Design Monthly: Speed Palettes

Design Monthly: Speed Palettes

This month we focused on learning from each other: what works does and does not work when you’re assembling a palette? As this is a personal experience, we wanted to understand what makes a pleasing palette from each individual’s perspective.


To start off, we laid out a plethora of materials, wood, flooring, fabric, glass, etc. Senior Designers with experience creating palettes shared advice, tips, and tricks, as well as challenges that have resulted. Each person pulled “concepts” out of a hat such as rainy day, Dallas, favorite ice cream, BBQ glam-tastic,  and Gilmore Girls. They had 5 minutes to pull together a palette based on that concept using six materials of any combination. The exercise was created to help our staff think on their feet and remove the fear of choosing something that might be considered “wrong”. Once everyone had chosen their materials, we laid out our palettes. Everyone had an attention to detail on “the art of laying out a palette”. We went through each and gave a description for their palette, and why they pulled specific materials.

The second round, each person was assigned a material that was seemingly difficult to work with. We discussed “beauty in the eye of the beholder”; some materials that might not be considered for a project, might have the potential to pull another project together.

The intent of the gathering was to learn techniques and experiences from everyone – those who are palette veterans and newbies. We also wanted to take away the fear of starting a new palette and give everyone a chance to experience making palettes quickly.

A few techniques included:

  • “Blender” concept – using a “blender” material between your neutrals and bold colors; a material that softly introduces the crazy color you’re about to showcase.
  • Warm vs. cool –  This isn’t really a thing as much these days, it’s more of a variation within each palette.
  • First impressions – Pull several things you like and then start to narrow things down.

The gathering allowed us to engage with people who don’t normally pull palettes together. It was great to have time to discuss and dissect what we do on a daily basis, breaking the process down to make it more manageable. You don’t need an entire library of materials to make a palette; sometimes creativity can be fostered by limitations or by breaking them.