Inspiring editorial from MIX Magazine

The ebb and flow of trends is central to the forecaster's remit. In this series, first published in MIX Magazine, we aim to show how, by looking to the past and at social and cultural factors, it is possible to predict the path of consumer preference.

Here we turn our attention to the timelessly optimistic messaging of rainbows…



Trend Trajectories: rainbows

In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, small gestures of kindness have become powerfully important. Perhaps the most moving of all; children’s drawings of rainbows pasted onto windows. These drawings started appearing in Italy and were swiftly adopted by children all over the world. The rainbow itself is a message of hope and a belief that we can get through.



This is not the first time rainbows have been used as a message of hope. Since 1978, the rainbow has been the official brand of LGBT pride and inclusiveness. Originally designed by artist Gilbert Baker, the flag, made from six symbolic colours, is now a globally recognised logo; so much so that in 2003, Baker created a 1.25 mile long flag that stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean in Key West, Florida.



Rainbows have also been closely linked with kitsch. Perhaps the kitschiest film of all time, released in 1955, The Wizard of OZ is awash with rainbows and features the iconic Judy Garland song Somewhere over the Rainbow, signalling the idea of hope, home and happiness. In fashion, rainbow braces popped up around 1973, but in 1978 they were immortalised by Robin Williams's extra-terrestrial character in the cult TV show Mork & Mindy



Away from cultural symbolism, the sheer aesthetic appeal and science behind rainbows has also fascinated designers. In 2014, Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde lit up Amsterdam Central Station with the largest artificial rainbow in the world, while in 2010 Japanese designer Tokujin Yoshioka created a 9-metre window made of glass prisms that cast a mesmerising pattern of rainbows on the floor.



Rainbows also have a long history of symbolism in art. There's John Constable’s Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows (1831) that revealed the artist’s sound scientific knowledge, in the Blind Girl by John Everett Millais, the rainbow becomes a symbol of nature’s beauty unseen and, in the famous Rainbow Portrait of Elizabeth I, the English monarch is seen grasping a rainbow, an emblem of peace.



The reappearance of the rainbow, when the world is facing fear and threat, is highly symbolic. The rainbow in the Bible marks the end of the deluge and the recession of the great flood. Ultimately it expresses hope. And hope has been very much needed. 



MIX Magazine is a quarterly print and digital publication by our creative agency, Colour Hive and is available as part of Colour Hive membership.

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Image credits from top:

Alex Jackman | © Colour Hive | Teddy Osterblom | Kon Karampelas | Stainless Images | MIX Images © Colour Hive | Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Leonard and Paula Granoff 1895 | © Colour Hive