A Commentary on Rose Quartz and Serenity, PANTONE Color of the Year

For the first time, two colors were chosen to be PANTONE Color of the Year: Rose Quartz and Serenity. Or, for you creative types out there, PANTONE 13-1520 and PANTONE 15-3919.

So what is PANTONE Color of the Year exactly? It is a symbolic color chosen by Pantone as a snapshot of what they see “taking place in our culture that serves as an expression of a mood and an attitude.”

For 2016, Pantone recognizes people’s need for tranquility amidst daily stressors, and predicts that consumers will seek colors that promote mindfulness and well-being. The chosen colors, Leatrice Eisenman, Executive Director of Pantone Color Institute®, says, “demonstrate an inherent balance…reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.”

But soothing and peaceful isn’t what Kyle Newton, GodwinGroup Art Director, feels. “My personal preference in colors differs greatly from these,” he says. “I want to feel excited and energetic when I see a color. I feel very dull when looking at Pantone’s chosen colors this year.”

Jimbo Harwell, Director of Design, admits that, as in Newton’s case, the colors’ connection and wellness, as well as soothing sense of order and peace, “relies on the beholder.” But while he was initially disappointed, Pantone’s idea of using two colors for the first time piqued his interest.

“They are expecting to use the two together (almost never separately) to evoke a particular feeling, symbolizing the times usually only achieved by one,” Harwell says. “Concerning the colors chosen, I may give them a chance. You must look past the chips or swatches and experience them in context. It seems they want us to fall for how they are used, not for the formulas themselves.”

However, Harwell’s generous outlook isn’t shared by majority of the Godwin Creative department.

“I’m disappointed that Pantone chose two colors to try and create a ‘balance,’” Stacye Rinehart, VP, Creative Director, states. “It feels like contrived reasoning to me — as if they couldn’t make up their mind about it and were afraid to take a stand one way or another. It doesn’t help that the two ‘baby blanket’ colors do not appeal to me personally — for fashion, decorating or marketing. Sorry, Pantone.”

Tal McNeill, Executive Creative Director, was reminded of a baby blanket as well. “I really don’t see these colors gaining much traction outside of the infant wear industry,” he says.

Karen Johnson, VP Agency Producer, has never cared much for any shade of pink, but thinks Serenity is soothing. But her greatest concerns lie with the effect on marketing materials: “Pastels are not the easiest to print or keep consistent.”

Beyond the debate of these “baby blanket” colors, Newton isn’t behind the idea of the Color of the Year. “Personally, I think the whole concept of representing an entire year with a color or two is very limiting,” he says.

Eisenman would disagree. The Executive Director explains that the color combination opens doors and challenges traditional perceptions of color association. This soft pink and pale blue coincide with society’s movements toward gender equality, an increased openness to color as a form of expression, the lessening concern about being judged and exposure to different approaches to color usage.

“No doubt Leatrice Eisenman, along with her team and force of trend scouts, continued their work to forecast a color for 2016 which will fly by like 2015,” says Harwell. “They have their facts, but this trend is likely an intentional use of intuition.”

So what do you think about PANTONE Color of the Year 2016? Are you off to paint your bedroom walls Serenity blue? Do you believe the combination is breaking societal boundaries? Or are Rose Quartz and Serenity just fancy names for baby pink and baby blue? Share your thoughts with us!