When you really take a step back, it feels strange that Pantone only started annually crowning the Color of the Year in 2000. Since then, we as a society have become fixated on what the global design company will hail as the groundbreaking palette for the present period. It doesn't take long for consumer brands to hop on board and feed into the obsession until all we see for months is hues of whatever was chosen. In the span of 20 years, Pantone has gained the public's full trust in setting color-matching standards on an international level so that we might all master the universal language of visual perception.
Ahead of entering the deep sea of "Classic Blue" that has been announced for 2020, it's worth examining how Pantone defined the decade with its beloved swatches. Highsnobiety recently consulted Nicole Pivirotto, the founder of IrisEyris, to engage in a vibrant discussion about the intent behind this ongoing endeavor.
The Brooklyn-based digital art designer is the creator of The Prism Oracle, an insightful deck that navigates the relationship between feelings and colors. She believes that "the exploration between emotion and color is a great way to enhance your daily life" and makes a huge impact because it can "change your mindset and overall energy."
"I have always referenced the psychological meanings behind colors in order to enhance a client's branding, website, or ad campaign," she explains. "I also have a spiritual practice, and in my esoteric studies, I found that there’s a huge overlap between the energetic properties and psychological properties of color. The idea of The Prism Oracle was born from this. The concept that color is deeply intertwined with our intuition, and can be used as a way to access it."
Here, she provides her personal interpretation about the selections along with a brief reflection on how it connects with the trends and events that were going on during that period in popular culture. In terms of turning our vision forward into the future, Pivirotto views "Classic Blue" as a symbol for cleansing as we flow into the next decade and release ourselves from the past. Scroll down for a rewind of the timeline and for our colorful conversation with Pivirotto.
In general, I've always wondered why we as a society continue to be obsessed with Pantone's Color of the Year. Why do you think people still care about it?
I think people’s obsession with Pantone’s Color of Year really stems from the fact that we are hard-wired as humans to have a visceral response color. Color is tied to our psychological responses and emotions. We also have so many cultural connections with color. Plus, color is fun and playful. All of this together turns color into a universal language, which makes it natural for us to be interested and react to it.
Pantone started doing this in 2000, but when you take a step back and look at the color block from 2010-2020, what are you seeing visually?
Something interesting that I’m noticing is the fact that 2000, 2010, and 2020 are all shades of blue. This points to the fact that blue is a very transitional color, so I think it's incredibly fascinating that it's consistently chosen as the color for the turn of a decade.
I’m not really seeing a specific pattern coming up from 2010-2020. The colors from 2010-2014 all have a fun, beachy, almost carefree vibe. But that changes in 2015, with the grounded and slightly bland energy that comes with Marsala. 2016 is two colors, which I realize represents gender fluidity, but visually comes across as division, which makes me think of the election. After that it looks like we turn to a rebalancing with green, connection to intuition with purple—this could be a signal of the rise of witchcraft, astrology, and all things magical—and finally coral which is warm and inviting.
As we turn our vision forward into the future, what do you predict for 2020 based on the choice of "Classic Blue"?
This is a very interesting question, and one that I’ve been thinking about ever since they released the color choice of “Classic Blue.” I feel like this shade of blue has two very different energies. This shade of blue is used by many large corporations—mostly banks and tech companies—in order to convey a sense of trustworthiness and stability.
I think that this points to the fact that our relationship with these types of corporations is changing, and more focus is being placed upon them. It also asks us to consider our relationship with these types of industries, how they are serving us, and how it impacts our lives.
The other element of the shade of blue is the fact that it’s tied to the water element. Which represents cleanse and flow. 2020 marks a new beginning within a ten-year cycle. This allows us to wash away the past while moving forward towards the future. It asks, how can you release what has not served you in the past, as you follow the current into this new decade?
Why is it so important to set the tone for a new year with a specific color?
There are a couple of different reasons why color is an important factor for setting a tone for the year. At a consumer level, the color of the year helps predict trends in media, art, and design. On a personal level, it's nice to pick a color that connects with an intention or energy that you’d like to bring more of into your life. For example, using the color green to help set an intention of abundance and balance would be a beautiful way to kick off the new year.
An inviting, luminous hue combining inspiring thoughts of soothing, tropical waters.
A bright, sherberty pink shade, uplifting and optimistic, evoking nostalgic feelings of summertime.
Tangerine Tango (2012)
A vivacious, magnetic hue that emanates heat and energy.
Lively, radiant, lush… A color of elegance and beauty that enhances our sense of well-being, balance and harmony.
Radiant Orchid (2014)
Expressive, exotic, and blooming with confidence and warmth.
A naturally robust and earthy wine red that is an elegant, grounded statement color when used on its own or as a strong accent to many other colors.
Serenity & Rose Quartz (2016)
The inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.
A refreshing, revitalizing, and life-affirming shade symbolic of new beginnings and the pursuit of personal passions and vitality.
Ultra Violet (2018)
A dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade that communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us toward the future.
Living Coral (2019)
An animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energizes and enlivens with a softer edge.
Classic Blue (2020)
Instilling calm, confidence, and connection, this enduring blue hue highlights our desire for a dependable and stable foundation on which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era.