This time, we’re taking a closer look at the Pantone Color of the Year. What do the colors say about our recent past?
First, how can there be a “Color of the Year?” Who decides? Pantone is a U.S corporation that focuses on exact color matching. Notably, their vast library of Pantone colors ensures that colors remain consistent, matching precisely wherever you print them.
From spring through fall, the Pantone Color Institute closely analyzes fashion shows, the entertainment industry, movies, the design and art world, social media posts, street art, and more. Thus, through ongoing global trends research, they focus on the most popular emerging colors that send the right message for the times.
After closely watching trends from all corners of the world, the color of the year presents itself.
“Influences may also stem from new technologies, materials, textures, and effects that impact, color, relevant social media platforms and even upcoming sporting events that capture worldwide attention,” Pantone wrote.
Once Pantone declares the color, numerous industries respond almost immediately. Home furnishings, fashion, industrial and graphic design, and packaging begin using the color more and more. Also, they often pick harmonious and complementary colors suggested by Pantone as well.
The Psychology of Color
Many companies understand the power, psychology, and emotion of colors. Often, colors are associated with experiences, new ways of thinking, moods, and feelings. However, colors can also mean very different things to different cultures, genders, nationalities, ethnicities, and languages. Also, the way individuals see color can significantly vary. Therefore, reactions to color are always subjective.
Nevertheless, the power of color psychology is well known. Sometimes, our visual experience becomes psychological, affecting our moods and emotions. Thus, the color blue on your wall could generally evoke a calming, serene feeling. On the other hand, a bright red could bring energy, passion, and excitement. Whereas choosing purple may change to one of imagination and creativity.
Next, we’ll look at the recent Pantone Colors of Year and what they say about those colors. Then, consider if you get those same feelings from them. What do these colors say about the past five years?
Colors of the Year 2021
For 2021, Pantone chose two colors: a gray called “Ultimate Gray” and a vibrant color called “Illuminating” yellow. They believe these colors will best “express the mood” for the upcoming year.
After 2020, one can see why Patone’s Color Institute may have picked this combination. The company states they chose the colors since people are looking for ways “to fortify themselves with energy, clarity, and hope to overcome the continuing uncertainty.”
The combination is one they hope will encourage spirits that have often been low, in part due to the Coronvavirus pandemic.
“Emboldening the spirit, the pairing of PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray + PANTONE 13-0647 highlights our innate need to be seen, to be visible, to be recognized, to have our voices heard. A combination of color whose ties to insight, innovation and intuition, and respect for wisdom, experience, and intelligence inspires regeneration, pressing us forward toward new ways of thinking and concepts.”
More about the 2021 Pantone Color of the Year from Adobe below:
Color of the Year 2020
For 2020, you may have noticed many products featuring the “Classic Blue” shade. The Color Institute chose the deep blue to instill “calm, confidence, and connection.” They believe the color matches with the desire to build a “dependable, stable foundation” as we enter a new era.
“As technology continues to race ahead of the human ability to process it all, it is easy to understand why we gravitate to colors that are honest and offer the promise of protection. Non-aggressive and easily relatable, the trusted PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue lends itself to relaxed interaction. Associated with the return of another day, this universal favorite is comfortably embraced,” Pantone wrote.
See a soothing video about the Pantone Color of the Year 2020 below from TeaLeaves:
Color of the Year 2019
The color for 2019 is called “Living Coral,” a bright peachy hue that Pantone says “embraces us with warmth and nourishment to provide comfort and buoyancy in our continually shifting environment.” The company notes the color is vibrant but also mellow, animating, and life-affirming.
The company says they chose the color as a response to often disheartening online life and digital technology.
“With everything that’s going on today, we’re looking for those humanizing qualities because we’re seeing online life dehumanizing a lot of things,” Pantone vice president Laurie Pressman said, according to the Associated Press. “We’re looking toward those colors that bring nourishment and the comfort and familiarity that make us feel good. It’s not too heavy. We want to play. We want to be uplifted.”
The bright, convivial color evokes the coral reef that provides shelter for a rainbow of colorful inhabitants. In mood, it’s enlightening, encouraging, and playful, although also, unfortunately, more and more elusive.
In an interview with TIME, Laurie Pressman, Vice President of the Pantone Color Institute, noted:
“We see the environment taking on an even greater role in the world we live in today for two primary reasons, one being how connected we are to technology,” said Pressman. “Because we are so connected to something that’s not real, so to speak, we really need to find that balance closely and intimately with something that is real, and you don’t get more real than nature,” she added.
See more about the 2019 Color of the Year from TIME:
Color of the Year 2018
In 2018, the Pantone Color of the Year seemed to pay homage to the late musical icon, Prince. As TIME reported that year:
“… there’s no convincing the Internet otherwise that this “dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade” isn’t inspired by his very Purpleness, the late, great musical (and life) icon known as Prince.”
Indeed, the company noted that Prince, David Bowie, and Jimi Hendrix brought Ultra Violet to “the forefront of western pop culture as personal expressions of individuality.”
Pantone’s colour of the year for 2018 is officially purple, which will obviously please all of you Prince fans out there. Just another reason to party like it’s 1999! #design #PantoneColorOfTheYear #packaging pic.twitter.com/hvbQFPNg2A
— Curious Design (@CuriousDesignNZ) December 7, 2017
On their website, Pantone notes that Ultra Violet is provocative and thoughtful, provoking, “originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us toward the future.”
“Complex and contemplative, Ultra Violet suggests the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead, and the discoveries beyond where we are now. The vast and limitless night sky is symbolic of what is possible and continues to inspire the desire to pursue a world beyond our own.
Enigmatic purples have also long been symbolic of counterculture, unconventionality, and artistic brilliance. Musical icons Prince, David Bowie, and Jimi Hendrix brought shades of Ultra Violet to the forefront of western pop culture as personal expressions of individuality. Nuanced and full of emotion, the depth of PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet symbolizes experimentation and non-conformity, spurring individuals to imagine their unique mark on the world, and push boundaries through creative outlets.”
As well as evoking artistry, the purple hue inspires connection with a meditative, spiritual quality.
See more about the 2018 Pantone Color of the Year from ABC below:
Color of the Year 2017
“Expect to see a lot more green in 2017,” reported the news for the year. That year, the color was influenced by politics to infuse hope for a prosperous future. The bright springtime color offered relief from an otherwise chaotic and often unstable society.
See more about the Pantone Color of the Year 2017 from Pantone below:
“We know what kind of world we are living in: one that is very stressful and very tense, “said Leatrice Eiseman, the executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “This is the color of hopefulness and of our connection to nature. It speaks to what we call the ‘re’ words: regenerate, refresh, revitalize, renew. Every spring, we enter a new cycle, and new shoots come from the ground. It is something life-affirming to look forward to.”
Featured image: Screenshots via YouTube