It’s official: flush the blush and prepare to get mellow with yellow
Words: Rosemary Mac Cabe
Say hello to Gen-Z Yellow, a colour – and lifestyle choice – first spotted in the latter months of 2017, by none other than taste-making website, Man Repeller. In a feature titled, Move Over, Millennial Pink – There's a New Sherriff in Town (yes, the shade that festoons velvet chairs in every new restaurant opened in 2017) writer Haley Nahman pronounced the death of said pink and the emergence of what she termed Gen-Z Yellow – “something sunnier... a changing of the generational tides.”
Danish design brand Normann Copenhagen saw the shade sea-change too, creating an entire showroom exhibition in 2017 around the hue and sending out a press release that trumpeted, “one thing is crystal clear: yellow is the new pink.”
The name comes from Generation Z – the generation of young 'uns who come after millennials, although the exact dates are up for debate. Some schools of thought say Gen-Zers are those born in 2005 or after; others push the date back to 1995. Either way, they're the young taste-maskers of the future, so we'd do well to pay attention – especially now as the shade is inching its way into interiors.
As colours go, Gen-Z Yellow is less defined than you'd think; it's more an umbrella term which includes a variety of shades, from buttermilk to mustard, all the way through to the bright turmeric yellow we've seen popping up in the hippest of oat-milk lattes. (Perhaps this is the Millennial equivalent of seeing the future in the tea leaves.)
In terms of colour psychology, in layman's terms, Gen-Z Yellow calls to mind optimism, enthusiasm, cheerfulness and a warmth that was hinted at in Millennial Pink's sweet, cloying, romantic softness. “Gen-Z is growing up,” says Erika Woelfel, a colour expert with Behr Paints. “Yellow represents vitality and ambition, traits we're seeing in this upcoming generation of taste-makers.”
For the Irish audience, caution is advised. Interior designer Eily Roe of Eily Roe Interiors says that, in large amounts, “while yellows can be seen as sunny, they can be terribly overpowering on a winter's day.” “You need a sunny environment to really show it off – you need to be in the south of France or in Spain.”
But all is not lost – in smaller amounts, in specific shades and rooms, the Gen-Z Yellow dream truly is an achievable one.
5 yellow trend tips
As yellow penetrates the home consciousness, here’s how to work it into your scheme...
1 Art attack
Brighten up an otherwise neutral space with some Gen-Z-inspired wall art. The key to truly allowing your art to make a statement is to go bold – opt for bright shades and graphic designs.
2 Softly, softly
Soft furnishings can be the perfect way to test the waters – before you take the leap and make a big investment. A few mustard cushions or a buttery yellow throw won't break the bank but they'll give you an idea of how the shade looks in your home.
3 Bed down
Bedcovers are a zero-commitment way to try your hand at Gen-Z living. One week, you're all yellow; the next, you're back to your tried-and-trusted nautical stripes.
4 Light it up
The ‘90s did a great job of putting us off yellow-toned bulbs, but a yellow lamp can add a gorgeous warmth to a room and, even when it's turned off, the bright shade will add a fun optimism to an otherwise cool palette.
5 Go big (and go home)
One of the most noticeable iterations of Gen-Z Yellow comes in sofa form. Rich tones of gold, apricot and cadmium pop against white, grey, purple and blue backgrounds. It seems like a risk, but, in fact, yellow is one of the most versatile shades, working well with modern and traditional styles alike.