The PANTONE® Color of the Year is so much more than a swatch. It inspires trends from interior design to sneakers, influences branding in every industry and captures the emotional tone of the year for posterity. Pantone’s color chart provides color codes to ensure accurate communication for designers across the globe.
The Pantone Color Institute
conducts research on how color influences human thought processes, emotions and physical reactions to help professionals utilize it more effectively. This Institute has selected a color each year since 2000 that best represents the design trends and global zeitgeist of the times. Let’s take a look back over the past 18 years of Pantone colors…
Pantone 15-4020 Cerulean
Pantone’s first choice wasn’t just the color of the year, it was the color of the millennium.
Pantone stated, “Lifestyle movements suggest that consumers will be seeking inner peace and spiritual fulfillment in the new millennium. This is a paradoxical time in which we are heading toward an uncertain, yet exciting, future, and also looking back, trying to hold onto the security of the past. In this stressful, high-tech era, we will be searching for solace and Cerulean Blue produces the perfect calming effect.”
Pantone 17-2031 Fuchsia Rose
As we moved into the 21st century the next selection was much more excitable: a feminine and sexy dark pink that was very different from the calm blue of 2000. Fuchsia Rose was a popular hue in 2001 in web design and for
as a pop of color in otherwise neutral pallets.
Pantone 19-1664 True Red
As the nation recovered slowly from the 9/11 terrorist attacks Pantone chose True Red as a meaningful and patriotic hue. Red is known as a color of power and passion. It was used frequently in men’s clothing and print design in 2002 but was too intense for most home décor.
Pantone14-4811 Aqua Sky
A cool blue was chosen in hopes to restore hope and serenity. This quiet blue is more calming and cool than other blue-greens. It was popular in women’s fashion that year and also faux-mod furniture design.
Pantone 17-1456 Tiger Lily
This warm orange has a touch of exoticism, maybe as an ode to the international connections being forged by the large expansion of the European Union, the 2004 Summer Olympics in Greece and the global outpouring of empathy and assistance for the victims of the deadly tsunamis across southern Asia. Tiger Lily was everywhere in
event color schemes
in 2004, paired with peaches and greens for spring and browns for autumn events.
Pantone Blue Turquoise 15-5217
Following the theme of nature from 2004's Tiger Lily, Blue Turquoise was named the 2005 Color of the Year. This calm blue is the color of the sea and is also used frequently in tapestries and other artworks from the American Southwest. It’d different from true turquoise in that it is a cooler tone with less green, making it a little gentler.
Pantone 13-1106 Sand Dollar
In 2006 the sub-prime mortgage crisis set off a global chain reaction of financial crisis. While the Color of the Year is usually bright, the neutral Sand Dollar was chosen possibly to express concern about the economy. Recalling desert and other outdoor environments, it was a fashionable choice for interior design and graphic designers looking to express a natural and organic feeling for brands.
Pantone 19-1557 Chili Pepper
In 2007 Pantone began publishing press releases about the Color of the Year, giving the design world insight into the choice from Leatrice Eiseman, the executive director of the Pantone Color Institute.
“In 2007, there is an awareness of the melding of diverse cultural influences, and Chili Pepper is a reflection of exotic tastes both on the tongue and to the eye. Nothing reflects the spirit of adventure more than the color red. At the same time, Chili Pepper speaks to a certain level of confidence and taste. Incorporating this color into your wardrobe and living space adds drama and excitement, as it stimulates the senses,” Eiseman explained.
Pantone 18-3943 Blue Iris
Blue Iris is a dramatic and bold hue that makes a statement in clothing and home goods. In 2008 it was often paired with creams and tans in home décor and was seen replacing neutrals on women’s basics such as trench coats, pea coats and tights.
Eiseman said, "As a reflection of the times, Blue Iris brings together the dependable aspect of blue, underscored by a strong, soul-searching purple cast. Emotionally, it is anchoring and meditative with a touch of magic.”
Pantone 14-0848 Mimosa
While the nation was still facing rampant unemployment and economic stagnation, a new president was inaugurated and there was a sense of hope. Mimosa was especially popular for women’s formal wear that year, maybe inspired by
Angelina Jolie’s stunning dress
at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.
"The color yellow exemplifies the warmth and nurturing quality of the sun, properties we as humans are naturally drawn to for reassurance. Mimosa also speaks to enlightenment, as it is a hue that sparks imagination and innovation,” Eiseman stated at the time.
Pantone 15-5519 Turquoise
In 2010 the financial crisis was still affecting many Americans and Pantone decided we could all use a little escape.
“[Turquoise] is believed to be a protective talisman, a color of deep compassion and healing, and a color of faith and truth, inspired by water and sky. Through years of color word-association studies, we also find that Turquoise represents an escape to many – taking them to a tropical paradise that is pleasant and inviting, even if only a fantasy,” Eiseman explained.
Pantone 18-2120 Honeysuckle
In 2011 Pantone selected Honeysuckle, a dynamic reddish pink. Pantone also released a popular line of bridesmaid dresses with
The Dessy Group
in 200 colors and the Honeysuckle dress was everywhere at 2011 weddings
The release stated, “[Honeysuckle] emboldens us to face everyday troubles with verve and vigor…Honeysuckle is encouraging and uplifting. It elevates our psyche beyond escape, instilling the confidence, courage and spirit to meet the exhaustive challenges that have become part of everyday life.”
Pantone 17-1463 Tangerine Tango
Tangerine Tango is an optimistic reddish orange. This color was featured prominently by fashion designers in 2012 with Tommy Hilfiger, Nanette Lepore, Elie Tahari and Adrienne Vittadini showcasing it in their spring collections.
The release announcing its selection states, “[Tangerine Tango] continues to provide the energy boost we need to recharge and move forward.”
Pantone 17-5641 Emerald Green
Vivid and verdant, Emerald reflected the renewal and growth the nation was relieved to experience in 2013. Emerald represents prosperity, sophistication and luxury in many cultures making it a stylish choice for high-end fashion and home goods.
Eiseman said in the press release, “As it has throughout history, multifaceted Emerald continues to sparkle and fascinate. Symbolically, Emerald brings a sense of clarity, renewal and rejuvenation, which is so important in today’s complex world.”
Pantone 18-3224 Radiant Orchid
Which brings us to the Pantone Color of the Year 2014, Radiant Orchid. This bright combination of fuchsia, purple and pink encourages originality and creativity, which makes sense for a year that’s seeing amazing technology breakthroughs and the continued rise of small business success in America. Eiseman explained her choice for the Pantone Color of 2014:
“…Radiant Orchid inspires confidence and emanates great joy, love and health. It is a captivating purple, one that draws you in with its beguiling charm,”
2015 – Pantone 18-1438 Marsala
Inspired by the strong fortified wine bearing the same namesake, Marsala was the color chosen for 2015. A deep earthy reddish-brown made for an amazing accent color for the home, clothing, and accessories. Pantone states that’s “Marsala enriches our minds, bodies and souls.”
Leatrice Eiseman, the Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute says of the classic color, “Marsala is a subtly seductive shade, one that draws us in to its embracing warmth.” It’s a color that is universally appealing and “translates easily to fashion, beauty, industrial design, home furnishings and interiors.”
2016 – Pantone 13-1520 + Pantone 15-3919 Rose Quartz and Serenity
For the first time in their history Pantone decided to choose two colors for the 2016 color of the year. Based on what they saw culturally and societally within the changing gender movement, Pantone chose two colors that can be blended together and change. They sought to challenge the traditional views of color association.
On the two-color choice Eiseman said, “Joined together, Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.”
2017 – Pantone 15-0343 Greenery
2017 brought us a bright inspiring yellow-green as the color of the year. A color meant to remind us all of a fresh spring day, where you wake up to the birds chirping and step outside to breathe in the fresh clean air. This color was inspired by the return to nature. Pantone states “The more submerged people are in modern life, the greater their innate craving to immerse themselves in the physical beauty and inherent unity of the natural world. This shift is reflected by the proliferation of all things expressive of Greenery in daily lives through urban planning, architecture, lifestyle and design choices globally.”
Eiseman states “Greenery bursts forth in 2017 to provide us with the reassurance we yearn for amid a tumultuous social and political environment. Satisfying our growing desire to rejuvenate and revitalize, Greenery symbolizes the re-connection we seek with nature, one another and a larger purpose.”
2018 – Pantone 18-3838 Ultra Violet
In 2018 Pantone chose a color that was heavily based on our love of exploration that also pays homage to lost legends. Ultra Violet is a dramatic and mysterious purple shade meant to evoke the vast night sky. Inspired by the new space race, this color also looks back on the people who made purple what it is – icons like Prince, David Bowie, and Jimi Hendrix.
“We are living in a time that requires inventiveness and imagination” says Leatrice Eiseman. “It is this kind of creative inspiration that is indigenous to PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet, a blue-based purple that takes our awareness and potential to a higher level. From exploring new technologies and the greater galaxy, to artistic expression and spiritual reflection intuitive Ultra Violet lights the way to what is yet to come.
Do you remember these color trends throughout the years? You may recall them better than other events because
shows our memory works better with color than black and white. Perhaps something to consider in your future store décor and brand design…