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The Pantone 2023 Color Of The Year Makes A U-Turn

Regina Cole| Contributor

Pantone has announced the color of the year for 2023, and it’s a doozy.

The idea of color of the year has become a big thing for paint companies, manufacturers of wall coverings, wood stain specialists, fabric producers – any company where color is a selling point. But it is good to remember that Pantone, the company that first declared a color of the year in 1999, does so annually without selling accompanying products. A New Jersey printer in the 1950s, the company rose to prominence with a proprietary color-matching system. It has become the international authority on all things color, especially trends.

The color chosen for 2023 takes a sharp turn away from the soft pastels, gentle neutrals and nature-based greens we have been seeing. The new color of the year is an explosive, unapologetic bright red called Viva Magenta.

“This is an unconventional shade for an unconventional time,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute.

“PANTONE 18-1750 Viva Magenta descends from the red family, and is inspired by the red of cochineal, one of the most precious dyes belonging to the natural dye family, as well as one of the strongest and brightest the world has known. Rooted in the primordial, PANTONE 18-1750 Viva Magenta reconnects us to original matter. Invoking the forces of nature, it galvanizes our spirit, helping us to build our inner strength.”

Cochineal bugs — oval-shaped scale insects around 0.2 inches long — are harvested and turned into the natural dyes cochineal extract, carmine and the pure pigment carminic acid. They have been used to color food, textiles and cosmetics for centuries.

“The last few years were transformative in many ways in terms of people’s sense of self, and the way well-being, priorities and identity are being thought about,” said Laurie Pressman, Vice President of the Pantone Color Institute. “We want to use this as an opportunity for a new way of living. We want to explore and experiment. This is a color that highlights our new perspective and our new path.”

Viva Magenta, though red, is balanced between the hot and the cool spectrum.

“It is assertive, but not aggressive, like a fist in a velvet glove,” says Eiseman. “It a transformative color that connects the old with the new.”

She and Pressman agree that Viva Magenta cannot be ignored; as they show swatches of both pale and saturated colors that pair with it, the eye cannot avoid seeing Viva Magenta first. They also agree that the color is fun and upbeat, whether when used for eye shadow as well as lipstick, as an accent against neutral tones, as the basis for a kitchen furnished with chic red appliances, or as a way of introducing drama to otherwise ho-hum products.

“We’re not saying we should discard neutrals, but that we should add excitement and dynamism to our lives,” says Pressman.

Pantone studies international fashion shows, emerging art, new cars and other products to spot emerging trends. In turn, the company’s choice of color of the year influences product and design decisions by homeowners as well as designers.

This year, Pantone worked with its longtime creative partner, Huge, to explore the relationship between new technology and human creativity. Working with the AI generative tool Midjourney, the team created the visual manifestation of PANTONE 18-1750 Viva Magenta by incorporating the messages and ideas embodied by the color to curate an immersive world that examines the connections between nature and technology.

The key visual serves as an invitation into an optimistic and endless new ecosystem called “the Magentaverse.”

Building on this experiment, Pantone and Huge collaborated with ARTECHOUSE, which designed a custom immersive experience that allows the public to explore “the Magentaverse” first-hand. Featuring immersive rooms with textures and interactions that plunge attendees into an array of visual, auditory, and tactile experiences, it is the first time that Pantone and ARTECHOUSE have brought the Pantone Color of the Year to life as an exhibition at ARTECHOUSE Miami, open to the public from December 3, 2022, as part of Art Basel Miami Beach.

“To embody the spirit of PANTONE 18-1750 Viva Magenta, we embarked on a new approach of collective creative collaboration,” says Pressman.

“Leveraging the power of technology and Pantone’s expertise in color to curate a new interpretation of the Pantone Color of the Year, we created the Magentaverse, an unexpected and exciting color universe we look forward to sharing with the world.”

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