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What is a 'Colour of the Year' and Why Should We Care? -
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What is a ‘Colour of the Year’ and Why Should We Care?

What is a Colour of the Year? Who is Pantone and why do we care?

Pantone Color Palette Tilt Shift Detail Desktop Wallpaper

Pantone began as a commercial printing company in the 1950s. Their color-matching system for the print and design industry has become the global standard. They have further cemented their influence by introducing the ‘Colour of the Year’ every year since 2000.

pantone colors

marsala pantone

We care because Pantone has a big influence on our life since their choice for Colour of the Year informs designers in graphic design, packaging, branding, fashion and interior design.

large marsala with fashion

We will often remember important times in our lives by the colors associated with them. We can pinpoint the year certain furniture was produced, or a wall was painted, or an outfit was wornsolely by its colour, Remember those harvest gold and avocado appliances and accessories, from the 70s? Pink and grey was considered a sophisticated color combination in the 80s.

70s appliances

“Twice a year the company hosts, in a European capital, a secret meeting of representatives from various nations’ color standards groups. After two days of presentations and debate, they choose a color for the following year. The results of the meeting are published in Pantone View ($750), which fashion designers, florists, and many other consumer-oriented companies purchase to help guide their designs and planning for future products.” (Wikipedia)

marsala fashion

This year’s colour is Marsala. Pantone officials say the colour is already big in fashion and that it goes well with warmer taupes and grays, and umber, golden yellow and turquoise.

modern marsalamodern 2

So what do colour experts think of Marsala?

The National Post’s experts described the colour, Marsala, as “a ‘tired’ burgundy experts already hate” and

“It’s nice, but it surprises me,” says colour consultant Jean Molesworth Kee, owner of the Painted Room in Alexandria, Va. “We have been veering from red or burgundy wall colour now for years. This has a dusky, earthy quality.” Kee says she could see Marsala used in “an ethnic bohemian place.” She added, “It’s muted and it reminds me of Morocco or of faded old Oriental rugs. It would go nicely with warm, sandy colours and browns.” (National Post)


I remember specifying colours similar to Marsala, in the early 90s. The colour has a definite retro, ‘I’ve seen this before’ feel. Initially, I was disappointed with the choice because it felt old fashioned to me, but I must admit I am warming to it. Especially after looking at how its being used by the various design communities.


To me the very fact that there is resistance to this colour suggests that the choice is surprising and that, in itself, is intriguing.  After all, if it fit in too comfortably with our existing palette it would hardly be new.

What do you think of Marsala? We’d love to hear from you!

really large marsala

Designers Collective will be offering a Colour Workshop this spring. Check out our workshop offerings.

Many of these images are from Pinterest. Please let us know if you would like us to remove them or if you would like proper credit. Thank you for letting us use them.



  • WendysHat
    January 23, 2015 at 12:07 am

    I love color of the year because it gives you something to focus on but I find it funny that everyone seems to have their own colors. I’ve seen 3 this year and love them all!

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