Skip to navigationSkip to content

Pantone’s new colors of the year are a nod to gender equality

  • Anne Quito
By Anne Quito

Design and architecture reporter

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Get ready to be surrounded by a kaleidoscope of pastel hues. In an unexpected turn, Pantone, the world’s authority on color, has declared not one, but two “Colors of the Year” for 2016: A soft pink called Rose Quartz (Pantone 13-1520) and a muted blue called Serenity (Pantone 15-3919).

Double standards.

The color standards company made its much-anticipated announcement today, Dec. 3. Its brand marketing efforts are already in gear—a winning strategy that has helped the 53-year old company secure its place in pop culture and in business. Companies like Sephora (get ready for pastel blue lipstick), Kitchen Aid and Thomas Pink (naturally) have already unveiled special Rose Quartz-Serenity products.

Designed as a sort of global mood ring, Pantone’s Color of the Year program started in 2000, when Cerulean blue was named to capture Y2K angst. Every chosen hue, explains Laurie Pressman, vice president at Pantone’s color consulting division, is supposed to be a “reflection” and an “antidote” for the times. Pantone claims that Rose Quartz and Serenity represent ”a mindset of tranquility and inner peace.”

Transgender Pride Flag

The secret selection committee’s decision had also been colored by widespread discussion of gender. “Globally, we are experiencing gender blur as it relates to fashion, which has in turn impacted color trends throughout all other areas of design,” explains Pantone in a release. “This more unilateral approach to color is coinciding with societal movements toward gender equality and fluidity.”(Give or take a few shades, the two colors form the Transgender Pride Flag too.)

Rose Quartz and Serenity are not entirely new to Pantone’s fans and customers. They were among the 10 colors named in its Sept. 10 Fashion Colors Report. They can also be found among the 210 new proprietary colors Pantone created for its fashion, home furnishings and interior design color system, unveiled in August.

Getting the word out

Pantone has also commissioned three street artists in Los Angeles, Miami and New York City to create murals overnight in homage to the twin colors of the moment. In this photo by artist Man One at Venice Beach, California, even the dusk sky seems to be wearing Pantone’s colors.

Reggie Reagor
Man One’s mural in Venice Beach, CA

For the selfie-obsessed set who wish to tint their universe in Rose Quartz and Serenity, special filters are now being offered by the photo editing app Aviary.

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.