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Emily Henderson

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by Emily Henderson
Pantone color of the year 2020
Styled by Bree Leech | Photo by Lisa Cohen | via The Design Files

Every year, the world awaits the Pantone “color of the year” announcement, despite it actually affecting zero percent of our lives. Ever since I’ve been in design, I’ve scratched my head not knowing WHY they chose what they did and rarely thinking it will work in interiors. BUT like most things controversial, I enjoy the discourse around it. As a recap, here are the colors of the last 10 years.

Pantone color of the year 2020
Image via brandchannel

If you are thinking “I don’t get it,” you aren’t alone. Those particular tones are shocking and random, but if they chose something so on the nose (millennial pink 3 years ago, dark green last year, etc) we’d all probably roll our collective eyes.

All of the controversies aside, our burning question is: HOW do they choose the color of the year??

Pantone color of the year 2020
Image via Forbes

Well, I did what any private investigator would do and Googled that question, and read exactly one article from the Miami Herald on it, here. The gist is that it’s a general trend for-casting, zeitgeist thing that doesn’t necessarily have to do with interiors specifically, but more an answer to what’s happening in the world (design-wise but also life-wise).

For “Classic Blue,” this year’s color, here is the reason they chose it:

“The Pantone Color Institute said it recognized similar feelings of instability gripping the world today, from the United States to the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Syria and across the globe. It settled on a shade that offers the reassurance, confidence and connection that people may be searching for in an uncertain global milieu.”

We love assigning feelings to colors for sure, and nobody can attest to the reassurance, confidence and serenity that blue brings to my house and life more than me… Exhibit A:

Pantone color of the year 2020
Photo by Ryan Liebe | From: Our Updated Living Room

So we thought we’d poll the designers and editors in the EHD office, and see how we feel about “Classic Blue” having its year in the spotlight.

Emily (me): “I usually can’t wait to kind of be shocked by the color, and my reaction has historically not been ‘oh that makes sense.’ I think that’s because traditionally, these colors don’t translate as well into designing the home as they do into art and fashion. For things, spaces and mediums that are more temporary, risk is more welcome and thus they shift more often. Sure, I like tones of purple a lot right now in the home, but not Ultraviolet (last year’s color of the year). And yes, we are VERY into green over here, but not necessarily Greenery (2017 color of the year). They don’t seem as pigmented and full of nuance as the colors that we usually like.

But Classic Blue, while perhaps a bit more primary than I usually opt for, is indeed a color that we can use, or at least a very close shade. I’m not opposed to cobalt right now and shove that shade a bit darker and it’s a great navy that I love. All in all, I’m not NOT into it. I’m pleasantly surprised that I do indeed like it and will try to experiment with it this year. Below, for example, I think it is used well.”

Julie: “Blue has and always will be a crowd-pleaser and while this particular shade of blue is much brighter I am a fan of it in small doses for interiors. I can’t say for sure that I would put it on my body but I thought the same of Ultra Violet last year and then the other day I caught myself almost ‘adding to cart’ &Other Stories new color block sweater…so only time will tell.”

Velinda: “Color of the year, brought to you by Papa Smurf.”

Pantone color of the year 2020
Design by Laura Fulmine | Photo by Michael Sinclain and The Modern House | via The Nord Room

Arlyn: “Okay, while a far cry from International Klein Blue, i.e. my favorite color on earth, it’s closer, and that makes me happy. Blue is always ‘safe’ especially this particular shade so I agree with Emily that I wish it were a bit more daring in terms of using it in design. I get the more “worldly” zeitgeist leanings of the COTY choice, too, and I mean, I guess I get it.”

Jess: “I’m pretty underwhelmed. It’s not bad but I’m bored. But then again almost anything can be cool if it’s in the hands of the right designer. I prefer the electricity of say a cobalt which is super close to Classic Blue but better and cooler. Maybe next year, Pantone.”

Ryann: “I might be the only person who is neither shocked or disappointed with Pantone’s decision to declare Classic Blue the reigning color in the year 2020. Maybe this is because historically I have never paid attention to Pantone’s color of the year so my expectations were extremely low. Look, I like blue and I especially like a bold color moment in the home (see photo below) and in fashion, it can be really fun and exciting to see bright colors played around with. I am not running out and painting my walls Classic Blue but the color does make me happy and I wouldn’t object to a classic blue lamp or art piece in my home. I am just happy it’s not maroon or magenta because those are the two worst colors (sorry I don’t make the rules).”

Pantone color of the year 2020
Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: Arlyn’s Bright & Happy Rental Living Room Makeover

Despite some of our feelings about this year’s chosen hue, if you brighten it and put it in a luxe fabric like Arlyn did in her living room Makeover Takeover then I think everyone can get on serious board. As Arlyn beautifully put it in a Slack message this morning, “Blue can both be safe and bold.”

Okay now it’s your turn. How do you all feel about Classic Blue reigning in this new decade? Are you someone who lives by the Pantone rule or are you as underwhelmed as most of the staff? Let’s chat folks.

  1. I do love classic blue. I really do. But…..there have been so many decor blogs and magazines featuring the coastal look in blue, gray and white. I’m tired of it.

    1. Yes! It doesn’t feel special or particularly relevant to 2020. We’ve seen it.

  2. Not the worst in terms of usability for interiors/fashion/life but it honestly reminds me of the outside of an Ikea when it’s used too liberally and I get distracted

    1. HA! The outside of an IKEA. I mean, I think that color could be GOOD but used in a super bold way…and not paired with yellow for obvious reasons. ha

  3. I think they’re playing it safe after the 2019 COTY – Living Coral!

  4. When I first saw it, Microsoft Windows came to mind, then the windows chime went off in mind head. Then I fell asleep.

    Meh.

  5. Hmmm, I like blue but when they say it echoes the state of the world, I’m feeling like Pantone is trying to get political on us and should be more of an escape/imaginative arena.

    1. Democratic blue. My thoughts exactly.

  6. I’m so excited that I actually like the color this year!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

  7. Pantone picks the so-called “Color of the Year” for PR purposes – the more controversy, the more publicity for them. So I never like their picks because they are just too “in your face,” in order to grab that publicity.

    I love blues, but not this one.

  8. Belinda is spot on. My first thought was Smurf, too.

  9. Don’t like the classic blue. Reminds me of preschool primary colors. I think these Pantone colors of the year are a bit of a joke. Who uses them? I can see using deeper, or brighter, or more muted shades of the colors of the year but, really, who uses them? I wish they would make their choices based on research of what is trending in design right now.

    1. It’s a beautiful lapis blue. I love it!

  10. I think thos color makes sense with the 80s & 90s comeback. Honestly I have been unimpressed with color predictions as of late (Benjamin Moore’s COTY felt completely unoriginal). I think this makes more sense than that, but not something I can see being used in decor for most people. Why so many bright and harsh colors? I see so much trending towards calm and soft. Maybe next year, but probably not.

  11. My issue with color trend forecasting is that it seems to lead to everything looking the same. Vases, toasters, pillows, etc will be seen in this color all year. Rather than identifying one color of the year, I think it would be more interesting and innovative to identify a color combination that has been rethought/updated/newly considered. For example, the 2020 color is meant to symbolize “reassurance, confidence, and connection” on a global scale, so why not find a triad color scheme that reflects that sentiment in a more compelling way. Singular colors are so subjective but color combinations tell more of a story, have more of a point of view. Anyway, that said, I like the 2020 color as a bold accent like a vase, lamp or accent table – and I think it would be more modern when used as a single item in a room, as opposed to matching pillows and other housewares sprinkled around the room.

    1. Two weeks ago I bought a pull over shirt and stocking cap in the same blue. I guess I am now on trend for 2020?

  12. I love it for fashion! It looks good with most skin and hair colors.

    Classic Blue has always been my “power” color. I’ve worn it for several successful job interviews and feel like it is hard to say “no” to me when I wear it.

  13. I think it is high time for a tsunami of blue across our fair land. Thank you for your concurrence Pantone.

  14. I’m not really feeling this shade of blue. It’s too saturated and “simple” for my taste, but then again I prefer a more muted palette. Of all the past Pantone colours of the year, I think Marsala is my favourite and one that I would use in my home.

  15. I like the blue color and I suggest let’s try the tri-color rug in your room

  16. Gabrielle Union once asked in a film — “I know that you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed…but can you ever be just ‘whelmed?'”

    When it comes to Pantone’s Color of the Year, I can confidently answer this question in the affirmative. Yes, Gabrielle, you can. I’m whelmed every year.

  17. I think it’s safe and more political and environmental then about the actual shade. Every year it feels as though the shade should be more mature and less pigmented. And did anyone catch that KitchenAid announced their color of the year as Bird of Paradise in 2018, which is basically Living Coral but a year ahead. Maybe time to start watching them more.
    https://www.elledecor.com/design-decorate/trends/g22357364/kitchenaid-color-year-2018-birds-of-paradise/

  18. I hope blue is the color of the year in 2020, especially in November!

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