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"P" is for: Pantone 2016 Color(s) of the Year!

Nyla Smith | Tuesday, December 08, 2015

For the first time ever, Pantone’s Color of the Year is a duo. That’s right, the color for 2016 is actually two — Rose Quartz and Serenity. Another notable “first” is that it represents a departure from the usual bold rich color typically given this honor, being the first pastel shades in a decade. This is quite a shift from the norm — what does it mean?

Rose Quartz (13-1520) and Serenity (15-3919)

Pantone’s Color of the Year is historically not only a forecast for the year to come, but a reflection of the times we are already in. (Art imitating life and so on...) This year is no different.

Blurring the Lines of Gender

It's no coincidence that the colors selected are stereotypically male (blue) and female (pink). It is fitting that Pantone would decide to break convention and name a combination of two shades as one Color of the Year. We are in a time where the rules are being redefined, particularly if you look at how our society is shifting to become more gender-neutral, or even genderless. People are asking the questions: What is male? What is female? Can one become the other? Do both exist in one? Pantone’s Color of the Year is an obvious reflection of this blurring or erasure of expected gender boundaries.

Does this indicate a collective shift? Does this say something about our changing society? Of course it does. Pantone’s own announcement recognizes, “In many parts of the world we are experiencing a gender blur as it relates to fashion…This more unilateral approach to color is coinciding with societal movements toward gender equality and fluidity.”

Whatever significance that has will differ from person to person, but the fact is, this is our society, and Pantone is reflecting it.

Giving Us All a Bit of Calm

In an interview with Glamour last year, Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, pointed out the obvious, that “psychology…[is] a very important part of color.” Colors make us feel a certain way, act a certain way. Color can communicate moods and evoke emotions without even trying. So how will Pantone’s color choices affect us psychologically? Can it make us all a bit happier? Is our society at large in need of the tranquility and peace that is reminiscent of these soft muted shades?

We are right now in a season of transformation and turmoil. With a news cycle filled with terrorists and shootings, strife and injustices, is it any wonder that we desire a bit of tranquility?

Laurie Pressman, vice president of Pantone Color Institute, confirms this in a statement about their color selection for 2016. "Our lives are stressful, and what we're seeing is consumers trying to cut out that noise by balancing the fast pace, their fractured lives, their hurried lives, with some downtime and some calm, and the opportunity to just switch off."

Perhaps, if we’re all outfitted in light pinks, and sit in rooms accessorized with muted blue pillows, and cook with kitchen appliances in shades of dusty rose, perhaps we will feel calmer, at peace. Perhaps. Wouldn't that be wonderful?

Here’s hoping for 2016 to be a year of serenity. Hey, if baby blue can bring about world peace, I’m all for it.

Nyla Smith is a Graphic Designer, Web Designer, Front-End Web Developer and Consultant with over 13 years of experience. She is the owner of n-Vision Designs, LLC in Hampton, Virginia, which exists to provide marketing support and brand consulting to small- and medium-sized businesses needing creative solutions. Contact Nyla if you'd like to discuss your next creative project. She can usually be bribed to a meeting with a cup of green tea and an oatmeal cookie.
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