This year’s standout is related to connecting to nature, how it lasts through centuries and taking that into the future, according to the Pantone Color Institute’s executive director, Leatrice Eiseman.
Viva Magenta is a shade that is powerful and empowering — the point being it “encourages self-expression without restraint, is dynamic and electrifying,” Eiseman said. The need for calm as a balm and tranquility is undeniable following the events of the past three years, but energy is also in demand “to get us over this next hurdle — wherever it takes us,” she said.
The fact that participants in Pantone’s color association studies consistently consider reds to be exciting and dynamic is another plus. “Those words will help to take us into the future and get away from any of the concerns that we might still have. And we do. COVID[-19] hasn’t gone away entirely. It gives us the energy to balance what has happened and where we are going in the future,” she said.
Fittingly, given these work-from-home-friendly times, Viva Magenta is a “hybrid color, blending a warmth and coolness, which also depict the physical and the virtual,” she said. Playing to a color-appreciative crowd, Pantone hosted the big reveal Thursday night at Art Basel in Miami.
Along with the global attention that the Color of the Year now attracts, consumers can not only see, hear or read about Viva Magenta, but they will also soon be able to step through beams of it.
The technology-driven Artechouse has created “the Magentaverse,” a multisensory collaborative exhibition with Pantone that features immersive rooms inspired by Viva Magenta, that will open to the public Saturday for a limited run in Miami. Along the way, ticket-holders will catch explorations in design, space and technology inspired by NASA and Pantone sponsors Motorola, Lenovo, Spoonflower and other brands amping up Viva Magenta.
To bring all of this to fruition, Pantone and its creative partner Huge hatched a design experiment to delve into the push-and-pull between new technology and human creativity. Working with the AI tool Midjourney, they created the “visual manifestation” of Viva Magenta to come up with an immersive world. The key visual was designed partially with artificial intelligence.
From Pantone’s perspective, the choice not only shows that what comes from nature is real, but also spins it into the future in relation to AI. “We felt this was a great color to do that with. It’s really time to do the red family again,” Eiseman said.
This crimson is also similar to carmine red, which is rooted in cochineal dye and was one of the first dyes to come entirely from nature, Eiseman said. Somewhat primordial, the ancient color dates back eons as one of the ways that humans first dyed their objects, yet the AI factor presents it as more futuristic. With consumers increasingly interested in parting ways with synthetics and returning to nature (not only as a retreat) “to color our clothing and our world around us,” Pantone felt that spotlighting one of the brightest dyes made perfect sense, she said.
To hint at the color, Pantone features a small beetle in some of the Color of the Year promotional material. “No matter what happens in the world — it exists and is still out there. We thought that was the embodiment of going back to nature and survival,” Eiseman said. “But at the same time, we are looking towards the future with the Magentaverse, an unexpected, exciting universe. We don’t even know some of the things that will happen. What is going to come from this unleashed creativity? Viva Magenta celebrates that idea.”
That indefiniteness or infinity, depending on your point of view, also applies to digitized art and AI, which will inevitably lead to never-before-seen art forms. As for the public’s thirst for color, Eiseman said, “There is such complexity in our lives that colors become more complex. I don’t mean that in a negative way. Simply, if we start to examine color more and the undertones, we’re so fascinated by it that it takes it out of the realm of childhood, when you looked at primary and secondary colors. As we get older, we look for what lies within that maybe I didn’t see before.”
Pandemic-induced creative pursuits to pass the time at home and boost people’s moods have also upped the general public’s interest in color. And the psychological and emotional impact of a color continue to be something that people can’t talk enough about, Eiseman said. Another sign of the shift is how more museums and galleries are being more experimental with their use of color on the walls that provide a backdrop for their art and exhibitions.
“There is hardly a museum that you can walk into today, where you don’t see this careful consideration for the art that is on the wall, surrounded by the appropriate background. That is all part of the artistic expression and is a very exciting visual experience beyond just the art, which of course is wonderful.”
That practice is also ebbing into set designs for films, especially in animation. “That stays in people’s consciousness. They might not remember exactly what they saw in the film or even the film. But the point is they saw color being used in inventive and interesting ways that opens up avenues of experimentation. We’ve seen that certainly in the fashion world, where color combinations can be so uniquely different than anything that we had ever thought of using before.”
While some see red as an “aggressive color,” Pantone specialists consider Viva Magenta to be “assertive,” as in “a fist in a velvet glove,” Eiseman said. It’s also “galvanizing,” leading us into the future.
Pundits and voters need not read into the 2023 Color of the Year as an indicator of politics. Eiseman dismissed that: “We’ve gotten very little comments about which party is it and who does it represent? People are interested in the creative aspect, the psychology, and the emotional aspect of the color,” she said.
The ins and outs of determining the Color of the Year are never systematic, but the consideration of current outside forces is always in play. How incidental and important colors are being used internationally is another element. Rather than pinpoint one artist or particular film, the team studies the worlds of entertainment, the arts, sports and industrial design, as well as different cultures.
“It’s hard to explain unless you are a colorist. It’s almost like this subliminal thing. You are starting to see certain colors popping up even if it’s only in the periphery of your eye.” Eiseman said. “The red has really been climbing in nearly every area that we looked into, whether that be entertainment, art or wherever. And of course in fashion, you have seen how strong red has been.” Versace, Balenciaga and multiple other designers are on board with that color trend.
In terms of Pantone partners, Spoonflower, an online store for custom fabric, wallpaper and home décor, is unveiling one-of-a-kind designs from six independent artists, Another partner, the home fitness specialist Hydrow, is introducing a Viva Magenta version of its Wave Rower rowing machine. Motorola is applying Viva Magenta to some of its mobile products.
As for launching in Miami, Eiseman said, “That is an area of the country where people do use color with abandon. There is that acceptance level there to begin with. The more people talk about the [Artechouse] immersive experience and say, ‘You have to see this,’ will be a huge advantage. It really captures people.”