It’s the colour of choice for Roman Emperors, rock stars Prince and Jimi Hendrix, and, of course, wraps the most delicious Quality Street in the tin. Now purple can add Pantone Colour of the Year 2018 to its rich résumé of accolades.
Pantone, the global authority on colour, selected the hue – Ultra Violet 18-3838 to be precise – as it is “an enigmatic shade that evokes the inventive spirit and imaginative thinking that challenges the status quo”.
The Colour of the Year is chosen by a team of experts at Pantone based on extensive trends research. “The Pantone Colour of the Year has come to mean so much more than ‘what’s trending’ in the world of design; it’s truly a reflection of what’s needed in our world today,” said Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Colour Institute. “As individuals around the world become more fascinated with colour and realise its ability to convey deep messages and meanings, designers and brands should feel empowered to use colour to inspire and influence. The Colour of the Year is one moment in time that provides strategic direction for the world of trend and design, reflecting the Pantone Colour Institute’s year-round work doing the same for designers and brands.”
In explaining this year’s choice, Pantone point to purple’s association with counterculture, unconventionality and artistic expression, noting that musical icons including David Bowie, Prince, and Jimi Hendrix all brought shades of Ultra Violet to the forefront of western pop culture.
“We are living in a time that requires inventiveness and imagination. It is this kind of creative inspiration that is indigenous to Pantone 18-3838 Ultra Violet, a blue-based purple that takes our awareness and potential to a higher level,” added Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Colour Institute. “From exploring new technologies and the greater galaxy, to artistic expression and spiritual reflection, intuitive Ultra Violet lights the way to what is yet to come.”
Commentators often read political significance into the Colour of the Year choice. Last year’s hue – Greenery – spoke of economic vitality and environmental sustainability whilst in Pantone’s choice of two colours in 2016 (a pink and a blue) some saw a nod to evolving attitudes to gender identity. Whilst on the UK’s political spectrum purple might be most commonly associated with UKIP, in the USA it is the colour of bipartisanship (blending Democrat blue and Republican red) – fittingly purple featured strongly in the outfit worn by Hillary Clinton as she delivered her concession speech.
Rumours that Tangerine Tango – 2012 Pantone Colour of the Year – was probably going to be awarded the honour again in 2018 but decided to pass as ‘probably is no good’ are unsubstantiated.