The color of the year is announced in early December. This year’s color? Described by Pantone as “vibrating with vim and vigor,” Viva Magenta 18-1750 is further described as “brave and fearless, and a pulsating color whose exuberance promotes a joyous and optimistic celebration, writing a new narrative.” 

There is no corner of the civilized world in which the colors of Pantone are not to be seen, marketed, manufactured, bought and sold, or experienced as a fleeting emotional reaction. The majority of the hues we encounter in our lives are wherever we go, wherever there is light. It’s in our clothes, our hair, our food, our home decor, in every moment of our waking lives and, more often than we may realize, in our thoughts. Its influence is truly global. 

The process to determine each year’s color is steeped in secrecy. Twice each year Pantone’s Color Institute hosts a group of color representatives in Europe, most of whom hold positions at various national color standards groups. The meeting is secret. It lasts for two days, during which the group gives presentations and debates. 

The person behind the color of the year is the Executive Director of the Color Institute, Leatrice Eiseman. In a recent interview she explained the choice of 2023’s Viva Magenta “In this age of technology, we look to draw inspiration from nature and what is real. “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.” Pantone said its 2023 Color of the Year is powerful and empowering — a new animated red that revels in pure joy, encouraging experimentation and self-expression without restraint. It’s an electrifying and boundary-less shade that manifests itself as a stand-out statement.

The annual announcement of Pantone’s color selection for the following year gives designers, marketers, fashion houses, furniture makers, food packagers, and electronics manufacturers, among many other industry players, a chance to plan ahead. As designers, Red Thinking gets more than just a particular shade of a color suggested. Pantone produces an evocative pitch, a guide to why this particular color is just right for the coming year.

Did you know that Pantone has an app where it allows users to access thousands of dollars worth of color information, as they extract Pantone colors from their photographs? We know the app well! While not perfectly color-accurate, it’s a helpful tool for designers and amateurs alike. The company also developed a book of skin-tones. While their original intention was to sell it to photo retouchers, the product found itself in demand from unexpected quarters. Cosmetics firm Sephora, for example, uses it to help their customers make perfect makeup choices. 

For you trivia folks: The name Pantone combines the ancient Greek word for “everything” and the English word for shades of color. Pan-tone. Every color.

Viva Magenta and Happy New Year!

“There’s a reason we don’t see the world in black and white.” – Celerie Kemble