6 Designers Respond to Sherwin-Williams’ 2020 Color of the Year

This past September, Sherwin-Williams announced their 2020 color of the year: a rich, celestial blue, called Naval. With a deep, sapphire-like quality, the hue is reminiscent of the night sky and deep sea, and is sure to set a number of trends as the first color of the year for a new decade.

We spoke with design professionals Gideon Mendelson, Founder of Mendelson Group, Mary Maydan, Founder and Principal of Maydan Architects, Orion Creamer, Founder of Big Chill, David Shove-Brown, Principal and Co-founder of //3877, Aerin Lauder, Founder and Creative Director of AERIN, and Tristan Auer, Principal at Wilson Associates’ Paris, about their thoughts on Naval, and how they expect it to impact residential interiors for the next year.


ASPIRE: What tone do you think Naval conveys?

Gideon Mendelson: “It really depends on what you pair it with. Steel greys and camels would create a very handsome starting point for a sophisticated study. Reds and chalky whites would make for a fun child’s room.”

Tristan Auer: “Naval blue is a very masculine color and is not always an easy one to integrate it into an interior. Using this color combined intelligently and thoughtfully with other tones reminds me when this shade was at its peak popularity in the 1980s.”

ASPIRE: What do you think is the best way to use this color?

Mary Maydan: “I can see Naval becoming the new gray. We love it as a replacement for dark gray which has become too banal and overused. When looking for a bold color, dark gray is unoriginal and black can be too harsh. In our recent projects, we frequently used midnight blue, “Naval” as Sherwin-Williams calls it as our go-to color to make a statement. Naval blue is classy and chic. It is ideal both as a cool color that instills calmness and as a design statement. It is a great color for a rug, an accent wall or accessories such as throws, pillows and even chaises and poufs. Dark colors usually work better in large spaces but naval can work well in both small and large spaces. However, we find that dark blue looks best in sunlit rooms with windows facing South. Naval is incredibly versatile and pairs beautifully with neutrals and bright colors. You can go classy and chic or chic and fun, energizing, and youthful.”

ASPIRE: From a design perspective, what is most appealing to you about a color this rich?

Mendelson: “It’s extremely versatile. Use it on the walls for a dark, moody vibe. Apply it to trim to accent a softer tone, for a graphic effect.”

ASPIRE: It’s been mentioned that previous Color of the Year picks have typically been bright and trendy, does the selection of Naval surprise you?

Orion Creamer: “Naval is in line with many of the design trends we’re seeing across the marketplace, which is seeking design concepts that imbue a steady sense of calm. Blue tones have long instilled a sense of calm, but Naval evokes an ambiance that is more than that, it’s refined.”

ASPIRE: Sherwin-Williams’ director of color marketing said this choice shows a continued “move away from omnipresent neutrals.” Is navy the new neutral?

David Shove-Brown: “The color is beyond a neutral. It’s rich and has depth. It’s calm and deep at once.”

ASPIRE: Is navy blue a color you’ve used frequently in the past? (either from client’s requests or as your own choice?)

Aerin Lauder: “Blue and white is part of my decorating DNA. My grandmother, Estee, loved blue and white, which you could see in everything, from the way she decorated her homes to the packaging of her perfume and cosmetics. My style is very classic, but the ways that I incorporate shades of blue are unexpected and modern. My library in New York is a deep blue and it’s the most warm and inviting space in our home.”

ASPIRE: If you were to select one room in the home that you think Naval makes the most sense in, what would it be and why?

Creamer: “Naval is a great color for the kitchen. It’s as eye-catching as it is neutral. The color’s impact can be accomplished in a number of ways, but perhaps is best visualized on kitchen appliances, infusing a rich dose of sophistication that is only further emphasized by thoughtfully curated metallic detail work.”

ASPIRE: If you were using Naval as your primary color in a new design, what other colors or materials would you pair it with?

Mendelson: “There are so many ways to go with this color. I’d like it paired with steel greys, and camels with shots of olives, ochres and mustard yellows.”

ASPIRE: Naval is the first Sherwin Williams Color of the Year for a new decade. What other style trends do you expect to see in the 2020s?

Maydan: “I think that along with Naval, 2020 will continue to be a year of pastels and soft colors. Dusty pink, dusty lilac – everything dusty is definitely here to stay for a while.”

Photos courtesy of Sherwin-Williams.

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