Every year since 2000, Pantone has been the de facto 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.

pantone color of the year

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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. While the jury is still out on the true impact of color in environmental psychology, it’s fun to learn about how and why Pantone chooses the color they do each year.

It’s become a much-anticipated forecast each December that impacts trends in home decor, fashion, beauty, and more.

Love reading design trend recaps and predictions? Check out the Modsy 2021 style trend report!

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As they gear up to announce their 2021 color, we’re taking a look back at the Pantone colors of the previous decade—many of which were inspired by the natural world, a prominent theme across home decor during the 2010s.

Keep reading for a fun and colorful ride down the Pantone memory lane!

pantone colors of the year

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Pantone 2010 Color of the Year: Turquoise

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.

Pantone color of the year

Pantone 2011 Color of the Year: Honeysuckle

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 “every day.” 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.

Pantone 2012 Color of the Year: 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. It makes us want to try out a red color scheme!

Pantone color of the year

Pantone 2013 Color of the Year: Emerald

The Color DNA: A tamer take of the tried-and-true jewel tone.

The Backstory: Things got a bit more mellow this year, so for the 2013 color it was back to classics. The experts settled on emerald, which was meant to “enhance our sense of well-being, balance, and harmony.” This 2013 emerald Pantone color 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. (You can’t get much more luxuriously classic than jewel tone decor).

Feeling inspired by the Pantone Color of the Year 2013 and want to learn more about how to decorate your home with shades of green? Check out our guide on the best color schemes for green, or explore the bold colored rooms trend.

Pantone 2014 Color of the Year: Radiant Orchid

The Color DNA: The best of purple, fuchsia, and pink combined in one stunning color.

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.

Pantone 2015 Color of the Year: Marsala

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 with the popular earth tones trend.

What We Love About It: The soulfulness. The deep-rooted comfort. The bold coziness.

Pantone 2016 Colors of the Year: 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: Rose Quartz AND Serenity? That’s right. 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.

We’re big believers that color is genderless. So, the gender blur of these two colors, and a subtle push toward gender equality in the design world, made us a big fan of the combined Pantone Color of the Year 2016. With that in mind—want to see some of our favorite ways to incorporate pink and blue into everyday designs? Check out our designers’ favorite pink bedroom designs, some foolproof color schemes for blue rooms, and our favorite gender neutral nursery color schemes.

Pantone color of the yearPantone 2017 Color of the Year: Greenery

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.

Pantone 2018 Color of the Year: 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.

Pantone 2019 Color of the Year: 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.

Pantone classic blue color chipPantone 2020 Color of the Year: Classic Blue

The Color DNA: Not quite navy, this is a dark, deep blue that has an almost earthy undertone, reminding us of the sky at dusk.

The Backstory: Pantone chose Classic Blue in response to the growing frenzy and anxiety in the world due to technology. Of course, as this year proved, that frenzy and anxiety went far beyond technology.

No one knew what the year 2020 would hold—but the folks at Pantone were definitely onto something when they chose the 2020 Pantone Color of the Year. With all of the uncertainty this year has held, this nonaggressive and relatable shade of blue—described as a dependable color meant to provide refuge—was just what we needed. (Fun fact: the Sherwin Williams 2020 Color of the Year, Naval, hit similar notes and ideas).

What We Love About It: The return to traditional comforts. Its timeless nature. Its endless versatility. (There’s a reason why blue is one of our most popular living room color schemes).

And For 2021…

We’re not sure what 2021 will hold—for Pantone’s Color of the Year, or for the world at large. But, we’re predicting Pantone will go for something calming and comforting to soothe our frenzied souls, and a color that feels like a warm and cozy embrace!


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Not sure what hues to use in your home? Check out our complete guide on how to choose a color palette. Or, get help from the experts!

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