TRENDS: The world’s most influential colour institute, Pantone, announced its 2020 ‘Colour of the Year’ last week – and it has proved to be a slightly controversial choice within the design community.

The colour is Pantone 19-4052 Classic Blue, a colour the trend forecasters describe as:

“instilling calm, confidence and connection. This enduring blue hue highlights our desire for a dependable and stable foundation on which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era.”

Some design mavens have accused Pantone of missing the mark. Michelle Ogundehin, former Editor of Elle Decoration UK, says that they are “playing it safe” after the debacle of 2019’s Colour of the Year – ‘Living Coral’.

Pantone were heavily criticised for the latter as being a tone-deaf choice, considering that the peachy shade is meant to mimic the colour of a perilously endangered species.

Most of the reservation around 2020’s ‘Classic Blue’ is that Pantone have deliberately picked a completely anodyne colour to avoid repeating this mistake. Ogundehin’s opinion piece on Dezeen comments that Pantone couldn’t afford to make another ‘politically insensitive misstep’.

As she points out, most other forecasting agencies and designers have been talking about green as the major colour for next year. Dulux and Behr paints have both selected shades of green. Plus, it was a highlight in UK Trend Futurists Scarlet Opus’ Macro Trends Forecast at Decor + Design in Melbourne this year.

A Solid Foundation

Image: Blue sea by lujop on Deviant Art

Still, Classic Blue has its charms, as well as supporters. Pantone have positioned it as an ‘honest’ colour that offers a sense of protection. As technology and change advances at an ever-increasing pace, Classic Blue provides a relaxed antidote. It also symbolises the return of another day; the eternal promise of continuity, of peace.

Blue is also fundamentally abstract. Greg Rowland, a noted semiotician, remarks

“blue is something that is extremely common if we look up but extremely rare if we look elsewhere, one of the reasons why blue eyes are valorised in Western culture.”

Whereas green is reflected all around us in trees and pot plants and lawns, blue – not so much. In fact, of the 280,000 flowering plant varieties on earth, only 10% are blue. In fact even they don’t contain any true blue pigment at all. They are in fact made up of permutations of violet or purple.

For us at Decor + Design, the beauty of Classic Blue is that it represents the vast promise of the sky and ocean when they are calm. It’s an anchor in times of turbulence, a reminder that one day the world may come to a place of agreement and flow together, and that – like the mysteries of the deep blue sea – there is still much we still don’t know.

No matter how many definitive opinions there are on the internet.

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