Last week, Pantone made their 20th annual announcement for Color of the Year. The 2019 winner? Living Coral, PANTONE 16-1546—a bright, warm, welcoming color right on the cusp between orange and pink. Any
deep-sea divers or thalassophiles (lovers of the sea) out there will be familiar with the shade: It comes from the marine invertebrates that have built their reefs over nearly 110,000 square miles of the earth’s oceans and seas.
Coral are among the oldest animals on the planet, both collectively and individually—they’ve been around in some form since over 500 million years ago, and single specimens of the genus Leiopathes, for example, have lived over 4,000 years. Reefs are currently at risk, however—something that has been floated (pun intended) as one of the reasons for Pantone’s choice. More than half of the world’s coral reefs are dead, and experts estimate that we could be down to 10 percent remaining by 2050 without drastic intervention.
“In its glorious, yet unfortunately more elusive, display beneath the sea, this vivifying and effervescent color mesmerizes the eye and mind,” Pantone said in its announcement. “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.”
Reaction has been mixed. By and large, Pantone is being lauded for the color’s “optimism,” “playfulness,” and “yearning to reconnect with nature” (per Quartz). But Vogue does point out that “the shade can be kind of hard to pinpoint,” going by names as varied as salmon and papaya from various vendors. And Slate outright condemns the choice, arguing that, “As these real-world colors fade away, Pantone is hoping we’ll take solace in their artificial manifestations, vis-à-vis throw pillows and scarves.”
But despite that author’s morose conclusion that she “want[s] the Colors of the Year to populate [her] closet, not the Earth’s in memoriam reel,” the praise outweighs the resistance. Vogue calls it “a cool-girl lipstick color.” GQ describes Pantone as going in a “chiller, more therapeutic” direction than last year. And Refinery29 says that it “represents the natural world and a powerful regenerative force we need to nurture, not ruin.”
Treat yourself to the regenerative optimism of Living Coral in 2019. These already-available promotional items are a great start.