[EXCLUSIVE] We Speak To Jotun’s Colour Manager, Lisbeth Larsen, On How Culture Can Influence Colour

Imagine all the food shots you can take against this beautiful pink wall! Image credit: All Is Amazing

Text and Interview Yap Jin Wen, Aina Nur Sarah

There’s no denying that colour plays a huge role in our lives – it affects the way we look at things, inspires us and our moods. Colour too changes the ambiance of a room; think crisp, white walls in an office, blues in the comfort of our room and soft pastels at the latest hangout. The 2020 Jotun Colour Collection is filled with beautiful earthy tones.

As Jotun’s Colour Manager, Lisbeth Larsen is well acquainted with the whole colour spectrum and its effects. We spoke to Lisbeth on where she gets inspiration and how cultures may affect someone’s choice.


How long is the process of picking the colour of the year?

First of all – we never pick one colour of the year. The reason is that Jotun doesn’t want to dictate colours – we want to inspire and give many beautiful options. But to create colours for our yearly colour cards takes approximately 1 year –  this includes colours, photos and print.


Can you walk us through the process?

First part is all about selecting information and inspiration. We look at important happenings in the world – how will it affect the way we think? The way we behave? Then we look at bestselling colours in our different regions. The colour selection starts with input from designers and our regional colour managers. Normally we end up with about 50 colours which we need to reduce. After the final selection, our laboratory starts the important process of turning it into reality. This means making formulas and recipes for all the colours in different paint products. Lastly, time for photos and styling. We use some of the world’s best stylists and photographers to make sure our idea comes through!


Where do you usually get inspiration from?

People I meet. Places I see. Books and articles I read.


Jotun’s Colour Manager, Lisbeth Larsen


What kind of colours do you see most people in SouthEast Asia painting their houses?

Lots of muted tones, especially whites towards yellow. But lately I’ve noticed a bit more daring use of colours. Green of course – with all your lovely green surroundings, I easily understand that.


Because culture plays such a heavy role in SouthEAst asia, do you think it affects how people choose their colours?

Yes, I think so but that goes for everywhere in the world. Culture is a very important part of our lives – it’s what we grew up with, and what we feel safe about is important. But at the same time, it’s good to try some new things (read: colours) every now and then. It’s incredible what colours are able to provide!


You had to travel around the world to observe consumer behavior and purchasing decision trends before picking out the ‘colour of the year’, what happens if each country has very contradictory trends?

Good question, but so far that has not happened. People all over the world have something in common; they want a good life. We all try to do our very best to create and do as good as we can. More and more people see the importance of having a home where they can charge their batteries – relax and feel safe. Colours can help them! Also, with different web sites and social media we now know that the same tendencies hit all over the world at the exact same time!


Which countries do you usually travel to for your research? Is there a particular reason you choose those countries?

Malaysia, Vietnam, Turkey, Emirates, Denmark/Copenhagen, England/London. It differs a lot. I normally like to look at what architects are doing, I love to look at new hotels, I go to fairs and exhibitions. But also, to cold and strange places to look at our lovely nature! Nature might be my strongest inspirational channel.


The 2020 Colour Design by Jotun is filled with an array of earthy tones. Image credit: All Is Amazing


How has the colour trend changed throughout the last decade? And what does it say about the people?

We can easily see that people dare to use more colours. People these days know that it can help you through your daily life. Too much stress, bad sleeping habits and long working hours make people search for something else. The biggest change we see: If we go back 6-8 years ago people tend to ask “What is the trendiest colour?” Now they ask “What’s a good colour for a good night’s sleep?”


What new shades can we look forward to in 2020?

We will see a lot of muted yellows: Jotun 11173 Humble Yellow and Jotun 11174 Curious Mind.


If Malaysia was a colour, which colour would it be and why?

For me it’s green! All different hues – with your lovely lush palm-fringed coastline, I can’t see why it shouldn’t.