Pantone's Color of the Year 'Living Coral' might be an ironic nod to climate change

'Life-affirming' choice also antidote to soulless tech-driven age

Published On
Dec 06, 2018

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Pantone's color of the year is a pinkish orange (or maybe it's an orange-y pink?). Officially, it's called "living coral," and Pantone describes it as "animating and life-affirming." The trend forecasters at Pantone, who have been announcing a zeitgeist-y color of the year for 20 years, apparently see the vibrancy of coral as an antidote to the soulless tech age. "In reaction to the onslaught of digital technology and social media increasingly embedding into daily life, we are seeking authentic and immersive experiences that enable connection and intimacy," Pantone says in its announcement.

The company also notes that the color "embraces us with warmth and nourishment to provide comfort and buoyancy in our continually shifting environment." That nod to nature seems to suggest that the company's choice may be a sly comment on the state of our climate today. 

As NPR's Colin Dwyer notes,  "When it comes to most headlines these days, the word 'coral' doesn't often get the opportunity to be paired with 'living.' It's 'dying; that gets that distinction more often than not, as report after report after report after report--and so on--reveal the alarming extent to which human actions have played a role in bleaching and killing coral reefs around the world. In this respect, a dark irony lurks in the fact that Pantone announced its honors for living coral on the same day climate scientists revealed that global carbon emissions are climbing, despite many countries' ambitious pledges to rein them in."