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The colour of connection

Pantone's colour of the year 2019: PANTONE® 16-1546 Living Coral

Think pink (or salmon)! Pantone’s 2019 colour of the year: Living Coral is an exciting explosion of colour with a powerful message that shines a light on some of the global issues that we will be facing in 2019. It is warm, invokes feelings of connection and reminds us of sweaters that Grandma used to knit. It works beautifully from social media to make-up to industrial design and we like it.

Female model walking down catwalk

From the fashion catwalks in Paris to you.

Each year, Pantone announces a colour of the year based on trend-forecasting research from their Colour Institute. The colour chosen is based on "what is taking place in our global culture at a moment in time". According to the brand, Living Coral is already being spotted on catwalks in fashion shows from Paris to Milan, as well as on social media.

How is Pantone’s colour of the year chosen?

Pantone hosts top secret colour meetings twice a year in colourless (... perhaps white bauhaus inspired) rooms so that nothing influences their colour choice. Design operatives from all over the world pitch colours and debate which colours suit the tone of the year. It’s an intensive process and the colours aren’t just picked randomly either.

The process of selecting colours that are shortlisted is a rigorous analysis of everything that is appearing across as many industries as possible globally. Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Colour Institute described the process, “you start to notice certain colors getting more attention in the fashion field. We all travel a lot to London and Paris and Milan, a lot of the major places where you see fashion on the street, and you see evidence of certain colors.” Then “we look at new films coming up. What colors are being used? Is there a new effect being used? We look at upcoming cars, because when you talk about technology, you have to look at the finishes on cars because they are light-years ahead in the technology they use to create those colors,” Eiseman continued.

The team take photos of everything and eventually start finding colour patterns which inform the colours which they bring to these secret meetings. Eventually a colour is chosen which represents the zeitgeist (mood, ideals, beliefs and tone during a period of time) and this is the colour of the year. Once the colour of the year is picked it almost immediately appears to be popular because it was actually already well on the way before. It’s a bit of a chicken and the egg scenario, Pantone picks it because it’s popular and it gets even more popular because Pantone picked it.

Why Living Coral?

Pantone highlights through Living Coral the importance of creating environmental harmony in 2019. Pantone says, "we get energy from nature. Just as coral reefs are a source of sustenance and shelter to sea life, vibrant yet mellow Living Coral embraces us with warmth and nourishment to provide comfort and buoyancy in our continually shifting environment”. They continue on instagram noting that it is: “an animating and life affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energises and enlivens with a softer edge,” vibrancy and positivity is a key message for Pantone. “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,” says Laurie Pressman, Pantone’s Vice President.

A brief history of Pantone’s colour of the year 2000-2019

Pantone have been announcing their colour of the year since 2000. Here they are in all their beautiful glory:

2019: PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral (#FF6F61)

2018: PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet (#5F4B8B)

2017: PANTONE 15-0343 Greenery (#88B04B)

2016: PANTONE 15-3919 Serenity (#95AAD3)

2016 (2): PANTONE 13-1520 Rose Quartz (#F8CDCD)

2015: PANTONE 18-1438 Marsala (#964F4C)

2014: PANTONE 18-3224 Radiant Orchid (#AD5E99)

2013: PANTONE 17-5641 Emerald (#009473)

2012: PANTONE 17-1463 Tangerine Tango (#DD4124)

2011: PANTONE 18-2120 Honeysuckle (#D94F70)

2010: PANTONE 15-5519 Turquoise (#45B5AA)

2009: PANTONE 14-0848 Mimosa (#F0C05A)

2008: PANTONE 18-3943 Blue Iris (#5A5B9F)

2007: PANTONE 19-1557 Chili Pepper (#9B1B30)

2006: PANTONE 13-1106 Sand Dollar (#DECDBE)

2005: PANTONE 15-5217 Blue Turquoise (#53B0AE)

2004: PANTONE 17-1456 Tigerlily (#E2583E)

2003: PANTONE 14-4811 Aqua Sky (#7BC4C4)

2002: PANTONE 19-1664 True Red (#BF1932)

2001: PANTONE 17-2031 Fuchsia Rose (#C74375)

2000: PANTONE 15-4020 Cerulean (#9BB7D4)

Find out more about your favourite Pantone colour

Bold and bright

Living Coral is also a bold statement in the the digital landscape. Eiseman beamed, “colour is an equalising lens through which we experience our natural and digital realities, and this is particularly true for Living Coral.” The vivid colours are a reflection of the vibrancy and ever-changing nature of our digital landscape and the exciting future that 2019 brings, one that Katanya hopes to be embracing.

Various accessories in the Living Coral colour

It works beautifully from social to make-up to industrial design and we like it.

Living Coral’s radiant colours and warmth has sparked a connection with audiences, receiving positive reactions almost immediately. A big contributor to this the way it evokes social engagement, “with consumers craving human interaction and social connection, the humanising and heartening qualities displayed by the convivial Pantone Living Coral hit a responsive chord,” says Eiseman. Living Coral intends on connecting people in the digitalised world that we are living in. “With everything that’s going on today, we’re looking for those humanising qualities because we’re seeing online life dehumanising a lot of things,” says Pressman, so this year is all about creating a meaningful connection.

Living Coral effortlessly blends both our environmental concerns, with issues in our digital landscape and connects the them. Pressmen describes this as an important move for Pantone because it touches on the relevance of our environment in many different regards. It looks at both our connectivity to technology, despite it being described as space that is “not real,” yet is intrinsically linked to our lives and our environment which is physically and tangibly real in our lives, yet often forgotten. Therefore, it becomes increasingly important to find a balance between our digital space and the real environment, so we can move into 2019 in harmony. This nicely sums Katanya’s aims for 2019.

Pantone’s colour institute has been selecting (or predicting) colour of the year since 1999. There are some awesome colours in there. Colours that have reflected or defined fashion, design, products and shaped people’s lens of the world. The colours are often bold but always set (or reflect) trends. Don’t underestimate the importance of Pantone’s colour of the year. Let’s see what this year brings. We think we’ll be seeing lots of Living Coral.


  1. https://strategicfactory.com/about-us/blog/how-does-pantone-choose-its-color-of-the-year.html
  2. https://colormetrix.com/blog/how-color-of-the-year-decided/
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantone#Color_of_the_Year
  4. https://slate.com/culture/2012/04/pantone-color-forecasts-are-they-accurate.html
  5. https://www.glamour.com/story/how-does-pantone-pick-color-of-year
  6. https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article222707900.html
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