The Pantone Color Of The Year

The Pantone Color Of The Year

Pantone Book | Blueprint

Color has always been an integral part of how a culture expresses the attitudes and emotions unique to its times. From the psychedelic colors that represented the 1960’s, to the earthy tones that robed the kings of disco in the 1970’s.

What colors will define our generation? Now Pantone has the answer.

Pantone Color Matching System

Pantone began as a color print media printer, hiring a chemist named Lawrence Herbet who helped develop the Pantone Color Matching System. This standardized color reproduction using a gradient of swatches that can be matched regardless of the printing machine used. By standardizing the colors, different manufacturers in different locations can all refer to the Pantone system to make sure colors match without direct contact with one another.

So, what Pantone does is create color matching systems. But what they’re known for among the wider public is the Color of Year.

Secret Meeting

Twice a year the company hosts a secret meeting over two days in a European capital, with representatives from around the world, to determine a particular Color of the Year. They debate the advantages of different contenders and eventually pick their winner.

The results from this meeting will guide fashion designers, florists, and many other consumer driven companies to plan for future products. Here you can see how color influences all the major brands.

Color and Logos | Blueprint

Below are the last 14 Pantone colors chosen at those meetings.

Pantone Colors of the Year | Blueprint

The 2015 Color of the Year

Don’t call it brown.Marsala Wine | Color Gradiants For Websites and Design Projects | Blueprint

Pantone has named Marsala the 2015 color of the year.

It’s more like an earthy wine. Marsala is actually a port in Sicily, and has given its name to the wine produced there; now it’s popularly fortified with extra alcohol.

How did this decision happen? A group of professionals in different fields – ranging from psychology to fashion design, look at world trends in color.

Because they’re always thinking about what colors they see, they have a sense about what colors are resonating with people across the world – from New York, Paris and Milan to Dubai. Their sources aren’t simply fashion shows. The pigment of an acclaimed gallery exhibit, or the shirt color of a television anchor can help influence their understanding of the colors people care about.

These experts have now predicted a shift towards using less intense colors, mirroring the desire of a hugely connected humanity to pull the plug, take it easy and vacate from a bold and frenetic life.

Leatrice Eiseman, the Executive Director of Pantone Color Institute, described the committee’s decision for choosing Marsala:

“This season there is a move toward the cooler and softer side of the color spectrum. An eclectic, ethereal mix of understated brights, pale pastels and nature-like neutrals take center stage as designers draw from daydreams of simpler times. Remembrances of retro delights, folkloric and floral art, and the magical worlds of tropical landscapes restore a sense of well-being as we head into warmer months.”

2015 Fashion Color Palate

Below is the 2015 fashion color palate called: En Plein Air. This French expression translates as “in the open air,” and refers to painting outside.  It’s a fine theme to tie together the muted, environmental tones of the more neutral color palate, and the desire to break away from the workaday pack.

En Plein Air | Blueprint

Spring 2014 Color

First Lady Radiant Orchid | Colors Schemes In Webdesign | Blueprint

The spring 2014 Pantone color of the year was radiant orchid. The committee felt that consumers should take heart in a spring-like hue to thrive in the winter months. Radiant Orchid is a versatile shade that can be worn by both men and women. Numerous celebrities embrace this color palate and incorporated this hue into their wardrobes, including the First Lady.

Color and Us

Yes, it’s cheeky to declare the world’s color.

But we must admit that these Pantone color pundits are some of the few people thinking about what colors we use, and what those colors say about our lives.

Last year, we were radiant orchids.

This year, we’re wine with added alcohol.

By: Aaron Ward
  • Alfredo J. Rodriguez

    First and foremost, I’m glad we’re finally to an earthier tone after years of nigh-neon color choices.

    I am very interested in seeing how this color and the year’s associated palette play out in design choices for businesses both large and small.

    Thanks for the informative post, Aaron!

  • Rebekah Faucette

    Love this, Aaron!

    The Pantone color wheel has become so prevalent that a well-known tumblr blogger and designer named Inka Matthew has dedicated her time to finding “real life” matches to the color swatches. You can check out her blog at

  • Chuniq Inpower

    Once again, another awesome post! Marsala is an awesome shade of brown that is going to be a great backdrop or compliment to the “fashion color palate”.

    I’m typically not into trends for my personal stylings, but for content marketing, design and branding, knowing which colors are relevant can help companies create more captivating images and be “on-trend” with visual content development. I’ll definitely be looking into this color declaration each year to note its popularity and receptiveness by the masses.

  • John

    Really interesting and informative article. The last paragraph really summed up the tone! The idea of a world color does seem a little on the pretentious side, but you made a great point about the psychology behind it. Well done, sir!

  • Samantha Torres

    I’m excited about this year’s color! It’ll be fun to see how it plays out in fashion, advertising and especially online media.

  • Jason Corrigan

    Great article Aaron – my question is – are their psychological effects particular color schemes have on consumers browsing sites? If so, are there particular colors that influence conversions more than others?

    • Adam Baxter

      I once read about how the color red is believed to be more appealing to people when they’re hungry. As such, many restaurants often use the color red to decorate their building exteriors. Not sure how legitimate that one is, but I too wonder if their is any particular color(s) that just generally make people more willing spend money.

  • Naima

    Marsala is a great color to begin the year 2015 with. I can’t wait to see how web designers will incorporate it in their designs to add an elegant touch in both personal and business websites. Great article Aaron!

  • Adam Baxter

    Color theory is such an interesting subject. Its pretty cool to see how different color palettes elicit different emotions in the same way different instruments and melodies do in music.

  • Caroline Ripa

    Love this! A lot of people do not realize that color plays huge role in everything we do! As someone who loves minimalism and neutral colors, I am very excited to see this color palette play out in fashion and graphic design next year!

  • Joshua Bains

    This is a great conversation starter – I was at a fancy dinner party at an artists residence and dropped this Color of the Year business, and the dialogue that followed was riveting. She took me into her studio and defied me to choose from her samples the real Marsala.