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Pantone hopes its ‘life-affirming’ colour of the year will make everyone feel better

Citing consumers’ desire for real human connections amid an
increasingly negative social media landscape, the trend
forecasters and colour experts at Pantone have selected Living
Coral, a “life-affirming” and “nurturing” shade, as 2019’s
colour of the year. The announcement was made Wednesday at Art
Basel Miami Beach.

“With everything that’s going on today, we’re looking for those
humanizing qualities because we’re seeing online life
dehumanizing a lot of things,” Laurie Pressman, the Pantone
Color Institute’s vice president, told the Associated Press.
“We’re looking toward those colours that bring nourishment and
the comfort and familiarity that make us feel good.”

Since 2000, Pantone has been analyzing cultural trends in order
to predict what colour will be ubiquitous in the art, fashion
and design worlds in the coming year. But more recently, the
company has hinted that it’s hoping to influence society, too.
“The Pantone Color of the Year has come to mean so much more
than ‘what’s trending’ in the world of design; it’s truly a
reflection of what’s needed in our world today,” Pressman
explained last year.

Last December, the company selected Ultra Violet, a
“dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade” inspired
by Prince and reminiscent of grape soda, as its colour of the
year for 2018. A company executive noted at the time that the
colour combined blue and red, “two shades that are seemingly
diametrically opposed.” For some, the announcement read as a
coded call for bipartisanship in a period of political
polarization.

Previous announcements have been less subtle: In 2017, the
colour of the year was Greenery, a bright spring green that
Pantone suggested would “provide us with the hope we
collectively yearn for amid a complex social and political
landscape.” And the year before that, the colour institute
chose two colours – a baby blue and a pale pink – citing
“societal movements toward gender equality and fluidity.”

Living Coral was chosen because it conveys a sense of optimism.
“In reaction to the onslaught of digital technology and social
media increasingly embedding into daily life, we are seeking
authentic and immersive experiences that enable connection and
intimacy,” the company explained in a news release, suggesting
that the orange-pink hue would offer “comfort and buoyancy in
our continually shifting environment.”

The tropically-inspired colour choice also deliberately evokes
undersea coral reefs, which are rapidly disappearing due to
climate change. Speaking to Quartz, Pressman said that the
environment had been the company’s “overriding influence” this
year.

This
Sept. 12, 2018 file photo shows a model wearing a coral outfit
from the Marc Jacobs spring 2019 collection during Fashion Week
in New York.
Kevin Hagen/AP

Previous years’ choices have been somewhat divisive: Ultra
Violet, last year’s deep purple selection, was derided by
commenters on the home decorating blog Apartment Therapy as
“Barney-tastic” and “the absolute ‘it’ colour to paint your
room in the 6th grade.” As for Greenery, the colour of the year
for 2017, one interior decorator told The Washington Post that
it was “a bit acidic and would not be my choice for a wall
colour and would be unflattering with some skin tones.”

But the early reaction to Living Coral has been positive so far
– Glamour called it a “fantastic makeup shade,” while GQ
suggested that the warm, mellow hue “will cheer you up.” The
saturated tone complements most skin colours, Fast Company
noted, adding that coral invokes 1950s and 1960s Americana
“without the patriotic baggage of red, white, and blue.”

Will it solve the problems of the world? Probably not. But,
talking to the AP, Pressman described the colour as providing a
sense of “emotional nourishment.”

“It’s a big hug,” she said.

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