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Purple reigns in 2018: how Pantone picks their colour of the year

18 February 2018 - 00:00 By The Telegraph
Homeware in shades of purple is tipped to trend in 2018.
Homeware in shades of purple is tipped to trend in 2018.
Image: 123RF/tannjuska

When Pantone reveals its annual "colour of the year" prediction, the design world takes note. Every December for 18 years the Pantone Color Institute has forecast the shade it believes will be favoured across fashion, interiors and design over the next 12 months. And each year that prediction tends to come true.

 Pantone announced its colour for 2018 was ultra violet, known as Pantone 18-3838 — a rich, blue-toned purple that it describes as "a spiritual, cosmic hue" and "a dramatically provocative and thoughtful shade".

So far, it has divided opinion - and it can be a tricky tone to get right in terms of interior design. But you are likely to see a lot more of it in coming months. Previous predictions have included 2016's rose quartz, which quickly morphed into millennial pink and continues to dominate homeware collections, and last year's greenery, which has similarly taken root. So how did Pantone's experts conclude that ultra violet sums up the cultural mood of 2018, and what makes it right for now?

Pantone's executive director, Leatrice Eiseman, claims that its colour of the year is usually already 'out there' — even if people aren't quite aware of it yet

The institute's influence is such that just by stating a colour is "on trend" it can become so, but its executive director, Leatrice Eiseman, claims that its colour of the year is usually already "out there" - even if people aren't quite aware of it yet.

"We look at a lot of leading indicators, such as art, fashion, entertainment and technology," she explains. "We go through the fashion collections to see how many times a particular colour is on the agenda, consider the artists and exhibitions that are gaining attention, even look at food and drink trends".

But the largest indicator is "the mood of the people": "There is a magical element that colour represents to people, whether or not they realise it," says Eiseman. "Because we're colourists, we see the clues. Then we get the conversation going, and start to open people's consciousness to the colour."

In the case of ultra violet, current "it" foods, such as purple-tinged asparagus, cabbages and berries have, apparently, been influential. Eiseman also links it to our growing appreciation of mindfulness, now crossing over into interiors with its connection to meditation practices that offer a refuge from an over-stimulated world.

"This blue-based tone takes awareness to a higher level," she says, "from exploring new technologies to artistic expression and spiritual reflection. "Purple also has a counter-cultural symbolism which, Eiseman believes, chimes with the current global frame of mind.

"We are living in a time that requires inventiveness and imagination," she says. "There's a creativity attached to this colour; people who love it are generally more creative themselves. It is thoughtful, but at the same time it's provocative, because it's made up of two diametrically opposed colours - blue and red. Blue, which is the more dominant colour in Ultra Violet, is the more meditative; yet there is also an undertone of red, which brings excitement and drama. That's an interesting dichotomy.

Gonsenhausers Reloaded in purple and blue, from R4,800.
Gonsenhausers Reloaded in purple and blue, from R4,800.
Image: Supplied
Grand Piano Sofa, POA, unitedfabrics.com.
Grand Piano Sofa, POA, unitedfabrics.com.
Image: Supplied
Purple velvet cushion cover R129, hm.com.
Purple velvet cushion cover R129, hm.com.
Image: Supplied

Writer Kassia St Clair, whose book The Secret Lives of Colour looks at the stories behind different hues, points out that true ultra violet "is not a colour, but a kind of electromagnetic radiation beyond the visible spectrum". But she notes purple's long-time association with artistic visionaries. "Prince springs to mind," she says, "and the Impressionists, who loved the colour so much that they were accused by early critics of suffering from 'violettamania'."

Modern violettamaniacs keen to bring the colour into their homes can take inspiration from interior designer Shalini Misra. She advises embracing the drama, and mixing in different textures and finishes to keep the look fresh.

"The key with a vibrant shade like this is not to be afraid to experiment," she says.


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