Pantone's Color of the Year - Classic Blue
(Originally published in the Napa Valley Register)
Here we are in the middle of February and I have not, as of yet, written about Pantone’s Color of the Year. As someone who is diligent in being alert, organized, and on time, I should have written such a column back in December. So, why am I not feeling any angst? Because 2020’s color is timeless. It is popular and widely used every day of the year no matter the year. I remodeled a client’s kitchen using this color 22 years ago. I used it in another kitchen just two years ago and I can’t remember how many times I’ve used it during the years in between.
This enduring color is Pantone’s Classic Blue 19-4052. It’s a true blue, a primary blue, the first blue you think of when you hear the word. It’s not navy, not periwinkle, not aqua, turquoise nor sky blue. Just blue-blue. But before describing it further, let me first give a little background on Pantone and how this annual ritual came to be.
Pantone is an American corporation founded by Lawrence Herbert in 1962 and headquartered in New Jersey. With Herbert’s educational background in chemistry, he created The Pantone Color Matching System which standardizes color reproduction. This standardization allows different manufacturers, in different locations, to ensure that colors match without having to be in direct contact with one another.
Since 1999, Pantone has also been known for declaring the "Color of the Year.” It’s quite a process. Twice a year, the company hosts a secret meeting in a European capital. The attendees are representatives from various nations' color standards groups. After two days of presentations and debate, they choose a color for the following year. What are they debating? The chosen color is meant to connect to the mood in the world at that given time.
As we begin the decade of the 20s, Laura Pressman, Vice President of the Pantone Color Institute, describes Classic Blue the following way, “It’s a reassuring blue, full of calm and confidence.” She continued to say, “Pantone felt that the color highlights dependability, trustworthiness, credibility, and constancy, all traits that are valued in the fast-paced, high-stress situations of the current world.” She also pointed out that it matches the blue of the sky at dusk which may be the reason people can universally relate to it.
While it’s nice to have a story behind Pantone’s chosen color, I have no doubt that you will hear of other 2020 colors of the year. For instance, Benjamin Moore picked its soft pink, “First Light 2102-70”, for its 2020 color. Sherwin Williams chose “Naval SW6244.” Behr announced a light green called “Back to Nature” and Pittsburgh Paint picked a jewel-tone blue called “Chinese Porcelain.”
Which color is the true color of the year and why does it matter? I honestly don’t have an answer and it doesn’t matter. It’s fun, interesting, and a great marketing technique that impacts the design and fashion industry worldwide. For those who may need a nudge in using color, especially a bold or unusual color, the annual proclamation may instill the confidence to do so. I tend to favor Pantone’s yearly choice because it was the first company to introduce the idea – Cerulean Blue in 1999. Other paint companies jumped on board with their own selections starting in 2007.
When I think of Classic Blue, I think of lacquered kitchen cabinets or walls of bookcases in a home library. I think of wainscot, front doors, flower pots, and ginger jars filled with blue hydrangeas. Last year, I designed a bathroom with a blue vanity, blue glass tile, blue and white wallpaper, blue ceiling, blue light pendants, and a blue floor. Sound overwhelming? Because there was a lot of white in the wallpaper and the floor tile was light blue, the overall scheme was balanced just right.
Color balance is key to a nicely styled interior no matter the hue or the year in which it was highlighted. If you’re a fan of blue, hop onto Instagram and take a look at #blueandwhitehome for dozens and dozens of luscious photos and inspiration.
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