Every year since 2000, Pantone has been the defacto color authority of the design world. Their Color of the Year sets the tone (and trends) for the next 12 months ahead. But it wasn’t until the 2010s that Pantone’s Color of the Year started making waves and influencing trends.
Often linked to the cultural zeitgeist of the times, Pantone’s color experts comb the world for inspiration, looking everywhere from the entertainment industry to travel trends to even socio-economic conditions to determine the hue for the following year. Now, it’s a much-anticipated forecast each December that impacts trends in home decor, fashion, beauty, and more.
As they gear up to announce their 2020 color (also their 20th anniversary), we’re taking a look back at some of our favorite Pantone colors over the past ten years—many of which were inspired by the natural world, a prominent theme across home decor during this decade.
Celebrate the wrap of the 2010s with us on a fun and colorful ride down the Pantone memory lane as we prepare to embrace the color that will kick off a new decade.
The Color DNA: A blend of the serene qualities of blue with the invigorating nature of green.
The Backstory: This uplifting hue was a much-needed dose of calm at the time. The world was still recovering from the financial crisis of 2008 and Pantone’s experts explained that they wanted to energize people and give them a feeling of relaxation and escape through this hue.
What We Love About It: The tropical flavor. The sense of escape. That feeling of being on vacation.
The Color DNA: Not quite fuchsia but a red-hued shade of pink.
The Backstory: Honeysuckle was also touted as a color for every day that’s anything but “everyday.” It was courageous, confident, and charismatic.
Bright and bold were the driving philosophies behind this hue, which came at a time when the experts felt the world needed a brave new color for a brave new world. (For context, Instagram was barely a year old!)
What We Love About It: It reminds us of summer. It’s a happy mood-booster and is joyfully optimistic.
2012: Tangerine Tango
The Color DNA: An energetic orange-red that shakes things up.
The Backstory: The experts at Pantone sensed a universal lull in 2012 and thought that the world needed waking up. They devised this bright, vibrant shade to be the alarm clock for us to collectively rise and shine.
What We Love About It: The positively charged sunrise and sunset vibes.
The Color DNA: A tamer take of the tried-and-true jewel tone.
The Backstory: Things got a bit more mellow in 2013, and it was a back to classics kind of year. The experts settled on emerald, which was meant to “enhance our sense of well-being, balance, and harmony.” This was an emerald that wasn’t overly aggressive or loud, but just as lush, luminous, and luxurious.
What We Love About It: The timeless elegance. The casual sophistication. The classic feels.
2014: Radiant Orchid
The Color DNA: The best of purple, fuchsia, and pink.
The Backstory: This was a year for big ideas all over, and Pantone’s experts chose this hue for its inspiring, creative energy. They believed that the color would spark confidence and radiate joy, love, and health.
What We Love About It: It’s perfectly chic, beautifully nuanced, and boldly invigorating.
The Color DNA: A rich, earthy shade of wine red that feels full-bodied and grounded.
The Backstory: The earthiest hue we saw this decade, Pantone experts chose Marsala in 2015 as they say it’s a color that “enriches our minds, bodies, and souls.”
They also called attention to its versatility in home decor. Looking back, we have to agree that it was a color that perfectly warmed the home, and we’re actually seeing a renewed interest in these rich, earthy hues as a trend for 2020 and beyond.
What We Love About It: The soulfulness. The deep-rooted comfort. The bold coziness.
2016: Rose Quartz & Serenity
The Color DNA: Rose Quartz is a warm, cheery shade that feels close to the much-crazed millennial pink. Serenity is a soft, almost lavender-tinted shade of light blue.
The Backstory: For the first time, Pantone selected two shades to be the colors of the year in 2016. Rose Quartz and Serenity provided a softer, subtler contrast to the bolder colors that had come before.
Rose Quartz was said to convey a sense of compassion and composure while Serenity brought to mind weightlessness and airiness that were reminiscent of the sky. Together the colors were meant to speak to a larger cultural craving for comfort and the increased blurring of gender lines.
What We Love About It: Rose Quartz’s gentle beauty. Serenity’s inspiring ease. Their blended reimagining of blue and pink.
The Color DNA: A fresh, leafy, matcha-hyped green.
The Backstory: After a slight hiatus, it was back to Mother Nature in 2017. Greenery was meant to be refreshing and revitalizing and all about new beginnings. It was a clear desire to reconnect with nature and potentially a reaction to our ever-more technologically-dependent world.
What We Love About It: It signals spring. It feels deliciously fresh. It soothes our restlessness.
2018: Ultra Violet
The Color DNA: A dramatic, deeply provocative, and electric shade of purple.
The Backstory: Word around the Modsy office was “Prince Purple” when the color was announced. And fittingly so as the experts pointed out that the color was meant to be all about “originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us towards the future.”
What We Love About It: The cosmic connotation. The regal reference. The Prince association.
2019: Living Coral
The Color DNA: A peachy and electric pink.
The Backstory: For the past year, Living Coral has been the prominent color with clear ties to the beauty of our natural world. It hints at the warming reality that is the fragility of our oceans, where coral reefs are dying.
Pantone described the color as animating and life-affirming, and it’s perhaps a wake-up call, once again, for all of us to do better and turn our sights away from our technology-driven lives and toward the world around us.
What We Love About It: The passionate reference to our oceans. The jubilance of the color. The call to action it inspires in us.
And For 2020…
We’ll have to wait and see what’s in store for next year’s big color trend. But our guess is a shade that’s inspired by the natural world and our collective desire for well-being and more self-care.