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News from ICI Paints Headquarters

July 4, 2005

I recently returned from a trip to Cleveland where I met with the progressive and talented folks at ICI Paints. There are so many exciting new developments going on there! First of all, I was pleased to hear from Dave Maurer who heads up their Dulux brand of products, that they are not only adding the Lifemaster Paints to the Dulux product line, but that soon, Lifemaster will have a product similar to the Dulux Velvet Sheen that I love so much. It will not only be solvent free, but also scrubbable! Concern with VOCs (volatile organic compounds) is growing. ICI was the first paint company to come up with a certified VOC-free paint. These paints are not only odor-free, but they also contain no solvents, which are the cancer causing agents that are dispersed into our atmosphere and the earth (i.e. agricultural crops). Also, ICI has refined their Advanced Alkyd line. This product is ICI’s answer to oil based paints which have recently been outlawed in most states. For most painters, paint falls into the category of “tools”, so I’m sure you’ve found painters have certain products that they insist on using. Most painters I know, like to use oil based paints on trim, as it is more forgiving since it dries so slowly. However, now that most all states have outlawed oil based paints, these ole’ dogs are going to be forced to learn some new tricks. I’m happy to report that the drying time for the Dulux Ultra Advanced Alkyd has been extended, making it much easier to use. In our humid climates down here in Louisiana, we’ve been using it with great success. When dry, it looks like Chinese laquer.

One of the most exciting parts of my trip was meeting the color team at ICI. Barbara Richardson, Director of Color Marketing for ICI Paints USA, took me on a tour of her department which was most impressive. She and Senior Color Consultant Krim Danzinger make a yearly trip to meet with color consultants all over the world to determine what the future color trends will be. Known as the “ColourFutures” team, they research everything from trade & retail exhibitions to design influences from the worlds of fashion, technology, music, nature and popular culture to forecast what color palettes will become popular the next year. From this, they also select a “color of the year”. For instance, orange was selected as the essence of 2005 as it “heralds a new beginning where we can adapt to the fast changes that are taking place in our environment, in security and in our own lives. Orange, known to be an anti-depressant color, helps celebrate optimism, sociability and fun.” (Please note this information was taken from the book they produce, Colour Futures International Colour Trends).

They selected the palettes and color of the year for 2006 last year and will soon be meeting to work on color forecasting for 2007. I’m excited to share that they gave me a sample of the color for 2006 which we are working on right now so that we can offer it in a full spectrum version. While it may be the newest “trend”, I have to say it’s a very beautiful classic “Chartreuse”, which is what I think we’ll call our version. When I told Barbara and Krim that our most popular color is our blue-green “Gustavian Grey”, they immediately took my sample of it and paired it with Chartreuse to show me how well they work together. They also hinted that blue may be a contender for 2007’s pick.

I had never been to Cleveland before, and had no idea what a nice city it is. I stayed at the Renaissance Cleveland, located in an an historic building recently renovated downtown on Public Square. It also houses the Sans Souci Restaurant, which I was told by their staff was recently voted one of the country’s top restaurants by Zagat. I highly recommend the spacious and well-appointed rooms of the hotel and the Mediterranean French cuisine (mostly seafood). My last night there, I dined with Color Consultant Lori Sawaya and her graphic designer friend/client Susan Graham. What fun finally getting to meet these two ladies in person who’ve been using our paints!

Just prior to leaving for Cleveland, I was interviewed by Elizabeth Olson for an upcoming article to appear in the New York Times! It’s going to be about “what’s new in paint” and will appear in their Sunday business section under “Sunday Money: Spending”. Don’t know exactly which Sunday or what they’ll say about us, but it’s all quite thrilling!

To return to our website: http://www.ellenkennon.com

To order samples: http://www.ellenkennon.com/ordersamples.htm

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