Close your eyes and think about the year ahead. What colors do you see? Maybe it’s sea blue for the beach vacation you’re hoping to have. Or a hazy red, the color you plan to dye your hair. More likely, it’s the color of your computer screen glare, which you’ve been staring at for the past five hours.
The Pantone Color Institute, the forecasting wing of professional color authority Pantone, is charged with analyzing all these colors and narrowing them down to a single color of the year. The company declared 2022 the year of “Very Peri”, a “dynamic periwinkle blue hue with a vivifying violet red undertone.” It’s the first time Pantone has created a brand new color for color of the year.
“I think people have the idea that we sit in this room once a year around a big table in this beautiful building,” said Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute and color psychologist. “It doesn’t quite work like that. This is a global team of color futurists.”
Very-Peri represents a culture undergoing “transformation,” Pressman said. We’re still reeling from a never-ending pandemic and reckoning with the ways our lives have permanently changed. Particularly, our reliance on digital tools for almost every aspect of life: work, entertainment, retail, communication. Even conversations about a future embodied metaverse are wrapped into this dynamic periwinkle, Pressman said. The color is a blend of blue and red, similar to our blurring physical and digital worlds.
“We’re seeing designers that didn’t have materials because everything was cut off because of the supply chain,” Pressman said. “They’re living in this dynamic virtual world creating all these new color possibilities."
Global team of color futurists aside, the Pantone announcement is, in part, designed to spur sales of clothes, make-up, furniture and (checks notes) Microsoft Teams backgrounds?
That’s right. This year Pantone's focus on technology inspired a partnership with Microsoft, which has introduced Teams backgrounds, Windows wallpapers, a new Edge theme and a PowerPoint template laced with Very Peri. “Here you have a company that’s not only a leader in developing computer software systems and applications, but somebody who can represent our joint vision to help bridge this gap between the physical and digital world,” Pressman said.
Very Peri is meant to have an “empowering effect” from its “dependable” blue and “joyous” red undertones, according to Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute and a color psychologist. Image: Pantone
Pantone hopes to see Very Peri embedded throughout the internet — where color can hugely impact one’s experience. It’s easy for tech companies to repeatedly use the same illustrations and colors, leaning toward familiarity and ambiguity. Periwinkle may help bring Microsoft out of a color rut. Pantone partnered with Microsoft because of the company’s large presence in our digital lives, particularly for those working in corporate America. Microsoft’s recognition of Very Peri could reach millions, Pressman said. “We thought this was a great way to embed the power of color in design, because look at who they’re touching,” Pressman said.
Color of the year fits into other ongoing forecasting projects from Pantone, like its "Colour Planner" that puts together palettes biannually. Pressman said the team’s conversations are often frank and profound, taking stock of what life looks like across the globe and how that translates into color. Do our lives make us gravitate toward calming pastels, or flashy pinks? “What's taking place in the culture, and then how does that get expressed into the language of color?” Pressman said. The technical creation of the color requires a lot of back-and-forth between teams and questions about vibrancy or whether a color has enough red.
Pressman emphasized that color always expresses a mood. Very Peri is meant to have an “empowering effect” from its “dependable” blue and “joyous” red undertones. The company regularly conducts consumer color studies, asking participants to look at a color and respond with the first phrase that comes to mind. This is how Pantone verbalizes colors, and tracks our evolving relationships to them. “Color transcends language,” Pressman said. “We can all talk color.”