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Why has tone-on-tone become so popular?

Posted on: 27 May 2019

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It's all over social media: tone-on-tone and harmonious combinations in every conceivable colour. Bla Station has come up with a beautiful combination. It is a sofa with a soothing combination of burgundy and rusty brown. But it is equally striking in greens and yellows. From emerald to grass green, from sunflower yellow to ochre. These combinations all have one thing in common: on the colour spectrum, they all belong to the same family, or in NCS terms, to the same colour triangle. But why has tone-on-tone suddenly become so popular, and why do we have to take it into account?

© Bla Station

Calm in eclectic times
The first reason is obvious. Today's interiors are so overloaded with various styles and prints that there is an ever-growing need for calm. And harmonious combinations create calm. On the other hand, contrasting colours are stimulating and sometimes even annoying. By choosing colours from the same colour triangles in the NCS ATLAS, you can create bucketloads of calm. First of all, I refer to the colour circle. I look for nice harmonies in the triangles. The advantage of the NCS Atlas (mine is already a few years old, but it is still up to the job) is that the colours are dependable. Printed books are a concoction of CMYK, and for that reason are never as accurate.

© Niek De Prest

Oh so Instagrammable
Bla Station is not the only designer to love tone-on-tone. Anyone who searches on Instagram or Pinterest will find lots more examples. Usually fine examples. This is where we come to a second explanation. Tone-on-tone looks great in photos. Just take a look at the Anna Church photos below. As Instagram is one of the trendsetting platforms, more and more attention is being paid to the 'instagrammability' of the design. In other words, first and foremost a product must look good on Instagram and Pinterest. The reason is obvious: more and more people are looking for ideas on these platforms. Millennials are even more influenced than boomers by trends that they spot on social media. You should always bear that in mind.

© Anna Church

Risk-free personalisation
A third reason for this success is the ease with which you can personalise them. And when it comes to personalisation, the NCS ATLAS is my bible. Choose a colour triangle, pick up the Design Masks, and you're on your way. By staying with the same saturation or grayscale, you are also certain to find a successful calming combination. It is also a good way of incorporating trend colours. To do this, you set about it the other way round. Start with the trend colour and look for a combination that creates the image you want. But always remember: to create an image, it is always better to work with combinations than with an individual colour.

© Niek De Prest

Propose combinations more often
The future belongs to those who propose the right combinations. Let there be no mistake about that. And to those companies who get their customers dreaming with photos of real-life applications. Combining colours is a tough job, that often goes wrong if you try too hard to be creative. Look again at the simplicity of Anna Church's photos. She keeps the colour range tightly under control. She combines by starting with a trend colour and supplementing it with neutral tones. Guaranteed success.

© Anna Church

Promote cross-selling
Those who have discovered the power of tone-on-tone are on their way to more: more sales, more peace and quiet, more added value, more visual branding, ...

For a sofa, you need the right cushions, for table linen, you need the right accessories, etc. In bed, in the bath, on your smartphone, literally everywhere, tone-on-tone leads you to more products that you can use to decorate your interior with style. So establishing a colour image always leads to more. Literally, it sells.

Perhaps the only drawback is that you have to find your colour. And of course, occasionally you have to shatter the calm with an accent, a counter-colour or a bold statement. A question of stimulating or being stimulated.

Niek De Prest

Trend Analyst & Business manager @ Bigfish

Niek De Prest

Niek De Prest has been working as a trend analyst and communication expert since 2005. Her trend projections are mainly related to the world of technology, innovation and life style. Niek de Prest is business manager of BigFish, a dynamic company which turns trend analysis into down to earth business strategies and effective communication.

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