KUALA LUMPUR: A study by AkzoNobel, the world's largest paint and coatings company, on colour trends during economic changes, showed a co-relation between the state of the economy with colour trends.

Although regional preferences can have an impact, "colour trends have been fluctuating in waves over the last few decades as the economy ebbed and flowed," said  Jeremy Rowe, AkzoNobel managing director for decorative paints, South East Asia & Pacific.

"During an economic downturn, neutral colours such as black, white and greys are favoured for interiors while more intense colours are used when people feel more confident," explains Rowe at a breakfast meeting with the Malaysian media on July 31.

He added that in Western Europe at the moment, sober whites and off-whites are the most popular while in the US, beige and grey are dominant.

Asia, he added is definitely more colourful with fresh colours such a yellows and pink and light blue preferred.

In the months ahead, Rowe said, "colours will be lighter in mood and more optimistic in feel" as the world emerges from the current economic downturn.     

AkzoNobel acquired Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) paints last year. It is the manufacturer of the Dulux brand of paints.

ICI Paints (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd managing director Goh Cheok Weng said the paints and coatings sector has shown improvement in Q2 indicating a return in consumer confidence.

The Amsterdam-based AkzoNobel posted revenue of 15.4 billion euros last year. It expects to maintain Asia's 20% contribution to its total sales up till 2012.

ICI Paints Malaysia also launched a month-long nationwide roadshow to raise awareness on the need for sustainable, environment-friendly products and its commitment to produce low odour, low volatile compound (VOC) green certified paints.   

It is the first decoration company to introduce the full range of low odour, low VOC interior emulsion paints with Singapore's Green Label accreditation in Malaysia.