You may not know this, but there is a secret behind the popular colors each year. Every year, the design and fashion worlds hold their collective breaths waiting for the announcement of The Pantone Color of the Year.
Pantone, once a behind-the-scenes graphics standards system, has made it their mission to ensure that when you want Reflex Blue, you get the same Reflex Blue every time, and that when you want True Red, that’s what you get.
The Pantone Matching System (PMS) started in 1963 as a way to standardize print colors. In the last 20 years, Pantone has transformed itself into a global design force with everything from Pantone lipstick and Pantone mugs to Pantone iPhone keyboards.
Read more about The Pantone Color of the Year and take the poll to see if you can predict the upcoming 2021 selection.
Why Do We Need a Standard Color System?
Pantone developed their color system to allow for the reproduction of accurate, consistent color anywhere, regardless of language, region, material, or finish. Pantone’s colors have become the standard for all industries that work with color, such as apparel, textiles, interiors, beauty, and architectural design. They have formulated 10,000 color standards and become the international authority on color.
Highlights from Pantone’s Colors of the Year
There are only so many shades and hues, right? Well, you have to hand it to Pantone for sussing out the nuances to find a new color every year and connect it to that year’s mood.
However, Pantone didn’t get much attention for their choices until the 21st century.
It began with Cerulean, which was referred to “the color of the millennium.” Cerulean reflected the inner peace and fulfillment people were looking for in a time of uncertainty.
By 2004, the mood had changed, and the bright, slightly exotic orange Tigerlily reflected one of those brief moments when orange was... having a moment. The economic climate of 2009 brought forth the cheery Mimosa, when people needed a dose of happy optimism and warmth. In 2016, Pantone chose two colors of the year, Rose Quartz and Serenity, responding to people craving comfort and the increasing blur along gender lines. And who can forget 2018's Ultra Violet, symbolizing non-conformity and experimentation, pushing boundaries, and making your unique mark on the world? (Fun fact, this Color of the Year was inspired by the late artist Prince.)
How Does Pantone Choose the Color of the Year?
Many rely on Pantone’s color authority, but what goes into choosing the color of the year? A committee of 10-12 color experts from the Pantone Institute analyzes macro influences from around the globe. The influences come from everywhere, including artists and art collections, film and entertainment, design, fashion, popular travel destinations, the automotive industry, and technology.
The committee strategically attends events ranging from art exhibits, pop-up shops, and New York fashion week. Their members take inspiration from street fashion. They pore over images and media.
Ultimately, their goal is to discover how color stories are reflecting the emotions of the year. The committee members then make presentations, and eventually agree on a single color selection. The Color of the Year is meant to represent a snapshot of what is taking place throughout the world and what is happening in everyday life.
Predict the Pantone Color of the Year 2021
The Pantone Color of the Year is announced some time in December. What color do you think will reflect 2021 mood? Warm and comforting? Nostalgic? Bold?
Take a guess at what YOU think will be the Pantone Color of the Year 2021: