RIP Ultra Violet. No other Color of the Year will ever resonate the same way for me personally because purple. However, I love color and regardless of whether Pantone’s COTY is just a clever marketing ploy to get us to buy more things or the great unveiling of the hive mind which makes us gravitate towards a single hue, I look forward to Pantone’s big reveal every year. But I don’t like writing about it. This is clear to me now. Pantone says that “Living Coral” is “life-affirming” and “optimistic” and “animating” and fills a deep need for “intimacy” due to the “onslaught of technology”. What a load of bollocks. I love pattern and fabrics and stationery supplies but I can’t handle any of that described like fine wine. I can’t even handle wine described like fine wine.
The public reaction to the announcement in December was unexpected. I mean, Living Coral? It’s like a peach and an orange and a salmon had a fling. Somehow the combination of the name “Living Coral” (instead of Bleached Coral?) with the accompanying marketing copy and growing suspicions that this was all thinly veiled consumerism (hint: most everything is) and meant to move product (see above) resulted in the fact that Pantone spent some time fending off criticisms about climate change. (Meh. We really only have ourselves to blame for that.)
So this Coral Color That Shall Not Be Named is the next big thing. It’s the color of sunsets and flamingoes and seashells and I like all those things just fine. So pretty! It’s also, oddly, the color of my very first apartment, which had been sponge-painted (remember that trend?) in shades of red, pink and white, the colors melting together into a vivid salmon pink. It was like living in a womb, eliciting wildly diverging reactions, from “It’s fantastic” and “super fun” to “It makes me want to kill something”. Given how subjective color is, why are our reactions sometimes so… visceral?
Turns out that color perception is very personal, hardwired to memories, emotions and experiences. While nearly all mammals are able to discern around 10,000 hues, humans are trichromats, which ups our color processing ability to 1,000,000. Some women may have color interpreting superpowers due to a fourth eye cone (which may mean that the “white isn’t just white debate” has merit.) So maybe my reaction to this color has less to do with purple and more to do with the overwhelming color of my first apartment. Sorry Living Coral: you’re nice and all, but my year of you was decades ago.