Well, it’s that time of year again.

The godparents of colour at the Pantone Colour Institute have released the colour that is going to be leading the way in 2016; only this time there’s something of a twist.

To reflect societies move towards “gender equality and fluidity” (their words not ours) the colour kings have decreed that 2016 shall, for the first time, be a year that blends TWO colours: Rose Quartz (like a mineral pink) and Serenity (a light blue and not a colour based on the Joss Whedon film of the same name)

Two very different colours. And apparently it’s social progress that’s got us here, so let’s find out a little more.

What is the Pantone colour of the year?

If you don’t already know, Pantone’s Colour Institute chooses a ‘Colour of the Year’ in the hope of predicting – and hopefully capturing – the global zeitgeist.

Apparently – according to their website at least – their annual colour selection is “a snapshot of what we see taking place in our culture”, adding that their colour choice “serves as an expression of mood and attitude.”

That may sound a little pretentious to some, but they’ve been doing it for years now and people – fashionistas, designers, trendsetters – they always have their ears primed for the news.

Even we took the time to cover last year’s colour of the year – Marsala – and also dedicated a page to its “mind, body and soul enriching” properties on our Pinterest boards.

But looking at this year’s colour choices, I am personally struggling to get on board with Rose Quartz and Serenity.

Is it just me or does anyone else think that these two colours are a little too baby-ish to truly reflect societal change in 2016?

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The background of this year’s choice(s)

In their official release Pantone had quite a bit to say on these two contrasting, but still complimentary, colours.

With that in mind, I thought that I would write a contrasting – and yet complimentary – statement about both colours, that is hopefully easier to understand than Pantone’s more long-winded efforts.

So here we go…

Pantone had this to say about Rose Quartz – “A persuasive and yet gentle tone that conveys passion and a sense of composure.”

What I have to say about Rose Quartz – “It’s the same shade of pink that you’d put your baby daughter in.”

And Pantone’s musings on Serenity – “weightless and airy, bringing feelings of respite and relaxation even in turbulent times.”

My take – “it’s sky blue.”

It’s things like this that get me thinking; if these are the colours that are reflecting the zeitgeist and are symbolic of society as a whole, what does that really say about us?

And I have to ask, when it comes to picking the right shade of blue or pink for your new son or daughter’s bedroom, are you really going to choose between Rose Quartz and Serenity or will you be sticking with plain old Pink and Blue?

That’s a question perhaps best answered after we look into what Pantone are all about.

A history of Pantone

The folks at Pantone are far from newcomers to the world of design and colour.

In fact, the company has been an authority on colour for the last 52 years – and if memory serves me correctly they even get a nice little mention in a couple of seasons of that swinging 60’s advertising series, Mad Men.

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Since the height of flower power, Pantone have made it their mission to celebrate the role of colour in expressing attitudes and emotions and have always looked to make statements that reflect the cultural musings of society.

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No truer example of this can be found in their history than when they made the switch from the bright and positive fluorescent colours of the 1960’s, to the more solid and earthly colours of the early 1970’s – a time when economic instability was big news across the globe.

As the years have passed and our collective culture has changed, Pantone have updated their colour selections to reflect the times and make relevant statements – through colour – about life as we know it.

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How do they choose what colour to…er, choose?

Despite what you may think, Pantone don’t just pick colours out of thin air (though with the sky blue tone of 2016’s Serenity, you could be forgiven for thinking that they do); instead, they take an exceedingly well-researched approach towards finding the very latest ‘must-have’ trends, so that you can create a home environment that is contemporary and on style.

And as flippant as I may have been about their colour of the year selection earlier, I have to say that they are far from flippant in their choices of colour and style trends.

They have experts that visit cities throughout the world in order to gain inspiration from every conceivable facet that mankind has at its disposal – they take inspiration from international trends and also consider major events in the world of art, film and entertainment.

This basically means, if Pantone decided that the next trend is going to be shag pile rugs that are the same colour as the goose bumps on the arm of an Orangutan that has just found a year’s supply of gravy in the deep and dark forests of Borneo, then that is going to be the trend that everyone follows.

As Bruce Hornsby and Tupac said: “That’s just the way it is.”

2016

Anyway, back to the choices they have made this year.

Choosing two colours – Pantone says – is supposed to symbolise the fact that, as a society, we are moving towards gender equality and fluidity.

We are now a society that has a ‘generation that is less concerned with being typecast or judged’ and thanks to the open and infinite availability of digital information, we are now also a generation of people that has its eyes open when it comes to the ‘differing approaches of colour usage’.

I think what they are trying to convey – though I could be wrong – is that people all over the world are starting to realise that gender is a social construct – so here are two traditionally gender-specific colours; aren’t we clever?

But surely that is all types of wrong!

Could it be wrong?

If you are picking a colour that reflects the ever closer gender equality that society is approaching, why not choose a colour that is gender neutral?

I’m sorry, but I can’t help but think that Pantone – in their infinite wisdom – have totally missed the point that their own researchers were actually trying to make.

Baby pink and a baby blue are the two colours that have defined genders for years – if “it’s a girl!” it’s pink, a boy – blue.

What they should have done is chosen a colour that reflects our continued move towards gender equality – something that represents how far we have come.

If it’s true that we are less concerned with judgements about how we look, what we wear and what colours we use to express our thoughts, feelings and ideas, would it not have been more appropriate to choose a colour that reflects that?

Maybe I’m wrong, but part of me feels that two colours is a bit of a cop out to be honest; almost as if they really couldn’t decide which would reflect the global consensus, so they picked two colours because they happen to go together.

Well Pantone, Eggs and Bacon go together, but if you had to pick your favourite, the one that you loved more dearly than the other, if your life depended upon it and you had to choose ONE, not two, but just one, which would it be? (Bacon every time, right?)

I think the same principal should apply here too.

But perhaps it does make a little sense

The 2016 two colour choice is perhaps a reflection of the increasing androgynous effect currently doing the rounds in fashion and design.

Creativity and culture go hand in hand. It’s a symbiotic relationship. And as Pantone have decided to release 2 colours this year, the world of fashion is increasingly being inspired by gender fluidity – clothes that suit both men and women are becoming the norm for most designers out there.

But it’s not like the idea of gender neutrality hasn’t been around for a while – I mean, what gender are Eeyore and Piglet (answers in the comments please).

In short, the choice is a good one.

From a design perspective, I cannot fault Pantone’s thinking – the colours meld and bleed into one-another seamlessly and you could easily incorporate them into your home décor by adding new cushions or painting your large furniture with one of the chosen colours; just be bold enough to try it.

The colours honestly remind me a little of those really cool tie-dyed T-shirts – that were popular when I was a kid – the kind that were magically enhanced by the heat from your hand.

Really smart!

All in all, Pantone have made their point and made it well. Now we just have to see how the respective world’s of both fashion and design react to 2016’s colour(s) of the year.

For more info on Pantone and for a whole host of cool design ideas using their colours of the year, check out our Pinterest boards and come and visit us on Facebook and Twitter, and share with us how you plan to make the most of Rose Quartz and Serenity.

Merry Christmas and all the very blessed for the New Year.

Stay safe and happy heating!

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