Following 2018’s regal and dramatic Ultra Violet, Pantone’s Colour of the Year 2019 is Living Coral, an “animating and life-affirming shade of orange with a golden undertone”.
A decidedly more natural colour than last year’s choice, you’d be correct in guessing that the all-pervasive and pressing environmental conversation that’s taken place over the past year has played a big part in the Pantone Colour Institute’s decision.
“We get energy from nature,” a statement from Pantone reads. “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.”
While the colour is a poignant reminder of the damage inflicted by global warming on the Great Barrier Reef – earlier this year, scientists reported that 30% of the reef’s coral was bleached and died during a “catastrophic” nine-month marine heatwave in 2016 – Living Coral is a spirited, energizing shade, Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Colour Institute tells Refinery29.
“Even though there is a seriousness – the nurturing aspect of preserving our ocean coral reefs – at the same time there is that element of playfulness that is attached to the colour,” she explains. “Coral is a colour of beauty and a colour that humans are so attracted to. Think, most importantly, of the sunset. It conjures up a picture of some beautiful tropical place, some place you would love to be on a vacation.”
So what is it about Living Coral that’s captured our cultural imagination of late? I ask Leatrice whether she believes that the uneasy climate – political, socioeconomic, environmental – has shaped the need for a colour that is overwhelmingly positive. “Absolutely, I couldn’t have put it better,” she says. “It expresses warmth, that kind of harmony, human interaction and social connection that we’re looking for. I think that’s something so inherent in the human mind. It pulls you in, gathers you in, in such a warm and inviting way that it opens up an avenue to positive thoughts, not negative. That, we felt, was a really vital part of expressing the Colour of the Year with Living Coral.”
Lord knows we could all do with a heavy dose of optimism right now, so here’s to being surrounded by Living Coral in 2019, in our homes, our wardrobes, and on our Insta feeds.