The Color of the Year buzz begins mid-summer and builds until early December when it reaches a color frenzy in the media and social-sphere.
One by one companies reveal their Color of the Year to the press as well as post and boast about it on their websites. PPG and AkzoNobel are usually first followed by Sherwin-Williams, Benjamin Moore and finally Pantone.
Each company shares details about how they chose their color, which includes research, observation, travel, trade shows and much debate. It’s a process I’m intimately familiar with having been part of trend forecasting teams for several different corporations in the past.
Having an insider’s view means that I look at these colors a bit differently. Most people see the color and give it a thumbs up or thumbs down. Some start to find color combinations that will work with the hue and others hunt for products in the latest color. Not me. Before I begin thinking about the design possibilities I want to know the reasons behind their choice.
Why so much interest in the reasons? Because the two most important questions a designer can ask about any trend color are:
Why this color?
When you understand the “why” you will be clear on the reasons each company thinks that their hue will resonate with a majority of people during the upcoming year. This insight will enable you to use not just their color of the year but any hue or combination of hues that evoke a similar feeling.
Here are five different colors all declared as the Color of the Year. Below I have included a snippet of what each company had to say about their choice followed by my thoughts on each.
Pantone 2017 Color of the Year is Greenery
Pantone announced Greenery 15-0343 as their pick for 2017. What did they say about their choice?
A refreshing and revitalizing shade, Greenery is symbolic of new beginnings.
Greenery is a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore and renew. Illustrative of flourishing foliage and the lushness of the great outdoors, the fortifying attributes of Greenery signals consumers to take a deep breath, oxygenate and reinvigorate.
Greenery is nature’s neutral. The more submerged people are in modern life, the greater their innate craving to immerse themselves in the physical beauty and inherent unity of the natural world. This shift is reflected by the proliferation of all things expressive of Greenery in daily lives through urban planning, architecture, lifestyle and design choices globally. A constant on the periphery, Greenery is now being pulled to the forefront – it is an omnipresent hue around the world.
A life-affirming shade, Greenery is also emblematic of the pursuit of personal passions and vitality.
What do I think? Greenery is a tangy hue that is bold, edgy and signals the start of something new. Yellow-green has been punctuating my design work since 2001 so this color gets two brushes up!
The reasons behind the color are a rehash of what Pantone has been saying for years but that’s okay because it still holds true. What drives a trend doesn’t always change drastically. What changes are the more subtle (and this year not so subtle) influences that shift the colors that will satisfy our desire for balance.
Sherwin Williams 2017 Color Of The Year Poised Taupe
Following last year’s choice of a off-white, Alabaster, Sherwin Williams puts forth a warm neutral as their top color for the upcoming year.
“Sherwin-Williams doesn’t usually like to play color favorites, but in this case we can’t resist. The color we anticipate defining 2017 is Poised Taupe SW 6039 creates a cozy lifestyle and brings a sense of sanctuary into our homes. It diffuses the stresses of the world outside our doors — so much so that we feel restored and in balance when we walk across our threshold.
Our story of taupe is simple. Earthen brown combines with conservative grey and the result is a weathered, woodsy and complex neutral that celebrates the imperfections and authenticity of a well-lived life.”
You might think these first two colors are quite different. I see them as quite alike. To me if Greenery is one side of the coin, Poised Taupe is the other.
Rather than the “re” words – refresh, renew, rejuvenate — being tossed around for Pantone’s choice the way to think about Poised Taupe is with “d” words – de-stress, define, decompress. Same life. Same challenges. Just a different way of dealing with them. Rather than reminding you to take a breath and reconnect with nature this earthy neutral gives you a gentle hug and tells you everything will be okay.
AkzoNobel 2017 Color of the Year Denim Drift
The European choice for 2017 is a color that is quintessentially American.
We understand how essential color is to everyday life,” explained Heleen van Gent, Head of AkzoNobel’s Global Aesthetics Center, which works with the company’s decorative paint brands, including Dulux. “As well as being practical, paint and color can have such a transforming and uplifting effect on people and the places they spend their time, whether at home, work or leisure.
To complement the Color of the Year, a special color palette featuring a spectrum of blues and tones has also been developed. Denim Drift combined with the lighter shades of paint in the palette has a crisp and airy feel, whereas with the darker colors it’s more dramatic and moody.
Denim is a classic and versatile fabric that is both comfortable and stylish. In clothing it is a material that doesn’t discriminate — it works for pretty much everyone. The same is true for this shade of blue — it has universal appeal and feels like a safe harbor in times of uncertainty.
PPG Voice of Color 2017 Color Of The Year Violet Verbena
Gray updated with a generous dollop of violet is how I would describe PPG’s choice.
“Violet Verbena is at once as nostalgic as it is modern. It’s substantial in a world that can sometimes seem so temporary, luxurious in a harsh world that needs pampering, and introspective and private in an invasive world,”
Violet Verbena adapts to surrounding environments and complements a variety of design aesthetics, from playful rooms to tranquil spaces.
Violet Verbena is a moody purple with a chameleon-like presence.
Statistically few people choose to paint with shades of purple yet they keep finding their way into the trends palette. You can say it is because it is because it’s nostalgic, modern and luxurious. But I think the bigger reason is that people are intrigued by purple even if they don’t commit to putting it on their walls.
I see it as a color that is a blend of the masculine and feminine, the merging of opposing political parties and the place where our overtaxed mind meets our bohemian dreams. It is a color that speaks to those who yearn to be part of a new more creative and kind culture. This is a desire more and more people are connecting with and finding ways to express.
Benjamin Moore 2017 Color Of The Year Shadow
As different as night and day might be how you describe Benjamin Moore’s 2016 and 2017 Color of the Year. Last year’s Simply White is followed this year by Shadow a deep amethyst.
Allusive and enigmatic, Shadow is a master of ambiance. It is a colour that calls to mind a ‘past’, yet it can also make a contemporary, colour-confident statement.
A deep amethyst color with its rich hue and lively pigmentation, “‘Shadow’ creates an emotional connection with color that evokes nostalgic memories of light and space,”
Another grayed purple but a much deeper and more dramatic hue. The depth of this color may make it more popular as an accent or in soft furnishings even for those that that love the color.
As if to add credence to what I was saying about this hue calling out to those who feel the creative desire I’ll share something Ellen O’Neill said about how they came to select Shadow.
“OK, look at this wall [filled with hundreds of images] “divided into color families. I said, “Just go to the place that talks to you.” And everybody [all creative folks] went over to that sort of aubergine family.
There is just something about this color family that resonates however the depth of color may make it more popular as an accent color or in soft furnishings even for those that that love it.
One final thought on this color. The name adds to the mystery of this color but for most homeowners that might not be seen as a positive. Currently, people want life to be revealed not hidden in the shadows. So while the artistic, romantic side of me loves the hue and the idea of mystery and shadow my more practical side wonders if the the name and the hue are a bit out of touch with the desires of middle America.
Now that you have my take on these five companies Color of the Year I’d love to know your point of view. Leave a comment below letting me know what you think.