Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Pantone's 2018 color of the year a nod to creativity, originality, and Prince | Elizabeth Wellington

In recent years, Pantone has chosen a color that goes beyond the influence of fashion and taps into the water cooler chat of the moment.

In a nod to Prince, intuition and creativity, the Pantone Color Institute has named ultra violet its color of the year.
In a nod to Prince, intuition and creativity, the Pantone Color Institute has named ultra violet its color of the year.Read moreChris Carlson / AP

It would seem that Prince has been spending his time in the great beyond whispering sweet nothings into the ears of the color gods.

That has to be the reason.

Because in yet another nod to the legacy of the Purple One (and David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix) and as an acknowledgment of life's great complexities — creativity, originality, ingenuity, the cosmos, intuition, the third-eye chakra,  and the depth of the unknown — Pantone has chosen what it calls ultra violet as its color of the year for 2018.

"This shade is one of nonconformity," said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute in Carlstadt, N.J. "People are looking for ways to display creativity."

The color, Eiseman said, signifies that we are getting "a little braver and bolder."

Each year, Pantone chooses a hue that it says will inform the colors in our lives. In 1999, when the consulting firm began naming a color of the year, the focus was on clothing, beauty, and home decor.

In recent years, however, Pantone has chosen a color (sometimes colors) that goes beyond the influence of fashion and taps into the water cooler chat of the moment. As a result, the much-anticipated color of the year is now a statement of our lifestyle as well as what's going on the world — the real, the aspirational, and the ick.  For example, the 2016 colors of the year were rose quartz and serenity, hopeful shades Pantone said spoke to gender fluidity. The 2017 color was greenery, both a shout-out to nature and an attempt to steer a divided America toward peace.

It can be said that ultra violet is a nudge to force us to stand in the now —  Eiseman said it's an uncanny coincidence that the national nonprofit  Women Against Abuse  uses a shade very close to ultra violet in its awareness campaigns. Pantone's color of the year is considered a measure of the world's mood, but Eiseman stressed that it's not meant as a political statement.

Instead, Eiseman pointed to the positive: 2018 is shaping into a year where we might find ourselves taking chances on the unknown. Creativity may be calling.

"Purple has a futuristic, exploratory aspect to it," Eiseman said. "Purple allows us to play with the possibilities. We don't know where we are going. But at least we are trying."

But it's also likely that we may have no choice but to step outside our comfort zones, because, well, winter  is coming.

Pantone likes its purples.

In 2014, Pantone predicted  radiant orchid, a pinker version of the hue, would serve as an "invitation to innovation" as its color of the year. In August, Pantone named a slightly deeper purple Love Symbol #2, in honor of Prince.

Ultra violet's regal blend of red and blue doused the runways at Michael Kors, Tibi, and the Rows' spring 2018 shows. It's now the center of a violaceous collection of Butter London eyeliners, nail polishes, and lipcolors, a collaboration between the cosmetics company and Pantone.

And, said Jillian Moskovitz, a consultant for Down 2 Earth Interior Design in Elkins Park, ultra violet pillows, vases, and artwork pop in a slate-gray space.

This year, Pantone said its choice was heavily inspired by food. Purple yams, cauliflower, the tips of asparagus, berries, even carrots come in shades of ultra violet.  People are thinking a lot about superfoods these days, Eiseman said.

Caitlin Mateo, executive chef of the Red Owl Tavern, introduced to the fall menu several dishes with purple accents, including a purple potato soup, and a pot de crème dessert made primarily from ube, a Japanese purple yam. Purple carrots add an unexpected color to the restaurant's popular hummus platter.

"We are trying to be mindful not just of how the dishes look, but also of how healthy they are," Mateo said.

Speaking of mindfulness, according to Eiseman, purple is often connected with meditation practices. Ultra violet energizes communities and calms those seeking refuge from today's overstimulated world.

And they are out there in full force, said Chestnut Hill life coach Jennifer Schelter.

"More and more of my clients really want to connect," Schelter said. "But not in a surface way. They are craving a deeper awareness."

So, in 2018, look for ultra violet to anchor graphic designs on billboards and packaging. Purple nails and purple hair will be vibrant on the streets. And Pantone has partnered with the online gallery Saatchi Art to create a limited edition of prints saturated in purple. Included in the collection of art renderings of flowers, abstract designs, and portraits of Bowie and Prince.

The great musical geniuses surely would have been proud.