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Explore every Pantone Colour of the Year since 2000

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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Colour giant Pantone has revealed yearly prediction for the colour of the year since 2000 chosen through in-depth trend forecasting, as well as socio-economic conditions, lifestyle and political influences, such as fashion, entertainment and travel destinations.

These colour predictions have also been influenced by new technologies, materials, textures, social media platforms and even upcoming sporting events that capture worldwide attention, explains Pantone.

Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, said in 2017: “The Pantone Colour 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.

“As individuals around the world become more fascinated with colour and realise its ability to convey deep messages and meanings, designers and brands should feel empowered to use colour to inspire and influence. The Colour of the Year is one moment in time that provides strategic direction for the world of trend and design, reflecting the Pantone Color Institute’s year-round work doing the same for designers and brands.”

Since 2000, Pantone has unveiled a rose quartz, a tranquil blue, an earthy wine red, as well as a radiant orchid as the colour of the year. Each was selected to serve as an expression of a mood or attitude to resonate globally while influencing product development and purchasing decisions across fashion, home furnishings, and industrial design, as well as product packaging and graphic design.

Each year typically has one colour of the year, however, Pantone has chosen two hues for 2016 and again for 2021.

Pantone Colour of the Year 2000-2021

2000 - Cerulean

Pantone’s first colour of the year in 2000 was ‘Cerulean Blue’, referred to as the “colour for the millennium”. The hue was chosen to reflect the colour of the sky on a serene, crystal clear day, to offer a sense of inner peace and spiritual fulfilment.

2001 - Fuchsia Rose

The bright, feel-good feminine pink colour, ‘Fuchsia Rose’ was chosen for its passionate, intense and exciting, yet also warm and endearing feel.

2002 - True Red

In 2002, Pantone selected the vivid ‘True Red’ colour for its association with love, power and passion, as well as its deep and meaningful hue.

2003 - Aqua Sky

This light blue-green, ‘Aqua Sky’ shade was chosen for being soft, calm and cool and offering a serene quality.

2004 - Tigerlily

For 2004, Pantone went back to a bold hue with ‘Tigerlily’. Drawing inspiration from the flower around us, the warm orange hue contains both red and yellow to evoke power, passion and rejuvenation.

2005 - Blue Turquoise

Pantone loves to showcase blue tones as its colour of the year and for 2005 it looked to the sea with a calming and reassuring ‘Blue Turquoise’, a gentler tone than true Turquoise with less green to produce a cooler hue.

2006 - Sand Dollar

Taking inspiration from the concerns about the 2006 economy, Pantone selected ‘Sand Dollar’ a neutral shade that was a stark contrast from the bright hues it usually chose. The warm shade, reminiscent of the desert and soft sandy beaches, was selected to relax and soothe and to cater to the trend of natural and organic.

2007 - Chili Pepper

In 2007, Pantone offered a “jolt of energy and inspiration’ with the deep, spicy red ‘‘Chili Pepper’ hue. The bold, eye-catching colour was chosen as it connotes an outgoing, confident, design-savvy attitude to allow fashion and personal expression.

“Whether expressing danger, celebration, love or passion, red will not be ignored,” explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “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 colour red. At the same time, Chili Pepper speaks to a certain level of confidence and taste.”

2008 - Blue Iris

Combining the stable and calming aspects of blue with the mystical and spiritual qualities of purple, ‘Blue Iris’ satisfies the need for reassurance in a complex world while adding a hint of mystery and excitement.

“Pantone has selected Blue Iris as the colour of the year, as it best represents colour direction in 2008 for fashion, cosmetics and home products,” said Eiseman. “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. Look for it artfully combined with deeper plums, red-browns, yellow-greens, grapes and grays.”

2009 - Mimosa

A warm and engaging yellow, ‘Mimosa’ was chosen in a time of economic uncertainty and political change. Pantone stated that optimism is paramount and no other colour expresses hope and reassurance more than yellow. It was also selected for its versatility, as it is a shade that coordinates with any other colour, has appeal for men and women, and translates to both fashion and interiors.

Eiseman, added: “The colour 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.”

2010 - Turquoise

Similar to 2005, ‘Turquoise’ is an inviting, luminous hue that combines the serene qualities of blue and the invigorating aspects of green. The soothing colour is believed to be a protective talisman in some cultures and has a deeper meaning of compassion and healing, and a colour of faith and truth, inspired by water and sky.

2011 - Honeysuckle

Described as a colour for all seasons, the reddish-pink ‘Honeysuckle’ hue was selected for being encouraging and uplifting. The reinvigorating shade was chosen to offer confidence, courage and spirit.

Eiseman described Honeysuckle as a “captivating, stimulating colour that gets the adrenaline going.”

2012 - Tangerine Tango

Pantone called on everyone to dance into the new year for its 2012 colour of the year ‘Tangerine Tango’. The spirited reddish orange, reminiscent of the radiant shadings of a sunset, was selected to provide an energy boost and a recharge to move forward.

“Sophisticated but at the same time dramatic and seductive, Tangerine Tango is an orange with a lot of depth to it,” said Eiseman. “Tangerine Tango marries the vivaciousness and adrenaline rush of red with the friendliness and warmth of yellow, to form a high-visibility, magnetic hue that emanates heat and energy.”

2013 - Emerald

Following a bold orange, Pantone chose a lively, radiant, lush ‘Emerald’ green for 2013 to enhance wellbeing by promoting balance and harmony. Most often associated with brilliant, precious gemstones, the perception of ‘Emerald’ is sophisticated and luxurious, however, Pantone adds that the colour also represents growth, renewal, prosperity, healing and unity.

2014 - Radiant Orchid

An enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones, ‘Radiant Orchid’ inspires confidence and emanates great joy, love and health. Described as a “dazzling attention-getter” by Pantone, the rosy undertones of the colour radiate on the skin, producing a healthy glow when worn by both men and women, so was popular fashion.

2015 - Marsala

A naturally robust and earthy wine red, ‘Marsala’ is described by Pantone as a “rich and charismatic” hue that is said to “enrich minds, bodies and souls.” The colour was selected to have universal appeal and for its ability to translate to fashion, beauty, and interiors.

Eiseman, explained: “Much like the fortified wine that gives Marsala its name, this tasteful hue embodies the satisfying richness of a fulfilling meal while it’s grounding red-brown roots emanate a sophisticated, natural earthiness.”

2016 - Rose Quartz and Serenity

For the first time, Pantone chose two colours for 2016, ‘Rose Quartz,’ a “warmer embracing rose tone” and ‘Serenity,’ a “cooler tranquil blue”. The combination was to offer a soothing sense of order and peace, as well as showcase a gender blur coinciding with increasing social movements toward gender equality and fluidity.

2017 - Greenery

For 2017 the colour specialists picked ‘Greenery’, a “refreshing and revitalising shade” that it says is symbolic of new beginnings to serves as an expression of the current global mood, following the 2016 presidential election. The fresh and zesty yellow-green shade Pantone added evokes the first days of spring when “nature’s greens revive, restore and renew”.

Eiseman, said: “Greenery bursts forth in 2017 to provide us with the hope we collectively yearn for amid a complex social and political landscape. Satisfying our growing desire to rejuvenate, revitalise and unite, Greenery symbolises the reconnection we seek with nature, one another and a larger purpose.”

2018 - Ultra Violet

The blue-purple hue is said to represent “originality, ingenuity and visionary thinking”. With Pantone adding that the enigmatic ‘Ultra Violet’ shade is “symbolic of counterculture, unconventionality, and artistic brilliance”. The colour has often been associated with musical icons including David Bowie, Prince and Jimi Hendrix.

2019 - Living Coral

An animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energises and enlivens with a softer edge was selected for 2019. The vibrant, yet mellow ’Living Coral’ colour was in reaction to what Pantone called the “onslaught of digital technology and social media” and was to symbolise “our innate need for optimism and joyful pursuits”.

2020 - Classic Blue

‘Classic Blue’ was chosen for being “solid and dependable” going into the new decade while offering a “reassuring presence instilling calm, confidence, and connection”. Unlike previous blue hues seen in 2000, 2003, 2005 and 2016, ‘Classic Blue’ is a darker, elegant, more traditional blue that “brings a sense of peace and tranquillity to the human spirit, offering refuge,” which evokes the sky at dusk, blueberries and even the classic Pepsi can and Pantone adds is a “universal favourite”.

Eiseman, said: “Imbued with a deep resonance, Pantone 19-4052 Classic Blue provides an anchoring foundation. A boundless blue evocative of the vast and infinite evening sky, Classic Blue encourages us to look beyond the obvious to expand our thinking; challenging us to think more deeply, increase our perspective and open the flow of communication.”

2021- Illuminating and Ultimate Gray

For the second time, Pantone chose two colours for 2021, a cheerful yellow ‘Illuminating’ shade and a cool grey, ‘Ultimate Gray’, which when teamed together creates an “an aspirational colour pairing” explains Pantone, “conjoining deeper feelings of thoughtfulness with the optimistic promise of a sunshine filled day”.

The two colours were selected to symbolise unity and stability, as well as give people a way to “fortify themselves with energy, clarity and hope to overcome the continuing uncertainty”.

Eiseman, said in a statement: “The selection of two independent colours highlight how different elements come together to express a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting, conveying the idea that it’s not about one colour or one person, it’s about more than one.

“The union of an enduring ‘Ultimate Gray’ with the vibrant yellow ‘Illuminating’ expresses a message of positivity supported by fortitude. Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, this is a colour combination that gives us resilience and hope. We need to feel encouraged and uplifted, this is essential to the human spirit.”

Images: courtesy of Pantone