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2019 Colours of the Year

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Every year around this time, designers, colour experts and creatives at companies around search for a colour to describe our collective aspirations for the coming year. They reflect on the past year and look to the future to determine what needs, desires and emotions will rise to the surface, and they try to find a colour that captures this anticipated zeitgeist.  

This year, many of the colours are tied to nature – both in hue and in name. Shades of reds and pinky browns prevail – terracotta, coral, rust. Colours that call to mind the bohemian scenes of the 70s, where many tried to slow the accelerated pace of the 60s by returning to a simpler life, more connected the land.

If last year’s cooler hues represented a time of mourning and somber reflection, this year’s colours capture our need for resurgence. Tapping into our collective empathy, expressing our emotions and finding time for celebration – perhaps this is the next phase of healing.  

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 Pantone: “Living Coral” 

One of the most famous and anticipated colours of the year comes from Pantone, a company best known for its colour matching system and a supplier of colour measurement tools and software. For 2019, Pantone released Pantone 16-1546, or Living Coral. Pantone explained their choice as representing our need for stability in times of turmoil: "Just as coral reefs are a source of sustenance and shelter to sea life, vibrant yet mellow, Pantone 16-1546, Living Coral embraces us with warmth and nourishment to provide comfort and buoyancy in our continually shifting environment."

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Dutch Boy: “Garden Patch”

Dutch Boy’s colour of the year is a grassy green that, according to the paint company, is "not too deep and not too primary." The colour is part of three new palettes released by the company: palettes that are brighter and warmer than colours they’ve released in the past. Dutch Boy feels that despite challenges, people are looking for happiness and want to surround themselves in colours that reflect this.

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Benjamin Moore: “Metropolitan”

Perhaps one of the outliers in the group is Benjamine Moore –  their colour for 2019 Is a neutral grey with cool undertones. Ellen O'Neill, the Director of Strategic Design Intelligence at Benjamin Moore described Metropolitan as “a colour in the neutral spectrum that references a contemplative state of mind and design. Not arresting nor aggressive, this understated yet glamorous grey creates a soothing, impactful common ground."

Where the other colours in the group are warm, vibrant, Benjamin Moore has chosen a colour that’s neither effusive nor restrained, vibrant nor mellow. It’s an in between colour that sits on the fence between the built and natural world.

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Sherwin Williams: “Cavern Clay”

Sue Wadden, director of color marketing for Sherwin-Williams, said their 2019 Colour of the Year Cavern Clay, “embodies renewal, simplicity, and a free-spirited, bohemian flair.” It’s another colour that captures our nostalgia for time spent outside. “Cavern Clay is an easy way to bring the warmth of the outdoors in,” explains Wadden. “Envision beaches, canyons, and deserts, and sun-washed late summer afternoons—all of this embodied in one color.”

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Dulux: “Spiced Honey”

In announcing Spiced Honey as their 2019 colour of the year, Delux said that it’s time to “let the light in.”

“As we move forward into 2019, we find this pause has given people time to re-energize and deal with the sense of unpredictability with positive action, optimism and purpose,” explained Delux. “If the unpredictability of last year forced people to retreat and regroup, 2019 is the time for their awakening.”

The rich caramel tone is warm and comforting, but also energizing in a deep and sustaining way. It’s not a sugary snack that provides only a brief high – it’s a full meal.  

Graphic DesignTaylor MacLean