The wait is over for color addicts and designers of all stripes - Pantone has announced it's color of the year for 2018. The crowning of the bold purple hue "Ultra Violet" will no doubt set off a frenzied race to incorporate the color into everything from supermarket packaging to homewares to wedding decorations.

But it's not just those in the business of color who were intrigued by Pantone's choice this year. As they do every year, commentators have also been busy analyzing the selected hue for deeper cultural meaning. As home design Apartment Therapy points out, they haven't had to dig very far to come up with at least one intriguing possibility.

What is purple, after all, but red and blue mixed together? In our current climate of incredible political polarization might there be a message there? 

Red + Blue = Purple

Last year's shade was a soothing leafy color dubbed "Greenery." At the time, Pantone noted the shade signified "renewal." Twelve months on and no green shoots of greater calm and peace are apparent in the world (to my eye at least). So perhaps Pantone is getting a little more explicit.

This year, when they announced their pick of Ultra Violet, they lauded the color's ability to take "two shades that are seemingly diametrically opposed--blue and red-- and [bring] them together to create something new."

Do warring shades of red and blue remind you of anything? If you said a CNN election night map, you weren't the only one to put two and two together.

"The fire and the water--maybe we can come to a common ground. That there's hope as opposed to the opposite clashing," interior designer Martin Kesselman says, analyzing Ultra Violet in the Apartment Therapy post..

"I do think it speaks to the state of the country and the world," he continues, both in its blending of loud opposing colors into a beautiful third, but also in its boldness. "People are voicing their opinions, and I think that design reflects that as well. They are making larger statements not only to the public and through social [media], but also in their design and in their home," he adds.

So in this one designer's mind at least, in-your-face purple isn't just a prayer for some sort of coming together of the opposing political camps much of the country has parked themselves in, but also a celebration of boldness, in design but also in speech. It may even be a sly way of honoring the recent resurgence of protest and the silence shattering #MeToo campaign against sexual harassment.

Is all this reading a little too much into what is really just an annual excuse for designers to play with (and sell) a new color trend? Some will argue yes, but other color obsessives like Kasselman will see far more in Pantone's selection of Ultra Violet. You be the judge.

Do you think there is a hidden political message in Pantone's pick? Or is it just another excuse to sell throw pillows and T-shirts?

Published on: Dec 8, 2017
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