The popular colors coming to your home: green (it’s healthy), blue (it’s comfortable), grey (fits with stainless steel appliances)

The president of the Color Marketing Group discusses what colors are popular for homes today:

A small example: A while back we looked at the emerging interest (in the United States) in herb gardening, as it moved from suburban yards into urban areas. (We thought consumers) would find themselves relating closer and closer to herbal green colors in general. And yes, there has been an uptick in attraction toward this “healthy” green in the past few years. People find themselves saying, that would be a nice hue for my home.

About a year ago, CMG predicted that blue would dominate color movement for the next several years. This can show up in clothing fairly quickly, but in some industries, such as the auto industry, that can take a few years.

We picked blue to grow because people perceive it as stable and comfortable, reflecting how they’re more likely looking at their world these days. However, tastes in blue are moving away from denim and indigo: The actual CMG color of the year was a midrange one we called Re-Blued, which works with lots of colors of the palette, from warm to cool…

Seriously, though, gray is coming because so many of us have stainless-steel appliances in our kitchens. That has led to a gray movement in the kitchen. It’s in paint, but we see it in cabinets in stains over wood or in painted gray finishes. Or it shows up in accent colors — people look at driftwood gray and say, that’s a color I can live with for a long time. Europeans may change their kitchens every two or three years, but Americans live with their kitchens a lot longer.

Plus, gray is new — it’s a color that’s not anything that a generation before has seen in kitchens.

This is a good reminder of how while homeowners might think their furnishings and design choices are an expression of their individual tastes, choices are often shaped by an industry that wants to sell products and what these products mean. Colors and design choices run in cycles – remember those harvest gold appliances? – but consumers may not be behind much of this.

It is interesting to see green pick up steam because it is perceived as healthy. I wonder of how much this is related to it being natural as well: plants, trees, vegetables, healthy walls.

A sociologist offers a short history of dieting

If you partake of any advertisements in any media form, you will inevitably hear pitches for different kinds of diets. Eat less carbs! Count your points! Take this pill! Get this exercise machine! These sorts of diet pitches are not just a recent phenomenon; a sociologist suggests our ideas about dieting stretch back several hundred years.

Thin has been in much longer than most of us realize, says Ellen Granberg, an assistant professor of sociology at Clemson who studies the history of weight loss…

Moderating the experts will be David Kirchhoff, president and CEO of Weight Watchers International. His organization is just about 50 years old, but Granberg says the very first documented “weight watcher” was an Italian guy in the early 17th century who took notes about his caloric intake and weighed himself daily on a crude scale.

Diet and exercise really took off in the mid-19th century in Europe and migrated over to the U.S. by the 1890s. Why then? Granberg suspects it has to do with the introduction of commercially developed food. And early health gurus, including Sylvester Graham (of eponymous cracker fame), were worried from the get-go about adulterated products.

What Granberg finds most surprising is that modern diets look a lot like the first ones. People were eating low-carb in the 19th century, way before Atkins came along. Sweets were shunned. Just about the only slimming method you won’t hear about today is the suggestion that you smoke cigarettes.

To Granberg, this history proves weight loss has never been easy — and it may never be. “The idea that there is a single, perfect plan is a very old idea. People were thinking about this in the 1600s,” she says. “But it’s always difficult and frustrating. It’s not the fault of the individuals struggling.”

It is interesting to note that the rise of diets in the 1800s seems linked to particular products, such as Graham crackers or corn flakes, that their makers deemed healthy. I wonder if this sociologist could comment on  how much ideas about dieting are tied to capitalism and making money.

And for those who dieted in past histories, which segments of the population were interested in this? Was it a widespread movement or did this come later with the rise of mass media?