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Inspired Violet chosen as colour of the year by Dulux

Turn off, tune out, find refuge. The high-energy colour palette that has dominated design this year looks like it will take a turn for the darker and more mellow as people seek comfort in unplugging and turning the volume down in 2013.

Or so that's the thinking behind Dulux paint's new colour of the year, a dark blue with a purple tinge called Inspired Violet.

"We're constantly on. There's so much noise," says Martin Tustin-Fuchs, brand director for AkzoNobel, makers of Dulux paint. "We need to find spaces to shut off." The new colour of the year "has such a calming nature to it," he adds.

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Last year's Dulux colour of the year, a pinkish-red called Tea Dance, was chosen because it reflected a belief that 2012 would be a year of optimism and opportunities. The Pantone colour of the year, Tangerine Tango, cranked the volume up to 11, with press materials touting its "vivaciousness" and "adrenalin rush."

Those vibrant and cheerful colours have been replaced by something more contemplative for 2013, which seems appropriate. With a still-slumping economy and all its ripple effects, it would be a tough sell to ask people to continue buying into the come-on-get-happy colour scheme.

The colour of the year is always chosen to reflect the times, Tustin-Fuchs says.

"It's not necessarily just what's going on in the economy, or just going on with complex social shifts, but they certainly have a big impact on the mood of the overall colour scheme," he says.

Then again, some people are still looking on the bright side. Last month, Benjamin Moore announced that Lemon Sorbet, (which the company describes as "invigorating"), as its colour of the year 2013. Invigorating, perhaps, but it's still certainly not as in-your-face loud as tangerine. So maybe everyone shares the feeling we need to turn the visual noise down.

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