Benjamin Moore’s Sharon Grech Talks Colour Of The Year (And The Mystery Behind Choosing Paint Names)

Sharon Grech is the Colour & Design Spokesperson for Benjamin Moore and Regular Décor Expert on CITY’s Cityline. We recently had the opportunity to speak with her for a behind-the-scenes perspective on choosing Benjamin Moore’s Colour Of The Year.

What is the history behind Colour Of The Year? How did this annual selection come about?

Benjamin Moore has a long history of colour trend research; in fact, the company was creating trend cards for professionals in the 1960s. To satisfy the needs of an emerging colour-savvy retail market, Benjamin Moore created their first Colour Trend card in 2002. Media interest in one colour that would symbolize the zeitgeist of the time was a leading catalyst for Benjamin Moore’s first Colour Of The Year for 2006, Asphalt CC-548.

What goes into selecting a Colour Of The Year and what is your personal role in that process?

The process is an evolution that occurs over several months, with research trips to global and local design fairs and design hot-spots such as Paris, Milan, London, New York, and Toronto. As a member of Benjamin Moore’s Colour Innovation and Design Team, I contribute with findings from my travels and other colour research, as well as participate in round-table discussions with the full team.

Benjamin Moore’s Creative Director has the job of reigning in our team’s discoveries and pulling out that elusive thread that makes the colour story unique every year.  Supporting her conviction for 2016, the white story was something that each member of our team brought to the table in different ways, with evidence from across industries, from automotive to tableware. We often come across white in our journeys, which is no surprise, but unlike other years we couldn’t simply dismiss it as “only white.” This year, white really wanted to be noticed!

What was it about Simply White that made it a frontrunner?

Once the decision was made that white would be our hero colour for 2016, the search was on for the “right white.” We wanted a clean white that wouldn’t feel sterile, and a versatile white that could coordinate well with both warm and cool palettes, traditional and modern décor. After much deliberation and review, Simply White OC-117 was the winner.

 Which colours were almost selected and why did Simply White win over these?

Other popular whites were part of the discussion, such as Cloud White and White Dove. However, Simply White truly held the most neutral ground and was so well suited to our message.

Where have you seen Simply White – or similar iterations – being used in technology design, product design, etc.?

Our research always involves the auto industry and technology trends in addition to furnishings, textiles, and tableware.  In 2012, white rose above silver as the most popular colour in automobiles and, prior to that, in technological gadgets. The popularity of different finishes being applied to white, such as metallic, pearlescent, and varying levels of sheen – matte to high-gloss – also renewed interest in white and continues to do so across the industries.

People always wonder whose job it is to select paint names! Can you please tell us about Benjamin Moore’s process in assigning creative, image-evoking names to your paint colours? Who selected the name Simply White?

I often get asked about the naming process, and to be honest it has varied over the years, mainly depending on the breadth of the collection. Simply White is from our large Colour Preview Collection, which was created in the year 2000.  The colour naming of this collection of over 2,000 colours was so overwhelming that it was shared with all the employees!

Many of the smaller collections, such as Designer Classics in Canada or the Colour Stories Collection, were named by members of our North American colour team, myself included. (My most sentimental choice was Delaware Putty CC-230, which I named after my first apartment in Toronto on Delaware Avenue.)

What led you down this career path? How do you personally go about selecting colour in your own life – your home, your belongings, etc.?

I was always fascinated with colour in art and fashion, and this quickly evolved to interiors as I discovered first-hand how it can change a mood and a space so drastically.  Even as a teen I re-painted my bedroom more times than I can remember!

My ‘formal” colour training began with my degree in Fine Art and Art History.  From there I worked with an interior designer in a small firm, creating commercial and residential colour schemes while pursuing my own business in mural and decorative painting, as well as colour consulting.

When selecting colour for myself, I aim to balance the colour I am craving with the reality of the colours that already exist in the context, whether that be an outfit or a room.  But at the same time, if I’m really drawn to a particular item in a brilliant colour, I just make it work!

Have you already started choosing a colour for next year? 

Yes our colour team began discussions for 2017 shortly after we launched in October 2015.


Meghan Greeley
Meghan Greeley is an actor and writer originally from Newfoundland. She has performed in films that have screened at festivals around the world, including Cannes, Karlovy Vary, the Utah Indie Film Festival, the Montreal World Film Festival, and the Toronto International Film Festival. As a writer, her works have been published in The Stockholm Review, Metatron, Riddlefence, Nelson Publications, and the Breakwater Book of Contemporary Newfoundland Drama. She is a winner of the Magnetic North Theatre Festival’s Playwriting Contest and first place winner of the Sparks Literary Festival’s Poetry Competition. She currently resides in Toronto.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.