Don't get me wrong: I think Ultra Violet, Pantone's pick for color of the year in 2018, is a pretty color. It was my favorite color when I was five. But as a visionary color, or one that's supposed to represent both the cultural zeitgeist and the future of design, it seems a bit...uninspired. Maybe I'm a little bitter because none of my predictions for COTY 2018 panned out, but I can't help wishing that the color was something a little more nuanced. Here are seven colors that should have been color of the year, IMHO.
Maybe it's just because it's fall, but hunter green is looking so good to me right now. 2017's Pantone Color of the Year was also a green, so two greens in a row might seem like a bit of a stretch, but I think this could've been billed as the logical successor to the young, somewhat brash Greenery—like its grown-up, slightly more mature cousin.
Rich, vibrant teal feels at once like a tribute to the '80s and something new and fresh. Mindful of the past but also forward looking — what more could you want in a Color of the Year? (Not immaterially, teal was a favorite with our editors, and also with our readers, in predicting the Color of the Year.)
I'm starting to see a lot of this desaturated light purple, which I've decided to call "Dusky Lavender". Moody, desaturated colors are very big in interior design right now, so this feels very of the moment. It also feels a bit more sophisticated than many of Pantone's past COTY picks, which tend towards bright, in-your-face colors.
This was the staff consensus (and my pick) when we made our guesses for this year's Color of the Year. This color has a sweetness and also a hopefulness to it that I think would be very welcome at this particular moment in time, and it's also a nod to Gen Z Yellow, a color that's a candidate for the new millennial pink, and one with a very interesting history.
That's right, this list includes two yellows. Writing that piece about Gen Z Yellow really sold me on yellow as the color of youth culture and edgy cool. Yellow has never really gotten a lot of love from Pantone, with the exception of 2009's Mimosa, and I see this going in a more golden, even olive, direction. It's like a grown-up version of the buttercup above, still optimistic but more wise about the ways of the world.
With the exception of 2006's Sand Dollar, a rather bland beige, Pantone has never gone for a neutral as the color of the year. Brown is the least celebrated and, at least in my mind, the most interesting of the colors we think of as neutrals, and I think it's thoroughly due for a re-examination.
But, I hear you say, black isn't a color. Well, depending on which model of color you're using, black is either the complete absence of color, or the result of every imaginable color coming together at once. The idea of disparate elements merging to create something new and exciting is a hopeful one, even if, historically, black has not been viewed as a particularly hopeful color. Pantone could have used their platform to begin to redefine the negative associations we have with this color, or, at the very least, could have made a controversial choice instead of dipping into their box of (admittedly very pretty) crayon colors. Did they mean to choose black, get scooped by PPG paints, and have to pivot? The world may never know.
What would you have liked to see for Pantone's Color of the Year?