Sea reefs and sun­sets

Liv­ing Co­ral is the hug­gable colour of the year

The Observer (Sarnia) - - LIFE - LEANNE ITALIE

NEW YORK — It’s the colour of un­der­wa­ter reefs hang­ing on for dear life. The sky at dusk. Some of the lat­est iPhones and the lat­est looks on the run­ways of Marc Ja­cobs and other top fash­ion de­sign­ers. Liv­ing Co­ral has been cho­sen by the Pan­tone Color In­sti­tute as its 2019 colour of the year.

Can a colour be con­vivial? Lau­rie Press­man, the com­pany’s vi­cepres­i­dent, con­sid­ers this sat­u­rated orange base with a golden un­der­tone not only warm and wel­com­ing but ver­sa­tile and life-af­firm­ing. It en­er­gizes with a softer edge than, say, its pas­tel and neon colour cousins.

“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,” Press­man said. “We’re look­ing to­ward those colours that bring nour­ish­ment and the com­fort and fa­mil­iar­ity that make us feel good. It’s not too heavy. We want to play. We want to be up­lifted.”

But do we want to run to­ward this colour of grand­moth­ers? Press­man also sees a retro vibe to Liv­ing Co­ral, in the same way a softer ver­sion of the 2018 pick, Ul­tra Vi­o­let, is the shade of some grey heads when hair ton­ers bring on a turn to pur­ple.

“It’s the emo­tional nour­ish­ment. It’s a big hug,” she said of Liv­ing Co­ral.

How im­por­tant colour anal­y­sis is when weighed against, well, the rest of the world is in the eye of the beholder. Pan­tone is a for­profit en­ter­prise that fore­casts colour trends, an­a­lyzes the psy­chol­ogy of colour and ad­vises com­pa­nies on colour for prod­uct pack­ag­ing and brand iden­tity. Its wares come with price tags, but nearly 20 years of choos­ing colours of the year has been a use­ful mar­ket­ing strat­egy and free, free, free.

Liv­ing Co­ral is as­cend­ing, Press­man said, at a time when bleach­ing due to cli­mate change con­tin­ues to rob ac­tual co­ral reefs of their rain­bows. It’s a colour that seems to work for ev­ery­body, across the gen­der spec­trum in ap­parel and across seg­ments, from art and house­wares to home in­te­ri­ors and in­dus­trial de­sign.

The colour also points to a long and of­ten painful slog over the last decade or so through fi­nan­cial mar­ket scares and po­lit­i­cal crises to en­vi­ron­men­tal chaos and the rise of so­cial me­dia, where sat­u­rated colour pre­sides, Press­man said.

“We’re see­ing so much more sat­u­rated colour,” she said. “That’s the in­flu­ence of so­cial me­dia be­cause peo­ple want things to stand out. This is def­i­nitely a colour you see on so­cial me­dia.”

Liv­ing Co­ral is viv­i­fy­ing, but it’s “not so over­pow­er­ing and in your face,” she said. “It’s bright enough, and en­gag­ing.”

Of­fi­cially, Liv­ing Co­ral is Pan­tone 16-1546. Ever won­der what those Pan­tone num­bers are all about? Well, they’re bro­ken into three pairs and re­fer to a colour’s level of light­ness, hue and “chroma,” on var­i­ous scales. What, you ask, is chroma? It’s a de­scrip­tion that com­bines hue and sat­u­ra­tion. A set of let­ters af­ter the num­bers in­di­cate the ma­te­rial or sub­stance upon which the colour was printed or oth­er­wise placed, such as dyed cot­ton or pa­per.

Com­ing up with such colour stan­dards is one of those other things Pan­tone does when it’s not an­nounc­ing colours of the year.

Be­fore Ul­tra Vi­o­let was cho­sen for 2018, there was Green­ery the year be­fore. In 2016, Pan­tone picked a duo for the first time: Seren­ity (a baby blue), and Rose Quartz (a light pink).

The se­lec­tion process spans the year. Pan­tone’s ex­perts travel the world in search of colour in­flu­ences that gained mo­men­tum, from the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try and trav­el­ling art col­lec­tions to fash­ion and beauty trends, travel des­ti­na­tions and spe­cialty shows for de­sign and decor.


A model wear­ing a co­ral out­fit from the Marc Ja­cobs spring 2019 col­lec­tion dur­ing Fash­ion Week in New York. Pan­tone Color In­sti­tute has cho­sen the color Liv­ing Co­ral as its 2019 color of the year.

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