Colour me pink

Each January since the dawn of the 21st century (I’ve always wanted to write that – it sounds better than since the year 2000) there has been a proclamation made by the high council of all things colour – the ‘PANTONE® Color of the Year’  whereby a mysterious coven of colour alchemists (I’m sticking with the British spelling of colour from now on) who have scoured the globe for new and exciting tones, shades and hues, and spent months deliberating, cogitating and very likely bitching about each and every one of them.

After a lengthy and protracted battle of wits, and I dare say a fair amount charm, cunning, logic and subterfuge is deployed by each of the secretive fraternity of colour, just one is chosen. One.

One single, special colour. The colour of the year! The whole year. One special colour for 365 days. Or more for the leap years. Imagine that.

For 2019 that colour is PANTONE® 16-1546 Living Coral. Oh yes. Feast your eyes on this:

Living Coral. I guess just coral wasn’t enough. Or maybe this is a political comment on global warming? Perhaps this is a subliminal prompt to remind us of the alarming rate of coral reef depletion? With experts predicting between 60-90% destruction in the next 20 years this would be a worthy cause.

But no. The only reference to actual coral comes in a couple of short lines:

“In its glorious, yet unfortunately more elusive, display beneath the sea, this vivifying and effervescent color mesmerizes the eye and mind. Lying at the center of our naturally vivid and chromatic ecosystem, PANTONE Living Coral is evocative of how coral reefs provide shelter to a diverse kaleidoscope of color.”

Oh really? Do go on. But what does the Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute have to say about this? Well, this actually:

Well that’s cleared that up then. I thought it was all getting a bit woolly and soundbitey for a moment.

Ok, maybe I’m getting a bit oversensitive here. I don’t mean to criticize PANTONE® generally, after all, where would we in the creative industries be without our precious swatches and international colour matching system? I shudder to think.

But would it have hurt PANTONE® to link up with environmental action groups and raise awareness. Maybe even donate a little from sales to help slow (and hopefully reverse) this ecological disaster? Encourage designers and their clients to get involved in environmental issues.

No it wouldn’t. This is a real opportunity to get people talking, encourage wider debate and research, and put pressure on governments to legislate against industrial fishing practices, ocean pollution and address global warming seriously. This is an opportunity lost.

I’ve added a few links at the end of this post. A Google search for ‘coral reef depletion/bleaching/conservation’ will bring up plenty more  information. Please take a little time to find out what is happening. Don’t let this happen on our watch, while we fetish over the exciting new applications of the 2019 PANTONE® Color of the Year on Pinterest.

Can we really be this glib about the state of worldwide coral reefs? Is it really more important that their colours are trending this year? Or maybe I am hoping for too much?

I know it’s only January but I expect that the exalted bureaucrats of the Pantone Colour Institute have had a couple of days off to recover and already begun their Sisyphean task to explore strange new colours, seek out new tints and new tones; to boldly go where… etc.

Maybe in 2049 the PANTONE® Color of the Year will be Dead Coral, or Bleached Coral. Just saying.

Coral Reef Conservation
United Nations Environmental Programme
Coral Guardian
Earthwatch Institute