Purple Reign, Purple Reign

Every December, the Pantone Color Institute announces its new ‘Color of the Year’ with press releases and a post on their website. A frenzy of colour-obsessed commentary ensues. Bloggers rattle the keys. E-commerce sites like Etsy light up with handmade products in the latest shade. And social media channels ignite in colourful commentary.

Once the purveyor of the world’s most important colour-matching system predicts a particular shade’s popularity, a colour-of-the-year bonanza inevitably follows. Demand for this colour is essentially a sure thing for the coming year. It becomes pre-eminently important.

This year’s Colour of the Year is Ultra Violet – or ‘Pantone 18-3838’, as you’d almost certainly never call it in friendly conversation. In the Pantone Color Institute’s official release, executive director Leatrice Eisemen proclaims a ‘blue-based purple’ that elevates our awareness and potential.

Her gaze then turns to the stars:

From exploring new technologies and the greater galaxy, to artistic expression and spiritual reflection, intuitive Ultra Violet lights the way to what is yet to come.

Those are lofty, almost apocryphal words for what appears to be a fairly common shade of purple. Does it stem from prophetic vision – modern divination for the image-focused – or is it all smoke and mirrors?

The answer certainly varies depending on who you ask, but you’ll find plenty of worthwhile insight in a recent article by Bruce Falconer published in the New York Times. It takes a deep dive into the art of colour forecasting and the amount of time, research and cold, hard cash Pantone directs to that end.

It’s an in-depth article – long and well worth the read – that takes readers on a sweeping journey from the first ‘fashion craze for a synthetic colour’ (mauve) through the ‘the colour industry’s iMac-inaugurated big bang’ before launching into the present day.

Have a look here and let us know what you think of this year’s reigning colour.