Living Coral – Pantone Color of the Year for 2019 Comes with a Warning

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Bojana Bajac

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Living Coral - Pantone color of the year for 2019 comes with a Warning - SampleBoard

We’ve been waiting and anticipating, and finally – it’s been revealed! According to the Pantone Color Institute, world’s leading expert when it comes to color (at least in terms of hype), the color of the year 2019 will be Living Coral!

Move away Ultra Violet, we have a new favorite to play with and don’t worry – we promise you won’t be missed!

As we are already used to, Pantone’s choice for 2019 is bold and eye-catching and comes as a complete opposite to its predecessor. Early reactions of the interior design industry authorities have been more or less positive so far, forecasting, for the first time in three years, a bright future in the field of interior design for Pantone’s favorite.

Living Coral - Pantone color of the year for 2019 comes with a Warning - SampleBoard

Living Coral as a Symbol

But let’s make something clear from the very start – the lines below are not going to be a trend talk with matchy-matchy tips for coordinating decor and accessories in the hottest shade of the year. Pantone color predictions have grown to become so much more than what shade will be trending in the seasons ahead. For the past eighteen years, Pantone has been traveling the world, analyzing cultural and overall society trends and gathering insights to form a bigger picture of what’s going on in the world. Eighteen years is a looot of data!

Laurie Pressman, Vice President of the Pantone Color Institute points out: “(Pantone Color of the Year) is a color snapshot symbolic of what’s taking place in the culture at a moment in time.“ But last year she went even further: “The Pantone Color 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.”Since their mission has grown from just analyzing trends to forming them and offering solutions, discussing Living Coral as Pantone color of the year for 2019 would only make sense if we reflect on the story they delivered to back up their choice.

Living Coral - Pantone color of the year for 2019 comes with a Warning - SampleBoard

What does Living Coral stand for?

Described as: An animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energizes and enlivens with a softer edge, Living Coral marries the best of two worlds – pastels and neons. Like in many great marriages, it’s not easy to pinpoint where the one stops and the other begins, but this is also true for almost everything about this bold shade.

Living Coral is somewhere between pink and orange, sweet and toxic, playful and dangerous, optimistic and apocalyptic. It is truly somewhere in between and allows for a range of different interpretations.

Depending on the context, Living Coral can feel warm and mellow, reassuring and comforting. It can be uplifting and inspiring, or even childish at times. It reminds us of desert sandstones, adobe dwellings and tropical sunsets.

“Living Coral emits the desired, familiar, and energizing aspects of color found in nature. (…) Sociable and spirited, the engaging nature of PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral welcomes and encourages lighthearted activity. Symbolizing our innate need for optimism and joyful pursuits, PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral embodies our desire for playful expression,” stands in Pantone’s press release.

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Shop the pieces in Pantone Living Coral from this mood board at Italian Bark

But Living Coral can also be warning, electric, distant, highly digital and difficult to chew. Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, offers an explanation for this side too:

Representing the fusion of modern life, PANTONE Living Coral is a nurturing color that appears in our natural surroundings and at the same time, displays a lively presence within social media.”

Pantone continues: “With consumers craving human interaction and social connection, the humanizing and heartening qualities displayed by the convivial Pantone Living Coral hit a responsive chord. (…) As we continue to seek immersive experiences that offer intimacy and genuine connection, Living Coral symbolizes our innate need for optimism and joyful, lighthearted pursuits.”

Year after year, Pantone points out to the feeling of disconnection brought by digital society. We desperately crave for optimism (Greenery, Ultra Violet, Living Coral), approval (Rose Quartz), and now intimacy (Living Coral). Being constantly connected via social media, we actually nurture a growing need for intimacy within ourselves, with each other and with Nature. Having in mind the vast amount of data Pantone has at its disposal, should we be worried?

Living Coral - Pantone color of the year for 2019 comes with a Warning - SampleBoard

Why Living Coral?

With all the political, economic, environmental and social crises that hit the world in the past couple of years, we seek psychological shelters where we can unwind, regroup and simply feel good. Warm, natural and strong, Living Coral is supposed to bring just that: “Lying at the center of our naturally vivid and chromatic ecosystem, PANTONE Living Coral is evocative of how coral reefs provide shelter to a diverse kaleidoscope of color.”

Pantone’s cryptic remarks might be dressed in beautiful wishful thinking, but this year, to be honest, I find them dark and morbid. In times when real corals who provide shelter to marine life, are rapidly disappearing and are being washed away of their signature colors, naming a color of the year as Living Coral and saying that it stands for optimism and life doesn’t sound right. But I am not the only one who feels this way. Yet, according to Pantone’s research, a majority of people see sunsets and a warm hug in it. Perhaps I would be in the same team if it wasn’t for the context.

Color talk

Neon, orange, red, yellow… they are all very much on trend already. But at the moment they are mostly earthy and muted with occasional pastel pops. Cavern Clay, Sherwin Williams color of the year for 2019 is a great example of this natural, retro look. But saturated, dramatic colors are gaining momentum and Pantone saw it.

In an interview with Apartment Therapy, Emily Henderson came up with a beautiful description for the shade: “2017’s Millennial Pink had a love child with 2018’s Terra Cotta and it is the new Pantone color of the year – Living Coral.

Living Coral is a team player. It’s gender neutral and very inclusive. It goes pretty much with everything: teal, camel, navy blue, grey, off-white, green, gold… It looks beautiful on rich textures and definitely smoking hot as velvet. It can be used in pops or as a dominant color. In interior design, pops will be preferred, since an all coral look can be a bit difficult to pull off without creating an overbearing statement. However, it is not impossible.

Even though we don’t find its symbolics very much appealing, we cannot but feel fondly about Living Coral. We too believe the Pantone color of the year for 2019 will be loved by interior designers around the world, and we look forward to seeing how you are going to implement it in your mood boards.

Don’t forget to share your designs with us by using #sampleboardinspo on Instagram.

Living Coral - Pantone color of the year for 2019 comes with a Warning - SampleBoard
Living Coral - Pantone color of the year for 2019 comes with a Warning - wedding board - SampleBoard

Best Board of January 2019 at SampleBoard – created by Melanie Revell



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