There are fewer things more dependable in the design world than Pantone presenting its Colour of the Year. Annually since 2000, this self-proclaimed colour authority has selected year-defining shades that inform decisions in the food, cars, cosmetics, clothes and housewares industries.
To the outsider, our brain starts tracking the colour du jour more frequently the moment it is announced and suddenly, as if by magic, the colour is omnipresent. But magic it is not; what we experience is the result of years long research into changing socio-political, even economic and ecological climates.
Marketing gimmick aside, there is no denying that in recent years, Pantone’s choice has taken on a more philosophical hue. Last year a ‘life-affirming’ shade of green delivered on its promise to revive, restore and renew. In 2016, a pairing of rose quartz and serene blue offered an antidote to stress, while the pink palette of this dual shade struck out against stereotyping and conformity.
This year, a dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade, Pantone 18-3838 Ultra Violet speaks to the time. “We are living in a time that requires inventiveness and imagination,” said Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Colour Institute. “It is this kind of creative inspiration that is indigenous to the colour of 2018.” Simply explained, ultra violet is a vibrant, blue-based purple.
Prince and Purple Rain aside, pop culture’s biggest purple moment came unexpectedly on November 9, 2016. Conceding to Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton wore purple lapels. Purple, on that occasion spoke of Bipartism (in the American context anyway, symbolising a harmonious partnership between the red Republicans and blue Democrats); historically it is a symbol of nobility and power.
According to a 2015 report, in ancient times, coveted purple dye was made from the mucus of sea snails in the Phoenician city of Tyre. This explains its rarity, and its association with wealth and royalty. It is rumoured that in the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I of England only allowed close relatives of the royal family to wear purple. In 1856, the colour became more accessible when a British chemist named William Henry Perkin patented a process for synthetic purple, which he achieved as he was trying to concoct a treatment for malaria.
In her 1982 epistolary novel The Colour Purple, author Alice Walker presented the colour as an example of God’s creation and a thriving emotional state. Ultra violet is also a hue preferred in the practice of mindfulness. Many schools of creative meditation use the hue to connect with higher universal energies and the subconscious potential.
Purple also features heavily in the context of human rights. It has long been an ally of the LGBTQ communities. In a post #MeToo world, its history within the American National Women’s Party bears new resonance. Purple, they noted in a 1913 issue of the Suffragist, as the colour of “loyalty, constancy to purpose, and unswerving steadfastness to a cause”. As they marched in purple robes to rally support for women’s rights, this vivid colour became an undeniable sign of the changing times.
Through its balance between opposites, Purple has inspired for centuries. Ultra violet heightens that sense of spirituality and mysticism; electrifying a new generation to come together in the face of our differences.
By its scientific nature, ultra violet light expose things you wouldn’t usually be able to see under normal light. And that is exactly what we need right now — a new vision and an inspired way of thinking. So let the Colour of 2018 enthuse you, not only in your decorating and fashion choices, but in the way you shine the light on what’s been kept hidden, make way for healing and embrace your truest potential.
If that is too much to ask for from the premise of a design page, the new KitchenAid, in purple, is only Dh3,150.