Dulux's colour of the year has been announced - it's divisive and unexpected

It’s an unexpected choice - one might have expected a brighter tone post-lockdown as people look to make their homes cheerful

Brave Ground has greyish tones but is unmistakably brown
Brave Ground has greyish tones but is unmistakably brown

Paint brand Dulux revealed its colour of the year for 2021 this morning, and it is what can only be described as brown. A soft, earthy, claylike brown with greyish tones named Brave Ground, to be precise - but, unmistakably, brown. 

On the face of it, it’s an unexpected choice, given the colours and patterns that have been in fashion in interiors of late, which have tended towards bright and bold or pastel-hued - one might have expected more of the same post-lockdown, as people look to make their homes cheerful and uplifting.

Then again, the point of colour predictions such as these is not to tell us what we have in our homes right now, but what we might want in the months to come. 

This colour was in fact chosen just over a year ago by a team of experts and influencers in design and technology, yet, even after the upheaval of this year, Dulux chose to stick with it rather than come up with a new, post-Covid colour prediction.

A lick of Brave Ground paint

As its creative director, Marianne Shillingford, puts it: ‘Lots of trend forecasting starts on the catwalk, then goes on to car colours and sofas, and although we do that, in the last five years, the discussion has turned from tangible stuff we were buying, to “us”.  

That ended up with colours that were far more resonant and more commercially successful, because people wanted those colours on their walls.  

She also points out that the idea of a ‘colour of the year’ is not necessarily to cover a whole room with it, but to combine it with other shades: ‘I call this a supporting colour,’ she says. ‘It’s the Mother Nature of colours, it nurtures others and lets them shine.’

With pale greens and blues its cooler side comes out; with other neutrals it looks warm and cosier. With brighter colours such as pink or red, it has the effect of toning them down, and  looks, somehow, less 1970s lounge than the word ‘brown’ suggests. 

There’s no denying, however, that brown, in any shade, is a divisive colour. So how will it be received?

‘We’ve got it right particularly for the last few years, and I think we’ve got it right again,’ says Shillingford.

‘It’s an easy-to-use colour that works with everything, so it’s a more natural transition from grey into something more organic and natural. I think that’s what we want.’