Can Hue Guess The Pantone Of The Year?

April 11, 2018

Without looking, if someone asked you what last year’s Pantone color was, would you know? Would you be one of many (me!) who thought 2017 was ruled by the airy hues of millennial pink?

If so, you’re dead wrong. But that’s okay, because so was I, and it’s unlikely we’re the only ones. If you find yourself frantically googling “Pantone of the year,” don’t fret; I’m here to spill the colorful beans on last year and give you a little insight into how the lucky color is chosen each year.

Before I get into the details of how a color is chosen each year, I know you’re dyeing to know what 2017 was all about. The 2017 color of the year was Pantone 15-0343, also known as Greenery. Looks like this, and also like this or this. The color symbolizes a fresh start, a new beginning, a revitalizing shade that evokes newness. Does this resonate with you? Did you take on new challenges or hobbies in 2017? I have to say, Pantone hit it right on the money for me. 2017 was all about embracing new.

Now, on to the decisionmaking process of choosing a color. Every year, since 2000, a group of elite color experts from around the world get together for a secret two-day meeting to present their top color choices for the upcoming year. Although a tedious two days of debating, collaborating, and decisionmaking takes place, the real work comes months before this event.

Tastemakers spanning multiple industries, including fashion, pop culture, technology, travel and music, search the globe looking for trends in hues. Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of Pantone, says, “It has to resonate around the world, to express in color what is taking place in the global zeitgeist.” A chromatic sign of the times, if you will.

Some critics out there argue the color chooses itself. It’s the age-old deliberation of chicken-and-egg: Are we seeing the color everywhere because it was designed that way, or did these color trends organically come into being? Which do you agree with? Whichever it may be, the outcome of this top-secret meeting results in Pantone refining the swatch to make the perfect tint and an in-depth exploration of how the color can be used in fabrics (fashion, decorating), hues (hello, makeup!) and print (advertising). The culmination of all of this is made available through a book called Pantone View, which goes on sale in December to coincide with the public announcement/color reveal.

Okay, now that you know how a color is chosen, can you guess this year’s Pantone without Googling? Maybe this or this will give you a hint! Still can’t get enough? Great! Check out this video to learn how the color guides are produced — spoiler alert: you must have near-perfect color vision to work in this lab. Finally, here is an overview of 19 Pantone colors to date and also, my personal favorite take on any Pantone matching, food!