextricably woven into the history of G . F Smith since 1936 when the first shade of its Colorplan range was produced. In the 80 years since that game-changing paper collection has grown to include 50 shades and become the benchmark collection for the creative industries of Britain and beyond.
Looking back over the archives, many of the colours selected for inclusion seem to hold up a mirror to the times, capturing the spirit of the age. The range evolved from the ‘Smoke’, ‘China White’ and ‘Bagdad Brown’ of the interwar years to the bold and bright pops of ‘Vermilion’ and ‘Mandarin’ as TV sets across Britain exploded into colour in the 1960s, followed by the muted tones of ‘Mist’ and ‘Stone’ as the 1970s backlash against ’60s psychedelia placed more emphasis on the natural environment.
But what colour are we now? Is there a shade that reflects the globalised world of the 21st century? A colour for the age of digital communication, transnational culture, democratised manufacture, resurgent populism and crowdsourced creativity?
Ben Parker, Creative Director & Founding Partner at Made Thought, said: “No longer limited to a local or national poll, our ambition was to ask a global audience through social media. Colour is believed to be the most important visual experience to human beings, and so this project aims to get people to think about colour and the importance of it in our lives.”
G . F Smith’s mission is being supported by figures from across the creative world, who will each be sharing their own favourite colours through a series of short films released over the course of the campaign.
With representatives from the arenas of art, fashion, design and architecture, the participants include Mulberry creative director Johnny Coca, fashion designer Osman Yousefzada, designer Bethan Laura Wood, architectural foodsmiths Sam Bompas and Harry Parr, artist Richard Woods, hair stylist Sam McKnight and artist Camille Walala.
Each of them will reveal how colour informs their life and practice, consider what shapes their own preferences and the impact it has on how they view the world around them.
After three months of international data gathering – ending March 2017 – the most popular colour will be unveiled at the ‘Paper City’ exhibition in G . F Smith’s home city of Hull, as part of its City of Culture 2017 celebrations in July.
The World’s Favourite Colour will be permanently introduced into G . F Smith’s Colorplan range, and will bear the name of the survey respondent that picks the shade closest to the overall favourite. As well as the honour of having the most popular colour in the world named after them, the winner and a companion will be invited to G . F Smith’s mill in the Lake District to watch their paper being produced, and take home a full suite of personalised stationery in their eponymous colour.
This 51st Colorplan shade will be available for use by designers, brands and individuals via gfsmith.com immediately after the July 2017 announcement.