Pantone picked Ultra Violet for its much-anticipated Colour of the Year 2018 announcement. While the shade has proven to be a divisive topic among designers, one thing is clear: the year belongs to violet.
Widely regarded as the global authority on colour, New York-based Pantone has turned simple colours into a culture-shifting design phenomenon. Eagerly anticipated each year, Pantone’s Colour of the Year announcement drums up palpable excitement among interior designers.
This year’s chosen hue is Ultra Violet, a dark, provocative colour that understandably evokes strong reactions. It is, after all, one of the most complex colours, created by combining two opposing colours on the spectrum – red and blue.
“It communicates originality, ingenuity and visionary thinking,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “It is found in the cosmos (think of all those swirling purple nebulae), the wellness movement (amethyst crystals) and was a favourite colour of legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who reportedly used to wear a purple cape when he was trying to be creative.”
In a more modern context, late musicians Prince and David Bowie were big fans of purple.
After 2016’s more pastel offerings of Rose Quartz and Serenity – essentially pale pink and powder blue – the list was followed up in 2017 with the nature-inspired Greenery, representing hope and vigour.
But who decides which shade of blue, green or yellow the world needs now? Is this the work of an intelligent algorithm which randomly throws up a colour each year? Interestingly, there seems to be a whole lot of travel and data science behind the exercise.
The experts at Pantone go beyond the colour charts to arrive at the chosen shade by scouring the world to look for signals in such mundane things as food, cars, clothes and housewares, as well as art and pop culture happenings. The colour hunters then bring back huge amounts of data, which are collectively analysed to reveal the colour of the year.
Over the years, the news, which was possibly only important to design industry professionals, has now entered the mainstream consciousness via products such as interior accessories, clothes, cosmetics and automobiles as well as social media platforms.
On the back of this annual announcement, colour forecasting has turned into a big creative and commercial opportunity for designers and lifestyle companies alike. This year’s anointed colour, Ultra Violet, has already made its way into interiors in the form of furniture upholstery, soft furnishings, wall paint, surface tiles and accessories.
Both designers and brands have been quick to realise the significance of this trend prediction in their business. Blue-chip companies such as Apple, have been known to embrace consumer preference for certain colours. Some even go to the extent of trademarking colours associated with their brand identity. Cases in point are Tiffany’s robin’s egg blue and 3M’s canary yellow post-it notes.
Experts at Pantone feel that Ultra Violet can either transform any interior space into a bold statement of self-expression, or create a more luxe surrounding when paired with subdued and modern furnishings such as tufted sofas, pieces of art or accent walls.
Particularly in areas of hospitality design, rich colours such as purple are being widely used in hotels’ public areas by designers who are using colour to create distinct sensory experiences.
In addition to Ultra Violet, Pantone’s 2018 interiors colour palette includes Playful, an array of “lollipop colours” that we can expect to see not only in residential projects but also retail and commercial developments.