• Akshayta Rao

A very peri big influence

Every year, around the first week of January, millions of designers eagerly await a reveal that will transform the way they live. No, I’m not referring to horoscopes, but to Pantone’s announcement of the Colour of the Year. And this year, Pantone decided to bestow this honour on Very Peri.

Pantone, the global authority on colour, claims that as we recover from a global crisis, ‘Very Peri helps us embrace an altered landscape of possibilities, opening us up to a new vision as we rewrite our lives’. Is this just marketing jargon or does this colour truly mean something? Let’s find out.

The creative industry makes its living off forecasted trends. These trends dictate what works for a company, how audiences will respond and ultimately, what will sell. And colour happens to play a vital role in the trend forecasting process.

One might think that fashion designers randomly create a collection based on what they’re feeling that season or that restaurants just happen to set the visual tone for their spaces given the resources they have. The actual process is, in fact, quite scientific and mostly dictated by forecasting specialists. Colour experts try to predict the mood of the upcoming year by scanning the world for influences in the entertainment industry, upcoming sporting events, new technologies, fashion, design, popular travel destinations, new lifestyles and, wait for it, socio-economic conditions.

What – society affects colour trends? YES. The colour of the year is an amalgamation of everything we see around us. It is a visual representation of our cultural climate and, along the way, becomes an indelible part of our history. Let’s look at this in action:

2021: Ultimate Gray & Illuminating Yellow - This year, governed by a mix of emotions due to the pandemic, was defined by the rock solid, gloomy gray and the warm, hopeful yellow.

2020: Classic Blue - A colour that promises protection & safety, classic blue represented the year we searched for stability in an unprecedented world crisis.

2019: Living Coral - Representing a fusion of digital and natural life, the heartening coral was a perfect fit for 2019 as we spent it in search of more ‘human’ experiences and battled the growing dangers of climate change.

2018: Ultra-Violet - Complex and contemplative, ultraviolet is bold and unconventional representing the spread of the #MeToo movement and the famed royal wedding.

While this analysis is surely interesting, skeptics claim that it’s easy to assign meaning to these colours in retrospect. Many believe that the process is almost reverse-engineered, since Pantone’s descriptions are generic and mostly centered around well-being or positivity.

Why, then, is Pantone still relevant? For the same reason that horoscopes are. People want something to believe in. By creating an air of curiosity around the colour selection process and subsequent revelation, Pantone has continued to remain the dictator of colour and ultimately, taste.

Businesses value this guidance because it gives them a template to work with. Designers live for these announcements because we’re always looking for something fresh. And lastly, the everyday consumer gravitates towards these colours because they’re carefully selected to evoke certain emotions. Truth be told, no one can escape Pantone’s influence. So, the next time you’re out in a store and notice very peri, recognize that this decision represents months of planning and millions of dollars just so YOU think it’s worthy enough to take back home. Unless your horoscope says otherwise.


About Me

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Welcome to Tryst with Design. This blog has added immense value to my life, and I love having the opportunity to share my musings with you. Read on, and enjoy.