Meet the Experts : Stef Steen, Colour and Trend Specialist

Written by Justine Jackson

27 June 2019

Twice a year, we publish our Home & Interior trend books bringing unique and compelling stories to life and inspiring product ranges every season. The trend books are a distilled and physical expression of a large body of work which brings together a network of creative experts across different industries and geographies, with their own individual specialisms. Like us, these experts are driven by a huge sense of curiosity to understand more about the future of life at home. One of our contributors is Stef Steen – a Colour and Trend specialist based in Hackney, London. We recently had the pleasure of working with Stef as we commenced forecasts for Autumn Winter 2021/22 at our Home Trend Panel.

Could you tell us a bit more about yourself?

I ran the womenswear colour department at Marks & Spencer for almost 10 years, prior to that I was Fabric Editor of International Textiles Magazine and Chairperson of the ICA (International Colour Authority). I now run my own Trend Consultancy in Hackney; working with interior designers, trend forecasting agencies and retailers in the UK and internationally. I’m also on the cusp of qualifying as a psychotherapist so I’m very attuned to what drives people’s behaviours and this infiltrates my trend work in quite a unique way. I’m also highly intuitive and very tuned into the zeitgeist but also living in Hackney is very helpful with this; often trends originate in Hackney or there are a lot of early adopters round here e.g. an increase in vegan produce in the local stores started happening at least 10 years ago, now it’s a fully fledged trend.

What inspires you? Where do you find inspiration?

I have always taken a lot of my inspiration from art and artists as I think they are naturally ahead of the curve – during my student days in the early ’90s, I knew a lot of people studying fine art and they were all wearing vintage clothes, well before that trend hit the mainstream and the high street. I also have to confess I’m a bit of an Instagram junkie and follow lots of artists, designers, photographers and makers on it, I find these people and their work very inspiring. I love looking for inspiration when I’m out and about and then playing with adding palettes to my images. When you really start to look, interesting colour combinations are everywhere. Below is a bowl in my friend’s house and the picture on the right was taken whilst out for lunch at Deliciously Ella’s plant based deli on Weighhouse Street in London.

Images: Stef Steen

What are the key differences between trend forecasting for the fashion industry versus home and interiors?

I’d say with home and interiors forecasting, you need to be more mindful of societal trends in terms of people’s attitudes and behaviours, whereas with fashion – although those things are important – there is also a huge awareness of what’s happening in the celebrity world, music & musicians, influencers, street style and catwalk. Trends are more instantaneous in fashion so even though you can predict how a season will look in advance, there will always be ‘close to season’ updates or tweaks.

How did you get into specialising as a colour trend forecaster? What do you enjoy most about working with colour and trends?

Whilst studying for my degree in woven textile design I was very philosophically inclined and interested in telling a story through my work. I was also very good at the initial stages of design work e.g. moodboards and sketchbooks. I loved the trend forecasting publications in the college library and the idea of becoming a forecaster seemed a good choice for my skill base. When I graduated I started freelancing at trend forecasting agencies. In the first studio I worked in, I was fascinated by the discussions on colour and although very junior, my insights were appreciated by the team. Then a full time job came up at International Textiles magazine which involved chairing the ICA and producing their seasonal forecast. I think it’s a privilege to work with colour as it’s so beautiful and the possibilities are endless with it. It also really enhances people’s lives which inspires me – who doesn’t feel happier when wearing a colour they love?

What did you enjoy most about participating in the Trend Panel?

I loved the sharing of our ideas and how everyone’s approach was so unique. It was also a really friendly atmosphere and it was good to discuss the future with some brilliant minds!

Images: Trend Bible

Having had years of experience within the industry, what tip would you give for forward thinking?

Be extremely curious. Don’t take things at face value – always question things and wonder about the ‘why’. In trying to establish the ‘why’ you’ll often get valuable insights into how a trend will progress. Think creatively about problems –  if we continually look for creative solutions to climate change as opposed to letting it overwhelm us and keep us stuck it could give birth to a very exciting new age of creativity.

Interested in collaborating with us on our Trend Panels? For information on how to get involved contact us at

Whether you are working 3 or 18 months ahead of the season, our Home & Interiors Trend Books are a valuable resource and are available to buy from our online store. To receive a free demo of our Spring Summer 2020 book click on the free download feature on this post.

The PANTONE® Reference names and/or numbers are from the PANTONE FASHION, HOME + INTERIORS color system (a component of the PANTONE Textile Color System®).  The colors shown here are digital simulations, which may not match the PANTONE Color Standards.  For accurate PANTONE Color Standards, refer to the current edition of the PANTONE® FASHION, HOME + INTERIORS cotton publications.  PANTONE® and other Pantone trademarks are the property of Pantone LLC.  Portions © Pantone LLC, 2016.

Easy to digest, visually inspiring, and just the right dose of information.

Webb deVlam

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