Design, Color, Trends  /  1.27.14  / 2-min read

Purple Haze: Pantone’s Color of the Year

Last month, Pantone revealed its Color of the Year for 2014: a bold, fuchsia-like jewel tone called Radiant Orchid (PANTONE 18-3224). Now that the purple dust has settled, I want to take a moment to reflect on this heavily promoted yearly tradition.

Since 2000, the Pantone Color Institute (PCI) has been giving one color the designation of Color of the Year. The PCI team “combs the world for future design and color influences” until it finds one shade that can best “express in color what is taking place in the global zeitgeist.” The color is supposed to be a reflection of the mindset of both designers and consumers in the coming year. While 2013’s Color of the Year, Emerald (PANTONE 17-5641), “served as a symbol of growth, renewal and prosperity,” Radiant Orchid “encourages expanded creativity and originality, which is increasingly valued in today’s society,” according to Pantone’s press release.


While I can certainly get behind the idea of expanded creativity and originality, I do wonder about this whole Color of the Year hullabaloo. Shortly after the announcement was made, articles and Pinterest boards popped up all over the place touting the best ways to wear Radiant Orchid, how to use it in your home, and the hottest products to buy in that color. When you get down to it, there’s really little emphasis on anything besides the commercial aspect. Purple is cool now, so buy our new special-edition Radiant Orchid Keurig machine.


As a graphic designer, should I also be jumping on the fuchsia bandwagon to keep up with the new “it” color?


I remember when I was five years old; all of the other little girls in my preschool class were all about pink. Wanting to be a little different (but not completely lose my girly identity), I declared that my favorite color was PURPLE. I have long since moved on to love affairs with other colors – a blue obsession in my teenage years, a penchant for green in college.


As a designer I feel like I’ve developed a shorter attention span when it comes to favorite colors.


I seem to have a new favorite hue every week (though I must admit I am still partial to my old standbys). Most recently I’ve been sort of into brown, of all things… The point is, I think it’s a little unrealistic to say that there is going to be one major color trend for the whole year, just like I don’t recall seeing a particular abundance of Emerald Green last year. In an infographic showing predictions by creative experts for what might be the Color of the Year for 2014, answers were all over the map. Only one person even guessed purple.


Before it appears as if I’m raining (purple rain) all over this parade, I do have to say that I actually LOVE that there’s a Color of the Year. I love that we take the time as a culture to celebrate color, and that ‘the color purple’ is a newsworthy item in itself. I also still love purple, after all these years.


At the very least, Pantone’s big yearly announcement makes me pause and consider if I’ve used the color much in my designs before. I’m thinking Radiant Orchid would look pretty great as a punchy accent color on various web interface elements, or it could be used more dramatically as a filter on a series of photos. This particular shade “encourages expanded creativity and originality,” you say? Right on.


P.S. Can we please discuss the fact that there is a PANTONE hotel? 

Kelsey Ó Ciardha

Art Director

Kelsey is an art director at Calypso. If you need a new website or branding strategy, you’ll likely work with her. She's an expert in print and digital design, photography, and jazz squares.

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