The Tyranny Of Rosegold

rosegold designs

Things have come to a head it seems. Wandering around Kings Cross the other day, I started to become irrationally annoyed by the presence of rosegold. The colour I mean. It’s not a new colour of course, it’s been around for a while, but it is simply everywhere. No pen, pencil case or accessory can be launched without a rosegold option, it’s the go-to female colour, which in itself is quite annoying. Added to this is the ubiquity of books with quotes or platitudes on the cover (Today I create my future, not tomorrow), journals with purpose – gratitude logs and wellness diaries, brass stuff – loads of it and sweary slogans – Get Shit Done.

And that’s just stationery. The rest of the world is also full of design tyranny with easily identifiable Airbnb, café culture, Instagram-style. Everywhere you go you’ll see the Instagram top ten of plants (Swiss Cheese Plant, Dragon’s Ivy, String of Hearts, basically anything from a rainforest), of grey and turquoise paint shades (Farrow & Ball, Little Greene and newcomer Lick) and industrial light pendants (bare bulbs and factory-style metal shades)

I’ll be clear: I live in a house which is chock a block full of grey feature walls and rainforest plants trailing everywhere so I’m either a massive hypocrite or very well qualified to write about this. Maybe both. But why do we want to be individuals and have our own sense of style and yet fool ourselves into thinking we aren’t just hopeless followers of the latest fad. Why am I so snooty about rosegold but turn a blind eye to Kanken backpacks? The answer I guess is that we all live in our trend silos, desperate to avoid mass culture and then confused when we discover that the black and white Victorian tiles we thought so interesting are all over Instagram: “Damn, it’s a thing” we say, “everyone has them”.

Some trend silos are well formed and obvious, frequently gender-based and unsubtle in their approach. The themes are easy to spot in gift shops – Prosecco and craft gin, slogans as ornaments, message cushions, personalised everything, driftwood signs, fake vintage (an actual crime) and that bloody rosegold. Others are more insidious and hide behind a veneer of Scandinavian chic- room scenters in minimalist bottles, itchy but expensive-looking throws and firm retro armchairs

The trend conscious will spot these things early on, before they become ‘Primarked’, slapped onto anything and everything. Once they appear in a slogan on an apron they can no longer be spoken of (Keep Calm & Drink a Negroni). In my former life as a buyer I would get increasingly depressed as I wandered the aisles of products, playing trend bingo was all that kept me going sometimes. Often all I could see was landfill, waiting in the aisles. Owls were a Big Thing a few years back, every notebook and cushion seemed to sport them. At this year’s Top Drawer trade fair back in January (another age, pre-COVID) veganism and terrariums stalked me around every corner with Greta Thunberg cloth bags and aprons sporting Keep Calm I’m Vegan.

greta thunberg tote bags
Greta Thunberg tote bags at a trade fair

But where do trends come from in the first place? Of course we have social media influencers to thank for spreading these ideas and taking them mainstream, but they are rarely original so how are they spawned? The Trends talk at Top Drawer seemed a good place to explore this complex subject but I found myself none the wiser by the end.

For 2020, without the benefit of knowing what was coming down the track about ten weeks later, sustainability was a big theme as was wellness, or omniwellness as they described it, so big is the trend. Authenticity is big, which is an annoyingly overused word, like artisan, what does it actually mean? Products having back stories is big too, we love some background about how or where it was made and a bit of personality. Trends are also concepts now – how happy does the product make you being an important consideration rather than just the design, though most people are easily convinced at the buying stage of this consideration, I know I am.

Embracing your own ideas is a trend along with eclecticism and individuality, a concept that makes my head hurt trying to understand how it works, a bit like time travel. If it is a trend then is it individual? I remember a story about IKEA making vases which were imperfect so as to be unique (another seriously overused word). They had the Chinese factory workers take them out of the moulds with their hands rather carelessly, which upset the workers no end as they were presumably used to being sanctioned for such things, leading to fingerprints and dents and no two vases the same. Unique? Or a mass produced concept? I haven’t seen them at my local IKEA so perhaps they didn’t catch on, they certainly looked awful.

There was plenty of terminology being thrown around – Ongoing Self-Curation was a big theme as was Unadorned Tactility: Serene Warmth was going to be big as was Playful Chromatics. Also, in a moment of total clarity, slowing down was going to be a thing – little did they know. Or did they? Is it a dark art? We were told of an industry sage who was famed for being able to predict trends thirty years into the future, she had apparently anticipated the colour brown being very big the previous year, or maybe this year, I forget. Whatever, industry will follow these trends, embracing the concepts until they simply can’t sell them anymore. Sustainability is suddenly less important now, single-use plastic not quite the villain it was and homemade has a rather different ring to it. Who could have predicted that Gap would be selling facemasks and Brewdog making hand sanitiser?

Where was I? Oh yes, rosegold, the trend that just won’t die. I did consider starting a petition on Change.org to have rosegold banned but then decided that starting a petition on Change.org is a trend in itself. It is all very confusing so in the interests of my Ongoing Self Curation, I have decided to take the blue pill and tell myself that a monkey leaf plant would look very nice in my living room. And dammit if I don’t like a good Negroni too.

rosegold shopping baskets
Even the shopping baskets are rosegold at Oliver Bonas
37 Comments
  1. I do sympathise with – and understand – your feelings. When I was working, I bought “on trend” sometimes and enjoyed the items and being part of the cult. Now I’m retired I’m more careful what I buy and more aware of the landfill issue and I find I still want Leuchturm and Rhodia for my journals but my everyday stationery comes from Wilko and The Works and although it isn’t branded it is just as functional… and I do dislike rosegold 🤬

    1. I fear I am a raging hypocrite, both attracted and repelled to trends in equal measure. But I do worry about our disposable culture and I think that’s what upsets me about retail: so many products clearly destined for the dump in a few months.

  2. I have never ever followed ‘trends’. I have a belief in my own choices and I also believe that some trends are there just to increase sales of particular items. Its like the fashion industry, there’s absolutely nothing new that I haven’t seen before in my 60 odd years on this planet but obviously new generations come along and see a ‘new’ idea and think its great or innovative. I also hate “influencers” on such as YouTube. What the yell is that about? Are we now all sheep that need some opinionated no-mark telling us whats good? The world has been, is and always will be a mad place. Take care and stay safe.

    1. Most trends are some form of recycling for sure. And the world is definitely a mad place, I prefer it that way. You take care too Mike and thanks for reading.

  3. Beautifully articulated. Thanks for a little smile in my day. I wonder – is rosegold an attempt to reclaim a colour irretrievably tarnished by its association with Trump?

    1. Interesting idea though I think it pre-dated the Gold Guy:) I believe it originated from Faberge and was known as Russian Gold back in the 19th Century so it’s been around a while but really got going as a more recent trend around 2016. Hmm now I think about it…

  4. I’ll doubtless be struck off the mailing list for this, but I quite like rose gold. Firstly, I’m a big fan of copper, but it is nigh impossible to stop it tarnishing (you can lacquer it, but then it’s no longer copper, it’s lacquer)- rose gold is an acceptable, and dare I say attractive alternative to copper. Secondly, there are bargains to be had- when I cast around six months ago for a new 128Gb iPad for music production purposes, the ‘space grey’ option was the expensive one. I ended up with a 2019 7th gen 10.2” iPad in rose gold for £329- nearly £100 cheaper than the ‘manly’ alternative colours. And once it’s in its case it’s near impossible to tell what colour it is anyway!

    1. Actually Wal it has made my morning. To think of you with your tattoos and guitars wandering around with a rose gold iPad, an example to us all. I think it’s more the association with women that troubles me, the updated version of slapping pink on anything and everything. Good news anyway that grey is the expensive option, it seems things are back as they should be then.

  5. Well Jo, you’ve seen the pics and will be aware that the studio is deliberately decorated in grey throughout- and most synths are predominantly black- but I do have a shocking pink guitar. Anyway, rose gold is cool imho. Perhaps it’s only cool if you’re a bloke?

    1. I’m inclined to agree but then I think I might give the whole gender issue a miss. Trends is quite controversial enough for me. Much as I dislike the stuff Wal, I will defend to the death your right to have a rose gold guitar should you wish.

  6. I’m not sure there really is a colour called rosegold. It seems to be a label slapped onto anything between pink and bronze to make it sound more interesting, which is probably the case with most of these trends.

    1. It’s real Karl! It is an alloy of gold and copper with some silver – the definition is 75% gold, 22.25% copper, 2.75% silver. Then there is red gold, pink gold ……

  7. I hope you felt better after writing that lot!
    Why is it that some of us want to follow trends? The mere sight of ‘trending’ makes me irate. Do we lack confidence in our own choices and don’t want to stand out as individuals? My collections of Leuchtturm journals and Lamy pens are comprised of the colours which I like and I take no notice or interest in whether they’re trending, supposedly masculine or feminine colours or anything else.
    I could say more but you might need to get your rose gold censor’s pen out.

  8. I know your pain. My beloved wife has been a Pinterest / HGTV / Southern Living junkie. I would have been able to retire at 45 if I had the money spent on things seen in a magazine, web page , or store that had to be swept away a year or two later. Me? I just like what I like including rose gold. I collect fountain pens and have a friend who only buys rose gold. Call us crazy. Keep up the the great work – Wednesdays are richer for your efforts!

  9. You have a point here. And I’m sorry to say that the rose-gold tiranny effortlessly translates to the fountain-pen tiranny. Or the titanium bolt action gel pen tiranny. Or so many other fads and hypes.

    Oh definitely guilty as charged. Although especially the fountain pen one seems escapable for me. Still out of all these tirannies sometimes valuable items seem to float to the surface. TR paper for me for example.

    Oh and in case you think you can scare me off: I’ll be back!

  10. It’s amusing and heart warming to see all the grumpy old men and women come out of the woodwork and reassuring to know that I’m not alone.
    It’s all about shiny beads to dazzle the natives, with new colours to encourage repeat sales and keep the economy moving.
    I accept the argument that rose gold gives a warmer look to the gold appointments on a black fountain pen but I prefer the old classic look.
    I’d cross the road to avoid a so-called inspirational saying but most stationery seems to be targeted at teenage girls who appear to be particularly vulnerable to the Woke virus.
    I’ve loved stationery since I was a child and have fallen for many a marketing ploy, the most ruinous being the fountain pen rabbit hole I fell through a few years ago, but now in straitened, wiser circumstances I am happy with Clairefontaine pads and a Parker Jotter school fountain pen. But then wasn’t the Rhodia/Clairefontaine back to basics just another marketing campaign targeted at the older retro, nostalgia crowd like me? Darn! They got me again.

    1. I’m glad you think of the grumpy as heart-warming Ronald, they are some of my favourite people, myself included. As for new colours though, I accept and despair at the need to keep producing new shiny beads to keep us buying but I think it is the relentless flogging of trends that gets me down. The way the industry just applies ideas with such abandon, it really is like a virus. And I’m not convinced that only teenage girls are fond of inspirational sayings but I’ll say no more here!

  11. Thank you so much for making me laugh, Jo! (in sympathy with your sentiments, I mean) It must be difficult for anyone who is a professional buyer or in some way professionally exposed to the glaringly shallow trends which manufacturers use to sell as much stuff as possible, for as short a user life as possible. And indeed that situation cannot be good for our natural environment. I get quite obsessed with waste and throwing things away instead of repairing, so it’s a relief not to feel alone.
    Personally I have done my best all my life to ignore trends and just follow what I think is nice (which might happen to be part of a trend, or not). However I observe that the strong human desire to belong and fit in with the crowd does not go away easily, and perhaps it is not purely bad. Perhaps it can be fun to participate in something that feels ‘new’ or that we actually find inspiring. And perhaps we simply cannot avoid picking up on things that are around in public consciousness. Still, I no longer use a mobile phone, have become allergic to the idea of plastic or synthetics in almost any domain, am not planning to buy any new clothes but rather continue looking after what I’ve gathered over the last 20 years, and think I’ll continue to stick it out for now … while embracing meditation, essential oils and regenerative gardening. Now those couldn’t possibly be trends, could they ….

    1. I am so impressed – no mobile phone! I heard Jane Fonda the other day saying she will buy no more clothes ever again as she has enough so you are in good company. Bet she has a phone though. Meditation and essential oils are fine things of course but when the industry gets hold of these things they just litter everywhere with their overkill. I’m also a bit obsessed with repairing and very proud of my 16 year old kettle, with you all the way there Natasha.

  12. My personal bête noir is the use of “anyhoo” which is so repetitive in some YouTube content that I just click off a video as soon as I hear it.
    The trends I can’t buy into include Gilio, Van Der Spek and now Moterm leather goods which have been hyped to kingdom come; shimmer inks; Tomoe River Paper because, really, can’t we just admit it’s too thin and all the writing shows through on the back? I won’t even touch on bulging planners with three or four layers of card, vellum, and paper at the start of each section.
    And, finally, in my formative years I was taught the KISS method – keep it short and simple. Neither ‘s’ stands for stupid and anyone who thinks it does is clearly involved in a monologue.

    1. It’s adorable for me, you’ll never hear me describe anything as adorable, not even a kitten. I’ll have to confess to not being familiar with Moterm and Van Der Spek but then I believe I am missing the accessories gene, never having owned a handbag in my life so perhaps I’m a bit intolerant of leather goods generally. Tomoe River paper though! Careful now, even I’m not going there.

  13. I’m with you on the inspirational sayings, mainly because I love quotes and have always liked to add ones that appeal to me which is difficult when every available space is emblazoned with the mantra that I am enough. I recently received a bag of inspirational cards in a set with a journal and diary and I couldn’t stand them. However, I gave them to a friend who has just been bereaved and they have really struck a chord with her and she’s getting a lot of comfort from them so I can’t condemn them as completely bad.

    1. True, it’s like greeting cards: certain artworks have ceased to be works of art and are now just cards and fridge magnets. It doesn’t mean they aren’t valid, just that they have been somewhat corrupted for us.

  14. Unfazed I am 🙂 Oh. I did forget to mention the fountain-pen-ink-tyranny. That’s an especially cruel one. I would loath to be a collector of inks nowadays. Example? That series of Sailor fountain pen inks that runs into more than 100 different colors? I mean WHY in Heavens’ Name? Even Diamine and Herbin and Montblanc are succumbing to the fad of couleur-du-jour in different amounts. Not to mention a number of boutique ink brands like Robert Oster or Bungabox or Ferris Wheel Press just to mention a few.
    Oh you might even start to believe I hate stationery. Not so. But ink and pen wise I think the market looks rose gold top to bottom currently…

    1. There is a lot of ink out there agreed but I am reminded of the very deep insight shown by Moomintroll, when trying to comfort the saddened Hemulen who has collected all the stamps in the world: “I think I understand, you aren’t a collector anymore, you’re only an owner, and that isn’t nearly so much fun“.

  15. While you decry the tyranny of rosewood let us not forget the prevalence of Pumpkin Spice. It is my pet peeve. It is in everything from foods to soap even ink. (ok so its tattoo ink). In my opinion both of those are trends that need to end but I fear will be with us for a long time.

  16. What I learned from Stephen Brown is that if you collect you will need a focus and a goal. All stamps of the world is a goal perhaps but not a focus. I try to collect fountain pens. My current focus is Pelikan Level L65 and my goal is to collect all the different colours, all five of them. Look up that pen. Such a pity that Pelikan is not making them anymore – brilliant pen really.

  17. Now that is deep. Who would have believed line drawings capable of such wisdom. As someone with ever-increasing ‘stuff’ I must beware…

  18. OOPS that should have been Rosegold not rosewood. (sigh) I’ll blame it on auto-correct. lol

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