Pantone’s Color of the Year, 2013, is Emerald – But How ‘Green’ is That?

Pantone's Color of the Year, 2013, is Emerald

Yesterday, Pantone announced their selection for color of the year, 2013: Pantone 17-5641 Emerald, a lively, radiant, lush green.

While 2012’s Color of the Year, Pantone 17-1463 Tangerine Tango, was a spirited, reddish orange that provided an energy boost to recharge and move forward, the vivid, verdant Emerald green, “enhances our sense of well-being further by inspiring insight, as well as promoting balance and harmony.”

Most often associated with brilliant, precious gemstones, the perception of Emerald is sophisticated and luxurious. Since antiquity, this luminous, magnificent hue has been the color of beauty and new life in many cultures and religions. It’s also the color of growth, renewal and prosperity – no other color conveys regeneration more than green. For centuries, many countries have chosen green to represent healing and unity.

“Green is the most abundant hue in nature – the human eye sees more green than any other color in the spectrum,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “As it has throughout history, multifaceted Emerald continues to sparkle and fascinate. Symbolically, Emerald brings a sense of clarity, renewal and rejuvenation, which is so important in today’s complex world. This powerful and universally appealing tone translates easily to both fashion and home interiors.”

Some of Pantone's previous 'Colors of the Year'.

Some of Pantone’s previous ‘Colors of the Year’.

According to Pantone, The Color of the Year selection is a very thoughtful process. To arrive at the selection, their color trends experts comb the world looking for influences, which can include anything from entertainment, films and art to popular travel destinations, technology and sports events.

Goodlifer: Pantone's Color of the Year, 2013, is Emerald

For over a decade, the Color of the Year has influenced product development and purchasing in multiple industries, including fashion, home and industrial design, as well as product packaging and graphic design. Lately, however, the company has become quite savvy about capitalizing on their brand by creating a product line of accessories under the label Pantone Universe, and doing integrated campaigns with brands like Sephora, which develops a collection of beauty products based on the year’s color (I can’t wait to see the green lipstick).

Goodlifer: Pantone's Color of the Year, 2013, is Emerald

I can understand that designers embrace these products, because Pantone is a tool of the trade. However, I can’t help but feel that all this compromises the integrity of the brand, still the world’s foremost authority on color. Maybe I would feel better about it if I knew there was some sort of effort put into making these products as consciously as possible.

Goodlifer: Pantone's Color of the Year, 2013, is Emerald

As of this writing, there is nothing on Pantone’s site about sustainability or social responsibility. For a company of that size to not have any kind of outward-facing strategy around these important issues is not OK today. Designers are embracing principles of sustainability and making choices (in their personal and professional lives) that reflect that. Maybe it’s time for Pantone to start doing what they do best: inspire. Except this time, inspire themselves to be a better company.

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
1 comment on this postSubmit yours
  1. I don’t know he specifics but there was a report that came out earlier this year about how green inks are some of the most difficult to make and are often te most toxic. More than ironic its also sad. Would be great if Pantone partnered with ink/dye makers to promote more earth friendly processes for making beautiful color.

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