Pantone Picks Color of the Year -- Spoiler Alert: There's More Than One

For the First Time, Color Company Picks Two Shades for the Prestigious Title

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Sephora partners with Pantone on a Color of the Year collection.
Sephora partners with Pantone on a Color of the Year collection. Credit: Sephora
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The results are in and they are not typical. For the first time, color company Pantone has selected two shades -- the periwinkle-hued Serenity and the pink Rose Quartz -- as its Color of the Year for 2016. Since its launch in 2000, the Color of the Year has evolved beyond a marketing initiative into a significant cultural and media event for both consumers and brands such as Sephora and KitchenAid.

"The complexity of the logic behind Color of the Year is greater than interior design or fashion -- it's a forecast, a reflection of what's happening in the world," explained Ron Potesky, senior VP and GM at Carlstadt, N.J.-based Pantone. "These colors were seen together almost like two sides of a coin -- they were showing up in many different places together."

While Pantone works with hundreds of firms each year on a consulting and licensing basis, it's the Color of the Year that has really catapulted the company into the pop-culture spotlight and created a money-making business for brands.

This year's colors, pastel shades, were chosen by Pantone's 20-person Color Institute for their calming effect in an age of technological overstimulation. As a plus, the hues also offer a gender blurring that could be ripped from the headlines of current events, though Laurie Pressman, VP of the Color Institute, said such a take was more of a serendipitous bonus and less of a reason.

"Color is a language and two colors was unusual but made sense," she explained. "Some might say this is marketing but for us, it's coming from a purist view. We're not sitting here wondering how the public will react and if it will sell products."

Pantone, which X-Rite Inc., a color software company, bought for $180 million eight years ago, has worked with Manhattan-based advertising agency Sub Rosa since 2013 to market the year's color. The Manhattan-based firm created a set of images depicting a model wearing a wrap shawl of blue and pink ombre set on a variety of backdrops including a serene beach.