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How Does Pantone Come Up with the Color of the Year?

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Whether it's the soothing blue you painted your bedroom or the vivacious red of your favorite stilettos, color plays an important role in our lives—and nobody takes the power of color more seriously than Pantone. The paper goods company that now specializes in standardizing colors across industries recently announced their Color of the Year for 2014: Radiant Orchid, PANTONE 18-3224. And a lot more went into selecting the purply-pink hue than simply flipping through paint chips.

The Search
International tastemakers in industries including fashion, pop culture, technology, music, travel, and even weather began to scour the globe in search of emerging color trends in January 2013. And it's not as simple as noting what’s hot on the runways or which makeup is selling, according to Leatrice Eiseman, executive director at Pantone. "It has to resonate around the world, to express in color what is taking place in the global zeitgeist," she said in a press release.

By the time spring rolls around, the color experts have culled their favorite hues and Pantone hosts a secret two-day meeting where everyone presents their top choice. Debate ensues about the merits of each color until a conclusion is finally reached.

What’s in a “Color of the Year?”
The main priority is in finding a color whose symbolism matches current world issues and feelings. For example, 2013's color, Emerald, was selected to exemplify growth, renewal, and prosperity—all things in our collective consciousness as economies began to recover.

This year the symbolism is built around the purple family, known for its magical and innovative properties, Eiseman says. She adds that "wearing [Radiant Orchid] enhances the feeling of being creative—we’re all looking for a touch of uniqueness—and wearing it can imbue you with that." Eiseman also points out that the color was chosen because the "radiant" aspect lends a "beautiful sheen" while the "orchid" makes it "exotic and intriguing.”

The Reign of Radiant Orchid
Once the color of the year is agreed upon, Pantone works on refining and defining the tint. They explore how it can be used in fabrics for fashion and decorating, in hues for makeup (It even gets its own Sephora line!), and in print colors for advertising, among other things. The color for the upcoming year is finally announced to the public in December of the previous year with all the proceedings from the meetings printed in a book called Pantone View, purchased for $750 by fashion designers, decorators, and other consumer-oriented companies "to help guide their designs and planning for future products."

In the end, what it means to your walls or shoe collection is up to you, but expect to see a lot of the shimmery pinkish-purple in 2014!


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