2014 Color Preview: Analyzing Orchid

Color Therapy

At last — the green-eggs-and-ham year that was 2013 is finally over. So let’s put away our year-end reviews and get down to the important business of looking ahead.

For part one of this series, I’m going to comment on the already much-commented upon Radiant Orchid, Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2014, and offer a few of my own photos for inspiration. As you may know, trend analysts don’t just pull these things out of a dream. They carefully follow the flickering fluctuations of color across a variety of industries, which sometimes coalesce around the dominant hues that can define an era. It inevitably starts in fast-moving fashion and haute couture, trickles down to model cars, electronics and blenders, and then blossoms everywhere else. In one decade appliances are avocado green, then glossy white, then grey. Right this second I’m not sure how much more neon yellow I can take.

Which brings us to Radiant Orchid. Look at the list of Pantone’s picks for the last few years and perhaps nothing stands out quite yet as epoch defining. But that said, there’s something about Orchid that strikes me as especially prescient this time around.

As a color it’s fairly prismatic — it’s not a red purple, a blue purple, a brown purple or a grey one. On the swatch it looks a bit cartoony, but what I like about it is that it’s a bit of a zinger, a clarion call through the grey decade we’re in. Orchid is futuristic and third eye, regal with a hint of disco, fun and New Age, and should be used I think as a highlight or top note rather than as total immersion. I do indeed see this color on the streets, in magazines and shop windows, and as I type this, New York City’s new First Lady is wearing an Orchid coat during Mayor Bill de Blasio’s inauguration.

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It must be noted, I predicted this last October when I was following Fashion week, so I already have a few photos of recent projects, including something I sent down to Miami for Basel. Yes, Fine Paints of Europe will mix any Pantone number in paint if you must have the exact thing. See also Benjamin Moore’s Lilac Pink 2074-40, to get you in range.

And remember: you heard it here first.

(Inauguration Photo: Todd Heisler/The New York Times, All others: Mark Chamberlain)

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