Pantone Colors of the Year: Reminiscing the 2010’s

by Vanessa Davidson

The PANTONE® Color of the Year is so much more than a swatch. It inspires trends from interior design to sneakers, influences branding in every industry and captures the emotional tone of the year for posterity. Pantone’s color chart provides color codes to ensure accurate communication for designers across the globe. The Pantone Color Institute conducts research on how color influences human thought processes, emotions and physical reactions to help professionals utilize it more effectively. This Institute has selected a color each year since 2000 that best represents the design trends and global zeitgeist of the times. Let’s take a look back over the past 19 years of Pantone colors…

2019 – Pantone 16-1546 Living Coral


Named vibrant, yet mellow, Pantone's 2019 color of the year is known for its striking and bold presence throughout the world's natural surroundings as well as our Instagram feeds. Living Coral emanates a sense of lightheartedness and optimism which is something everyone is looking forward to in the new year. 

“Color is an equalizing lens through which we experience our natural and digital realities and this is particularly true for Living Coral,” says Executive Director, Leatrice Eiseman."With consumers craving human interaction and social connection, the humanizing and heartening qualities displayed by this color hit a responsive chord."

2018 – Pantone 18-3838 Ultra Violet


In 2018 Pantone chose a color that was heavily based on our love of exploration that also pays homage to lost legends. Ultra Violet is a dramatic and mysterious purple shade meant to evoke the vast night sky. Inspired by the new space race, this color also looks back on the people who made purple what it is – icons like Prince, David Bowie, and Jimi Hendrix.

“We are living in a time that requires inventiveness and imagination” says Leatrice Eiseman. “It is this kind of creative inspiration that is indigenous to PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet, a blue-based purple that takes our awareness and potential to a higher level. From exploring new technologies and the greater galaxy, to artistic expression and spiritual reflection intuitive Ultra Violet lights the way to what is yet to come.


2017 – Pantone 15-0343 Greenery


2017 brought us a bright inspiring yellow-green as the color of the year. A color meant to remind us all of a fresh spring day, where you wake up to the birds chirping and step outside to breathe in the fresh clean air. This color was inspired by the return to nature. Pantone states “The more submerged people are in modern life, the greater their innate craving to immerse themselves in the physical beauty and inherent unity of the natural world. This shift is reflected by the proliferation of all things expressive of Greenery in daily lives through urban planning, architecture, lifestyle and design choices globally.”

Eiseman states “Greenery bursts forth in 2017 to provide us with the reassurance we yearn for amid a tumultuous social and political environment. Satisfying our growing desire to rejuvenate and revitalize, Greenery symbolizes the re-connection we seek with nature, one another and a larger purpose.”

2016 – Pantone 13-1520 + Pantone 15-3919 Rose Quartz and Serenity


For the first time in their history Pantone decided to choose two colors for the 2016 color of the year. Based on what they saw culturally and societally within the changing gender movement, Pantone chose two colors that can be blended together and change. They sought to challenge the traditional views of color association.

On the two-color choice Eiseman said, “Joined together, Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.”

2015 – Pantone 18-1438 Marsala


Inspired by the strong fortified wine bearing the same namesake, Marsala was the color chosen for 2015. A deep earthy reddish-brown made for an amazing accent color for the home, clothing, and accessories.  Pantone states that’s “Marsala enriches our minds, bodies and souls.”

Leatrice Eiseman, the Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute says of the classic color, “Marsala is a subtly seductive shade, one that draws us in to its embracing warmth.” It’s a color that is universally appealing and “translates easily to fashion, beauty, industrial design, home furnishings and interiors.”

2014 – Pantone 18-3224 Radiant Orchid

Which brings us to the Pantone Color of the Year 2014, Radiant Orchid. This bright combination of fuchsia, purple and pink encourages originality and creativity, which makes sense for a year that’s seeing amazing technology breakthroughs and the continued rise of small business success in America. Eiseman explained her choice for the Pantone Color of 2014:

“…Radiant Orchid inspires confidence and emanates great joy, love and health. It is a captivating purple, one that draws you in with its beguiling charm.”

2013 – Pantone 17-5641 Emerald Green


Vivid and verdant, Emerald reflected the renewal and growth the nation was relieved to experience in 2013. Emerald represents prosperity, sophistication and luxury in many cultures making it a stylish choice for high-end fashion and home goods.

Eiseman said in the press release, “As it has throughout history, multifaceted Emerald continues to sparkle and fascinate. Symbolically, Emerald brings a sense of clarity, renewal and rejuvenation, which is so important in today’s complex world.”

2012 – Pantone 17-1463 Tangerine Tango


Tangerine Tango is an optimistic reddish orange. This color was featured prominently by fashion designers in 2012 with Tommy Hilfiger, Nanette Lepore, Elie Tahari and Adrienne Vittadini showcasing it in their spring collections.

The release announcing its selection states, “[Tangerine Tango] continues to provide the energy boost we need to recharge and move forward.”

2011 – Pantone 18-2120 Honeysuckle


In 2011 Pantone selected Honeysuckle, a dynamic reddish pink. Pantone also released a popular line of bridesmaid dresses with The Dessy Group in 200 colors and the Honeysuckle dress was everywhere at 2011 weddings

The release stated, “[Honeysuckle] emboldens us to face everyday troubles with verve and vigor…Honeysuckle is encouraging and uplifting. It elevates our psyche beyond escape, instilling the confidence, courage and spirit to meet the exhaustive challenges that have become part of everyday life.”

2010 - Pantone 15-5519 Turquoise


In 2010 the financial crisis was still affecting many Americans and Pantone decided we could all use a little escape.

“[Turquoise] is believed to be a protective talisman, a color of deep compassion and healing, and a color of faith and truth, inspired by water and sky. Through years of color word-association studies, we also find that Turquoise represents an escape to many – taking them to a tropical paradise that is pleasant and inviting, even if only a fantasy,” Eiseman explained.

Do you remember these color trends throughout the years? You may recall them better than other events because recent research shows our memory works better with color than black and white. Perhaps something to consider in your future store décor and brand design…