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Fancy a colour?

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A colour coating manufacturer allowed colour to be brought into existence with plain speech—something that’s never been done before.

Designers are often in need of finding the perfect colour to match their vision.

If they wanted to create something that matched the colour of, for example, a New York City summer sunset, they’d have to sift through potentially hundreds of colour cards used by designers to get as close as possible to the one they imagined. And still, it’d be a tall order to find that exact match. 

Enter Sherwin-Williams, global leader in colour coatings, with their AI-powered, voice-controlled tool, ‘Speaking In Color’. This web app produces hues based on human inspiration. “Start with a memory, a place, a feeling – anything that inspires you.”—says the welcome message on the website.

Users have to just describe their desired colour aloud—for example, by saying “crystal clear, Caribbean water”. ‘Speaking In Color’ uses natural language processing to interpret the phrase and millions of images are analysed by a search algorithm.


In the end, with the use of image recognition technology, the tool creates a custom colour palette. Minor adjustments can then be made to the results, using commands such as “dim it a little” or “more like the 1980s” to fine-tune the colour.

Source: Wunderman Thompson
Source: Wunderman Thompson

With each use, the web app is enriching Sherwin-Williams’s dataset of colour attribution. As a result, the company is gaining insights into the global, cultural, and geographical contexts of specific colours. This provides an advantage in colour mapping, predicting trends, and understanding the role colour plays in all of our lives.

Wawa Gilewski Market Intelligence