Interview: How To Be An Interiors Trend Forecaster…

A textile designer by trade, Sarah Shepherd is a global interiors trend and colour forecaster who has worked in the industry for over 20 years. She launched her online creative resource TrendPulse with fellow forecaster Sally Nettleton earlier in the year and together with their correspondents in London and New York, the duo trawls the globe for inspiration to set out trends 20-24 months ahead of time. Here she gives us the skinny on how she works, what she loves and what’s hot. Sara Shepherd | Trendpulse | The chromologist

Sarah captured working at her colleague Jane Gillard’s workspace.

“Inspiration is anywhere, you never stop looking because you just never know where you’re going to get it from – markets, gardens, anywhere. We do target events and trade shows, such as Maison et Objet and Decorex. The job is reportage, so we take loads of pictures. We’ve also got a vast library of books and we go to a lot of art and design exhibitions, particularly when we’re researching the new seasons. There are some places we are drawn to. I always go to the Lille La Braderie and we both find Morocco inspiring – Sally’s never out of the place.”

Morroco inspiration  TrendPulse  The Chromologist

Inspirations from Morocco. 

“Fashion is really important and we work with Jane Gillard, our fashion contributor in London – she eats, breathes and sleeps fashion. We use the bits from it that really inspire us, whether it’s fabulous colour combinations, great prints, or fabulous textures or materials. We cherry pick.”

Trendpulse inspirations  The Chromologist

London fashion label Duro Olowu

“Our subscribers are a varied bunch ranging from retailers to manufacturers to individual designers from all over the world including the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand and China. We do the colour forecasts then the seasonal trends and there’s maybe three or four directions before we drill down into what the key colours are, what’s the mood, the textiles, materials and the key product categories, bits of furniture and silhouette. We’ve just published our Spring/Summer 2016 colour palette.”

Blues & Pinks  TrendPulse  The Chromologist


“I’ve been doing this for a long time and have a strong sense of what I like. You get a feeling for how colour is moving, so for example with yellows, whether it’s becoming more green or it’s warming up towards the orange end of the spectrum. It evolves, it doesn’t just happen. Having said that there’s always an exhibition that just grabs you and you think ‘Oh my God that pink is amazing’ and you just pop it in. I think there is a real return to dark colours and I think that’s going to continue. Our Autumn/Winter 2015/16 is about oiled, and blackened, bruised colours, which I think will continue, but maybe in a slightly more raw and rustic kind of way.”

Oiled colours  TrendPulse  The Chromologist

“We’ve noticed in Paris, New York and London masses and masses of blue right now. The shops have been rammed full of blue, whether nautical, tye dyes, ombre finishes, sky blues, natural materials. The whole pastel thing is also still very strong, it’s gone from quite pale pastels to much stronger pastels.”

Pink trend  Trendpulse Moods  The Chromologist

I’ve always been a collector. I like to have my rugs and cushions and textures and crazy nick nacks and arrangement of flowers and probably far too much crap around me. Books and access to beautiful things and wonderful images is very important when you’re in this industry. As a textile designer, I have built up an archive of fabrics and you do dip into those things when you’re looking for inspiration.

I’ve got a lot of 1950’s wire covered bottles, mainly from the south of France but also some from South Africa that are made from telegraph wire and some from Greece. I also have loads of ceramics – including quite a big collection of Rye Pottery and southern French Valareuse pottery from the 50’s. I mix them, which I think looks really nice. If you were a purist you’d think it’s disgusting.”

Sarah's wire bottles | Trendpulse | The Chromologist

Sarah's ceramics | Trendpulse | The Chromologist

“I’m drawn to bright ethnic colours combinations. Maybe a Moroccan rug with purple and pink and lime green and then a manky creamy colour blended in. I really like stuff like that. I don’t generally like clean flat colours, if things are looking a bit meh and flat, they need to be shoogled around a bit to freshen them up.”

Sarah's colours | TrendPulse | The Chromologist

“We’ve just done a piece on a fabulous shop in Brooklyn called Boerum House & Home, which feels really fresh. When we see something like that we instantly know. It’s the same with exhibitions. We went to the Dries Van Noten exhibition in Paris earlier in the year and it was really beautiful and this summer I’ve been to the Matisse Cut Outs exhibition probably five or six times. There’s also a show coming up at the Met about Kimonos and I’m never going to turn down an exhibition like that.

Boerum  Brooklyn shop Trendpulse  The Chromologist

You can find the TrendPulse blog here and follow the team on Instagram here.


Jill Macnair


Jill Macnair has worked as an interiors journalist for 13 years, contributing to titles including Elle Decoration, The Sunday Times and The Guardian. She set up cult interiors blog My Friend’s House in 2009 with Ros Anderson and continues to run the forum daily.

The Chromologist 2018 | Farrow & Ball

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