Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Pantone's Color Blindness

2014 Pantone Color of the Year, Radiant Orchid, not so radiant next to a real orchid
The year 2015 will be the 16th year for which Pantone has presented a Color of the Year, and just like the previous 15 colors. They didn't nail it. Just the opposite...they were way off. The 2015 color is Marsala, but instead of selecting the golden or amber color most people would recognize as Marsala, they picked an obscure variety called Rubino, or ruby Marsala.


The solid color swatch looks like a shade of brick red. It does not in any way conjure images of Marsala wine, but it could be a lipstick color. Speaking of that, Pepper Cory wrote a great blog post on this topic and talked about how the Pantone colors might appeal to cosmetics bloggers. To read Pepper's blog, click here.



Cerulean, the very first Color of the Year in 2000, kicked off the legacy of ineptly named colors. Just take a look at the cerulean pigment (above) next to the swatch. It's more like a dull sky blue, what folks in the antique and vintage textiles might call Cadet Blue. It was a popular color during the Colonial Revival of the early 20th century, but bears little semblance to Cerulean, a "straight-out-of-the-tube" paint color. The 2014 Pantone Color of the Year was called Radiant Orchid (pictured at top). If you look at this color next to a real orchid, Radiant Orchid doesn't seem so radiant.


There have been several discussions about Pantone's Colors of the Year online, but I'm not sure if anyone has really come out and called it what it is. The head-scratching disconnect between the colors and their names is, in my opinion, color blindness. I guess that's why Marsala, Pantone's 2015 Color of the Year, will always remind me of the lipstick on the rim of the glass rather than the wine.

So, what do you think of Pantone's Colors of the Year?

12 comments:

  1. At least most of them are cheerful brights (though there's a greyed undertone to many of them, including the Marsala). After suffering through the horrors of the 60s with the "earth tones" of muddy browns, puke golds, and sickly greens, it's a relief to have colors that brighten up our world instead of dulling it. The Color Council has done its work well.

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    1. They wouldn't make bad paint colors, but I'm skeptical about these colors for fabrics.

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  2. Lipstick on the rim of the glass - that conjured the perfect image of your argument.

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  3. Ruby Marsala is generally very close to the color Pantone has picked. You had me doubting my eyes so I had to look it up in some wine site, but it exists and is beautiful.

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    1. I've seen green bubble gum, too - but if I say "bubble gum" in a conversation about color, would you really think of green?

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  4. Thanks for another reason to ignore the color of the year. :-)

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  5. I love those grey pinks. I'm collecting them for a quilt! Old red sandstone, wood-pigeon breast. Have to say one of my favourite colour groups.

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  6. They should have stayed in the printing industry ... those clours would make a wonderfully matching row of linen bound hard backs, not too glaring and distracting yet still a colour of some sort

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  7. I don't even want to SEE those colors in my house!!!

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