Consumers are drawn to the simplicity of the past, to designs that have a timeless character. Here are five palettes that speak to that trend.
Folk refers to the traditional culture, art, music, and practices of a particular group of people, usually living in rural areas. It is, in many ways, a catch-all term for anything considered to be pre-industrial.
In design, folk is having a moment, with the homespun aesthetic cropping up across interiors, runways, and more.
It’s no surprise that a simpler way of living holds nostalgic appeal during a global pandemic, with more consumers leaning towards products and design choices that feel comforting.
Cottagecore became an aesthetic trend over 2020, with young consumers finding escapist refuge in craft and domestic activities, such as crochet, gardening, and bread-making.
While some people saw the trend as a larger social protest against capitalism and climate change, others simply thought of a peasant dress or evening embroidery as a welcome distraction from the weirdest year in living memory.
Of course, the folk design trend has been building for quite some time now, taking from other related lifestyle trends such as hygge (the Danish word for a feeling of coziness), lagom (a Swedish word that means “not too much, not too little,” a philosophy that promotes a balanced, moderately-paced life), and the Contemporary Craft movement taking place in the furniture design industry.
Other design fields, including interior design and fashion, have been quick to respond to the surge in interest around craft and folk design. So, today the most urban city-dweller can now furnish their apartment with folkloric textiles and hand-crafted ceramics, and purchase crocheted knitwear from main-street shops.
Despite the commercialization of folk, an aesthetic that’s meant to be anti-modern, it hasn’t lost its integrity. Rather, it’s become a salve for our cultural anxieties.
And, designers are reimagining the folkloric aesthetic for this anxious audience with results that feel surprisingly contemporary.
Designer Isabel Marant, for instance, created a Fall 2021 collection that blended a folkloric aesthetic with sci-fi references, clashing high-shine fabrics, and cottagecore-worthy prints to create an unlikely but potent mix of nostalgia and futurism.
It seems we’re looking back as a way to look forward.
While the folk design trend signals a desire for consumers to return to honest, simple values, the upcoming iterations of folk are nonetheless distinctly modern.
What’s more, floral or animal motifs combine with these rich colors to create fantastical woodland scenes.
Because folk colors were traditionally created using natural dyes, the colors are rich and deep. However, they don’t have the ultra-vivid brightness more common in digital designs.
Red and blue are probably the most common and distinctive colors used in folk-inspired color schemes.
The key to using folk colors successfully in designs is to balance both simplicity and playfulness. Don’t be afraid to combine several rich colors together, but anchor the scheme with neutral tones of white and black to give folk palettes their grounded personality.
In the meantime, check out five FREE color palettes inspired by folklore . . .
Five Free Color Palettes Inspired by Folk and Fairy Tales
Simplicity and coziness are at the heart of folk-inspired color schemes. Earthy undertones temper bold hues of red, blue, green, and yellow to make these colorful schemes surprisingly chic and versatile.
Traditional folk palettes are also often anchored with neutral tones of black, white, and gray, to create crisp contrast and highlight the shape of patterned illustrations or borders.
Palette 1: When You Go Down to the Woods
Folklore and fairy tales are often set in woodlands, mysterious places at the periphery of traditional villages that host a range of magical creatures—elves, trolls, giants, etc.
This ethereal palette combines a mint green with a glowing pale green for a magical backdrop to the earthy quality of deep brown-red. Gray-white then creates freshness and contrast.
Palette 2: Nest Egg
An elegant and stylish take on the folk aesthetic, this palette looks to red and white—a common color combination used in folk textiles—to create a cozy, yet graphic, color scheme.