• Benjamin Fisher

A New Bronze Age? Sherwin William's Color of the Year rises from a decade of Stone Age Grays.

Sherwin William's color of the year for 2021, Urbane Bronze, heARKens toward a growing trend of earthy, neutral colors of organic nature and overall warmer hues.

This stands in stark contrast to the more inanimate, cold and achromatic shades of gray that have dominated architectural design for nearly two decades.

Is this the beginning of a new 'Bronze Age'? One also born from a more brutal, even colder 'Stone Age' whose steely nature is no longer desirable in this, a new AC, or Anno-Covid, era??

The Commander of Color in Construction

Our favorite color will always be Purple, or to be exact, Sherwin Williams' 'African Violet', otherwise known as RGB 102,83,133 / Hex #665385. A series of numbers forever etched in my memory. l however, prefer to keep it simple, 'lavendARK'. Nevertheless, I still look forward each year to seeing what color Sherwin Williams' will announce as its color of the year. In reality, every paint manufacturer from Benjamin Moore to PPG, and everyone in between each market their very own "color of the year" but for us in construction, the only one that matters in Sherwin's.

Earns nearly 1 Billion Dollars (yes, a B); no one knows how

Pantone, based out of New Jersey, is a fascinating company that generates massive revenues simply combining palettes of colors that are themselves conceivably as old as there were living creatures with eyeballs to view them. Yet somehow they remain incessantly relevant; proof of which is their "Color of the Year" is the only other one worthy of note. And noteworthy it always is. Their application however is much broader in comparison, encompassing all disciplines of design from cosmetics and beauty, to fashion, industrial and graphic design, and of course, architecture. Even so, a consistent, often mirrored, or temporally interchangeable relationship still exists between the two. as they both offer a glimpse into the current or existing cultural and sociological currents that all designers, regardless of their medium, all pull from and are inspired by.

Color & Covid

Without exception, the global pandemic and devastation wrought by Covid-19 have certainly dominated those same cultural and sociological currents unlike any other world event since 9/11. No other event has so drastically changed the way we live, work, and play in the past decade more so than the Covid-19 pandemic. It is unquestionably going to influence the way designers choose to represent their concepts and exhibit their emotions. For those of us concerned with the built environment that translates more so to the emotions we wish to imbue upon those who inhabit the spaces we design. With how we want a space to "feel".

Amid stay-at-home orders and social distancing protocols, our homes have become a symbol of sanctuary like never before.

Home Habitat

I often refer to the "stay-cation" effect that was born from the tragic events of 9/11 and which gave rise to the influence and popularity of HGTV and its eventual hegemony over interior design trends. But let me touch more on that in a future post I'm working on exploring the post-Covid potential for communities such as Princeton and Sterling, Illinois; that is if we ever reach a "post"-Covid world... While its impact on the construction industry might be similar, the pandemic's influence on design will manifest itself in a manner we could not begin to predict.

A veritable "Stone Age" in the history of design, gray has dominated our color palette since the dawn of the new millennium.

50 shades of Gray

Gray (or grey, or gris, or grigio); however you call it, it's everywhere! On walls, in casework, on floors, solid surfaces, facades, decking... If it's a building product or a finish of any imaginable application, you can find it in gray. Even when it stands in stark contrast to the intrinsic nature of the material itself.

Worn out Wood

Take wood, one of the most common building materials with literally limitless applications in the building envelope. Regardless of the manner in which it is perceived; tactilely, aromatically, visually or even audibly, wood is revered for its richness and depth. Today, however, the stained finishes fetching the highest dollar look as if it was collected after having washed up on some distant shore; only to be baked bone-dry in the heat of some tropical sun. The very processes which would in nature result in such a finish would rob it of all the qualities we typically adore it for.

Tired Tile

So too has the light and delicate, even fragile, nature of porcelain or ceramic tile been coerced into donning the appearance of material quite different from that of its origin. It seems every tile manufacturer now offers some sort of ceramic or porcelain tile made to look like concrete, in ever-larger formats previously not seen in tile manufacturing.

Will Gray Stay?

One thing is for certain though; gray isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. One must only search, “Is gray still popular in 20xx?” and simply count back the years when thousands of people have asked the same question year after year all the while the answer has remained steady as ever, yes. Grays stranglehold on the color palettes of designers everywhere is too strong and while it may ease its grip a bit, the qualities that made gray such an invaluable, and personally beloved design tool remain just as relevant today as they ever have.

It's versatility as a neutral is simply unparalleled.

Its timeless quality has appeared in infinite manifestations of design since antiquity yet it's mere presence alone imbues a sophistication that is altogether modern regardless of time itself.

Ironically it's the subtle gray undertones in Urbane Bronze itself that bestow upon it the very apparent modernity which makes it such a great color choice for this pivotal moment in our history. It is a combination of this austere modernity coupled with the organic hues relative to materials both in their natural and built environment alike that will set this New Bronze Age in motion.

Part two of this post will elaborate on gray's place in a post-Covid world while exploring the new colors and hues which will stand in its place to signify the coming decade in this, the "New Bronze Age."

Ahead of the Game!

ARK adopts New Bronze Age before the first cast was smelted!

Without even realizing it; we've already begun incorporating this trend into our design practice. As part of a larger master design and plan for a new campus headquarters in Dixon, Illinois we were first tasked with an exterior restoration of the original structure on the site.

The building, constructed in 1986 is a unique backsplit structure with a clerestory roof that commands your view when entering the city from the East along Highway 38.

Click on any of the images below to see the full story on how ARK Building Solutions utilized the Color of the Year before we even knew it was!

Not only that but our other decision on color for the siding is entirely reminiscent of 2019's color of the year!

A true love for what we do coupled with persistent research and attention to industry influences means our fingers are always on the pulse of current design trends!

Already Sold?

Get the Look Here!

Check out these 'Selections from the Studio' and be sure to give us a call if you're interested in bringing the "New Bronze Age" into your home or office.



Rehau's Revisio Crystall is perfect for the minimalist. Fingerprint resistant, even in a matte finish!!!


It's never too early to start planning next year's BBQs! Our urban and suburban models both have strong ties to our Bronze Age palette.

ARK's newest partner Urban Bonfire offer several finishes for their outdoor kitchens perfect for a Bronze Age Roast!