In 1999, the Pantone Color Institute selected the first “Color of the Year.” It was Cerulean, a color that got its English name way back in 1590. Every year since 1999, Pantone and paint companies have chosen colors to represent trends. What is the color for 2020?
Pantone announced its 2020 palette for Spring and Summer back in September of 2019. Their goal is for the colors to blend heritage and tradition with a “colorful youthful update.” Shades include 18-1662 Flame Scarlet, 19-0323 Chive, and 19-4052 Classic Blue. Classic Blue ended up becoming the color for 2020. This means we enter a new decade with a hue not too different from Cerulean over 20 years ago!
Behr went to nature for its colors for 2020. The company lists earth, sky, water, and plant life as inspiration. They also mention “seasonal changes and world exploration” on their site. The palette includes Cider Spice, a warm earthy shade, as well as Dusty Lilac, Rumba Orange, and Graphic Charcoal. The color of the year: Back To Nature. It’s a neutral gray-green shade that Behr describes as “calm, gracious, and balanced.”
Benjamin Moore went all out for their colors, choosing ten. The company takes a year to choose the colors, paying attention to design, fashion, art, the environment, and cultural influences. At first glance, the palette pops with shades of blue. There’s the stormy-gray Buxton Blue, the light and bright Windmill Wings, and rich Blue Danube. It’s not all blue, though. There’s also Golden Straw, which is a buttery, sunny shade. The color of the year, First Light, is described as “soft” and “rosy.” Check it out here.
Minnesota-based paint company Valspar didn’t want to settle on only one color for 2020. They chose 12 back in October and they’re all nature-inspired. They include earthy Canyon Earth, warm neutral Desert Fortress, and calming Utterly Blue. Valspar has been around for 200 years, so they know color. Their parent company is Sherwin-Williams.
Like Pantone, Sherwin-Williams chose a blue for their color for 2020. Naval SW 6244 is all about creating a “calm and grounding environment infused with quiet confidence.” That’s a lot ask from a color. Sherwin-Williams explains that Naval also pays respect to Art Deco, bridging the past and the future. Like other companies, Sherwin-Williams also credits nature as an inspiration.
The power of color
Why should we care about these colors? Color has a powerful effect on human psychology. It can provoke feelings like peace, anger, and happiness. Think about our societies today and the prevalence of anxiety and depression. Even with technology, people feel disconnected from each other, themselves, and nature. It makes sense that nature-inspired shades like blue were chosen as the color for 2020. As a community, people are leaning into older, slower ways of living. What’s older and slower than an ocean, mountain, or forest? People want to feel grounded and connected. That translates into the colors we use, whether it’s in art, fashion, or paint.
How did Pantone become so influential as a color authority? It has a lot to do with its unique matching system and the Color Institute.