The Pantone Colour Institute have chosen the fishy pastel orange hue to represent 2019
Words: Daniël Geldenhuys | Illustration: Getty
Ever felt like you might be the star of The Truman Show? (For the Gen Zs who don't know, this is a movie starring Jim Carrey about a man who discovers his entire life is a scripted reality show.) When it comes to the colours you interact with in an industrialised world, you sort of are. The producer of your show is Pantone, a colour-to-commerce company that functions as a pigment illuminate, curating shades and spectrums that filter from their office through your favourite brands into clothes, stationery and homeware, Insta feeds, and more.
Until 1956, there was no way for you and your friend on another continent to duplicate an exact shade of blue. This problem (a real issue when it came to branding and manufacturing) was solved by Lawrence Herbert who compiled a catalogue of every shade of every colour, listing their comprising pigments and giving them corresponding numbers. A universal language of colour was born. He called it Pantone.
Today, Pantone is a privately owned company that sells block-colour novelty items (water bottles, key chains, mugs) in a range of pantones and labelled with their unique colour codes. The Pantone Matching system, the ever-growing language first recorded by Herbert, continues to regulate production of textiles, plastics, and printing. The Pantone Colour Institute (the Anna Wintour of colour) predicts colour trends and works with brands to establish coherent colour identities. They're responsible for, amongst others, Tiffany's blue and Barbie's pink.
Every year the Pantone Colour Institute picks a Pantone colour of the year. 2019's is PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral. The fishy pastel orange hue, they believe, "embraces us with warmth and nourishment to provide comfort and buoyancy in our continually shifting environment." Pantone says the shade connotes authenticity in the age of (social media) faking it, providing a palate that is at once upbeat and calming.
Why do we care? There's power in the knowledge of forces that govern the reality show that is your life, especially when they hide in plain sight. Be on the lookout for Living Coral this year, and learn from the ways it's used by individuals and brands around you. Use it to infuse your closet and insta feed with an extra dose of realness. If you're not feeling ready for a full coral look, ease yourself into the hue by pairing it with anything denim - a great jacket or pair of jeans will normalise the look without toning it down. Don't waste time: when it comes to new trends it's always good to be able to claim "I wore it first."
Start living coral with these easy-wearing closet refreshers: