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The ‘it’ color for 2020? Pantone’s Classic Blue

A blue backdrop with the words “Color of the Year 2020 PANTONE” in a square and “Classic Blue 19-4052" outside.
Pantone reveals its Color of the Year for 2020: Classic Blue.
(Pantone)

It’s December, which means it’s time for year-end lists, holiday gift-guides and the annual Pantone Color of the Year announcement.

In recent years, the Color Institute has selected shades based on their uplifting and “life-affirming” qualities. Last year’s nature-inspired Living Coral was chosen for its “energizing and nourishing” elements. The previous year, Ultra Violet was recommended for “what is possible and continues to inspire the desire to pursue a world beyond our own.”

But in a global environment concerned with impeachment hearings, homelessness and climate change, can Pantone offer reassurance in what looks to be a contentious election year?

Pantone thinks so. On Wednesday, Classic Blue was announced as the Color of the Year for 2020. (If you are one of Pantone’s 2.2 million Instagram followers, you may not be surprised, given the ocean and sky teasers that were posted to the account prior to the announcement).

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In a news release, the new color, which is darker than aquamarine and lighter than navy, is described as “dependable” and “non-aggressive.”

From a practical standpoint, the color forecast means you’ll be seeing this blueberry blue everywhere in 2020. Pantone’s announcement is the ultimate influencer as it will dictate blue trends in home decor, fashion, beauty — even food — in 2020.

“We are living in a time that requires trust and faith,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “Imbued with a deep resonance, PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue provides an anchoring foundation. A boundless blue evocative of the vast and infinite evening sky, PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue encourages us to look beyond the obvious to expand our thinking; challenging us to think more deeply, increase our perspective and open the flow of communication.”

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“Everybody’s comfortable with blue,” added Pantone Vice President Laurie Pressman in an interview with the Associated Press. “We know it. We like it.”

Well, not everyone.

“I like blue, and classic blue is certainly an attractive color,” said Los Angeles designer Justina Blakeney. “But it’s kind of like having scrambled eggs for breakfast. I’m not excited, stimulated or inspired.”

Some designers viewed the color choice as a response to next year’s presidential election. “The Classic Blue represents confidence and calm in the midst of a stormy year ahead with the election and political, economic, and environmental turmoil in the world at large,” said Angie Myung, co-founder of Poketo. “The color also represents staying true to who we are.”

Erica Islas, interior designer for Lamps Plus, thinks the timeless color is a return to basics.

“This shade of blue reminds me of the color of the sky at a certain late hour and the still ocean, both of which are refreshing and serene,” she said. “It tends to work extremely well in all areas of the home including kitchens, bathrooms, living rooms, kid spaces, bedrooms, offices — you can’t go wrong with it. The color is easy to work with in interiors and pairs well with a variety of colors, especially white, gray, taupe, yellow and greens. Designers have been using this color for decades so while we already know it’s a timeless color, it’s refreshing to see the color take the center stage. We’re going to be using it for many years to come.”

Adds Los Angeles interior designer Linda Hayslett: “This blue is great because if used as a solid color, it can add some punch in a modern space. It can also make a sofa stand out or be a strong pop on a wall with paint or tile for a contemporary look. But it can also be used traditionally in looks such as for ticking in fabrics to get a Hamptons vibe or French Country feel. Classic blue is everywhere, even in chinoiserie and toile. I would even use it for some cool wainscoting.”

For the first time, Pantone has teamed up with partners Tealeaves, Firmenich and Audio UX, among others, to offer a multi-sensory experience. Now, consumers can taste, hear and smell the Color of the Year courtesy of bespoke tea, perfume and sounds that “harmonize the color, aroma, and taste of Pantone 19-4052 Classic Blue.”

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“The Pantone Color of the Year highlights the relationship between trends in color and what is taking place in our global culture at a moment in time, a color that reflects what individuals feel they need that color can hope to answer,” added Pressman. “As we all head into a new era, we wanted to challenge ourselves to find inspiration from new sources.”


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