For two decades, the International Colour Institute, Pantone, has influenced purchasing, product development and design across multiple industries. They don’t invent the colour, they research it – globally. Though the colour dialects aren’t as easy to decipher as they may seem…
What came first, we can’t know for certain. Whether your Microsoft Office software packaging, Apple iPhone or next pair of Nike takkies come in “living coral” because of the trend, or or have determined the trend it is unclear.
Globally, numerous events random alone, present a bigger, congruent picture. For instance, a public art exhibition on Hilton Island in the StatesUS has among its works Coral Stardust, a steel sculpture by Elizabeth Y Akamatsu, inspired by the appreciation of our natural world, with an aesthetic informed by her Japanese heritage.
Also from Japan, animé pop culture phenomenon PokemonPokémon makes a silver screen debut in May 2019 with Detective Pikachu, a film starring Ryan Reynolds. (Cue Pokémon paraphernalia coming to a T-shirt, lunch box and cellphone case near you.) The genre draws on the shades of classical Japanese dance drama, Kkabuki, which includes a soft, warm brown that wavers on either side of the colour wheel.
Gunther Kress and Theo van Leeuwen, who write about the grammar of grammar of visual design, remind us that colour has psychological meaning, psychologically associated to the past and to the present.
(Colour – hue, saturation, purity, modulation, differentiation – are distinguishing features semantically and therefore meaning can be multiple.)
Colour is culture, expressed in entertainment, art, fashion and design, often determined by political and socio-economic conditions, technological advancements, sports, celebrity and the like.
Which is why “living coral”, announced as colour of the year by Pantone last week, appears to beis spot on.
In decor’s wabi sabi movement, warmth prevails, and while too many earthy tones can feel apathetic, a colour like coral is cosy but enlivening.
Colour schemes in 2019 are definitely warm. Dulux colour of the year Spiced Honey has a golden, energised undertone.
Sherwin-Williams’s warm colour of the year, Cavern Clay, isn’t far off, sitting between orange and brown.
They describe their earth hue as ancient, yet fully alive. Bohemian, yet totally refined.” It is similar to popular terra cotta shades and falls between orange and brown.
In fashion, as Glamour has pronounced, it is a “fantastic make-up colour” that appears to works on all skin tones.Online, the digital world has already embraced the colour - that from a marketing perspective may even be considered an aggressive sell.
Pantone describe living coral as “a life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energises and enlivens with a softer edge.
“In reaction to the onslaught of digital technology and social media increasingly embedding into daily life, we are seeking authentic and immersive experiences that enable connection and intimacy.
“In its glorious, yet unfortunately more elusive, display beneath the sea... Living Coral is evocative of how coral reefs provide shelter to a diverse kaleidoscope of colour.”
Laurie Pressman, the Pantone Color Institute’s vice president, told the Associated Press, “The Pantone Color 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,” Pressman explained last year.”