Color of the Year 2017

The Color of the Year 2017 buzz begins mid-summer 2016 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 and 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, including 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?

Why now?

When you understand the "why," you will be clear on the reasons each company thinks 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 shade or combination of hues that evoke a similar feeling.

Here are five different colors, all declared as the Color of the Year 2017. Below I have included a snippet of what each company had to say about their choice. Then I've added my thoughts on each color.

Color of the Year 2017 Palette

Pantone Color of the Year 2017 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. Greenery reminds consumers to take a deep breath and reinvigorate with the color of flourishing foliage and the lushness of the great outdoors.

Greenery is nature's neutral. The more submerged people are in modern life, the higher 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. An omnipresent hue in the world, Greenery is now being pulled from the edges to the forefront.

A life-affirming shade, Greenery is also symbolic 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 OK because it is still valid. 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.

See more about Pantone’s trend colors for 2017:

Sherwin Williams Color Of The Year 2017 Poised Taupe

Following last year's choice of an 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 - destress, 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 OK.

See all of Sherwin-William’s trend colors for 2017:

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 its 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.

Dulux complements the Color of the Year with a distinctive color palette featuring a spectrum of blues and tones. Denim Drift combined with the lighter shades of paint in the palette has a crisp and airy feel, whereas the darker colors are 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.

See all of Akzo Nobel’s trend colors for 2019:

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. It is 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's nostalgic, modern, and luxurious. But I think the more significant 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, which is a desire more and more people are connecting with and finding ways to express.

See all of PPG’s trend colors for 2017:

Benjamin Moore Color Of The Year 2017 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 color that calls to mind a 'past,' yet it can also make a contemporary, color-confident statement.

A deep amethyst color with its vibrant hue and lively pigmentation, "'Shadow' creates an emotional connection with color that evokes nostalgic memories of light and space,"

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 told about selecting 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 love it.

Let me add one final thought on Benjamin Moore Color Of The Year. The name adds to the mystery of this color; however, it might not be favorable for most homeowners. Currently, people want life to be transparent, not hidden in the shadows. So while the artistic, romantic side of me loves the hue and the idea of mystery and darkness, my more practical side wonders if the name and the shade are a bit out of touch with the desires of middle America.

See all of Benjamin Moore’s trend colors for 2017:

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.

NOTE: There is an updated report -- Color of the Year 2019

Read Time: 6 min
  • The two planets of creativity, Venus and Neptune, are in the signs of Aquarius and Pisces, respectively. Denim blue is ruled by Saturn (one of the rulers of Aquarius), and the violets are ruled by Pisces. To me, Shadow accurately reflects the mystery of the Piscean sea and its twelfth house in astrology, the house of all that is hidden! With the current planetary influences, which have been going on for a bit, I can see why these hues were chosen!

  • Dana says:

    Best article out there about Pantones selection, and all the colors of the year!

    Love Greenery, and all the colors, except for Poised Taupe.

  • Monica Suannes Pucci says:

    Dear Kate
    You’re the best! I’m color-holic and I use your tips at work and also at home. I confess I check also other blogs, but this analysis was just the best I’ve ever seen…. Thanks a lot and congratulations!
    May 2017 bring you even more success and joy!

  • Kaye Gosline says:

    Kate, you do a fabulous job of adding perspective to the sometimes confusing but always interesting battle for the color of the year. We know that there is no ONE color (or even two, Pantone last year), but the really interesting part is as you said the why and why now questions. When I look at the 5 IT colors this year, it really strikes me how it symbolizes the US culture today. The gray of doubt hangs over the palette begging for comfort and familiarity, seeking solace in the past. And then there is the hopeful optimism of green like shoots of new growth peeking through. If you look at the colors as a palette, they actually could work to create harmony and balance, something much needed in 2017. It’s always a pleasure to hear what all these talented colorists have to say about color trends. Thanks for pulling it together in your own unique style!

  • Sally says:

    I love greenery but the others are so dull! I am so tired of this muted trend, especially as far as the outside of houses go. I wish the West could look to India for inspiration. They are known to be a happy people, and how could you not be surrounded by wonderful , vibrant hues. I live for the day when bright colours are trendy or even pastel shades. They can be so uplifting and surely that’s what we all need these days!

    • kate smith says:

      India is filled with so many beautiful, vibrant hues that you can’t help but feel inspired and uplifted. I think just about everyone can benefit right now from seeing bright, bold colors in more places. Thanks for your comment, Sally.

  • Juli says:

    A few weeks ago at the movies, we were sitting through the usual succession of trailers… and one after the other, they were gloomy, almost apocalyptic scenarios. I looked over at the lady sitting next to me and said sarcastically, “well, those look uplifting!” So it would seem we are entering a somewhat pessimistic trend, and I’d say that is perhaps driving these (mostly) muted colors. Oddly, this must have been coming on for some time, since movies are usually produced a year or more in advance…and thus are not an immediate reflection of world events. You’ve mentioned in your seminars that for every trend, there is a smaller countertrend. In this case, will we see bold dashes of color or exotic color combinations in some decor, as a reaction? That’s certainly been my reaction to all this grayness – I’ve just bought coats in red, electric blue, hot pink, and purple!

    • kate smith says:

      Great observation, Juli. Dark, edgy, atmospheric and pessimistic describes the tone of many recent movies reflecting cultural views. Movies can start a trend but often they help push a trend forward or act as a tipping point for a trend to catch on. That may be the case here, too.

      As for you desire to surround yourself with brighter hues, you have naturally found the antidote to all of the uncertainty and negativity of the past year. History shows that when we lose hope or feel especially uncertain about the future that we turn to bright colors lift our spirits. It is only too bad that if the situation continues this remedy eventually becomes less effective and we seek out other colors to help us feel better.

  • Kate: Thanks for putting this all in one place for analysis.

    What is clearly evident to me is: “what’s missing?” Yellows, oranges, browns – “warm” colors are completely gone. Except for Greenery, Grey’s influence is clearly surging.

    • kate smith says:

      You’re welcome, Robert. Your insight is right on target. For those wondering if we will we be seeing any warm colors in trendy designs next year the answer it, “Yes.” Anytime there is a strong trend color its complementary color tags along. You won’t see as much of it but it will be there. This is how the warmer side of the color wheel will show up in many of the designs using these colors.

  • Lori says:

    Dare I say one could spin a romantic tale about nearly any color and make it seem relevant. As far as selling color for interiors, my vote is Shadow (at least among trendy folks). It would look equally beautiful with antiques as modern furnishings. Poised Taupe? Not so much. Even though it’s a neutral in reality it has too much red in it, making it lean pinky or purple.
    Great post Kate!

    • kate smith says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Lori.

      As for spinning a romatic story, I agree since I’ve spun many a color tale over the years myself.

      And you’re right. Shadow will appeal to more sophisticated and forward thinking color lovers…like us

    • Ginny says:

      I love Shadow and Greenery! Exciting things could be done with both of them.

  • franki says:

    LUV Greenery and Shadow!!! I could “work with” both of them!! franki

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