The Pantone colour for next year is green

Greenery is a zesty yellow-green shade that evokes hope.
Greenery is a zesty yellow-green shade that evokes hope. PHOTO: PANTONE

NEW YORK • When the question of what will define 2017 comes up, the response most often includes words like "Trump" and "populism" and "division" and "anger." "Green" - not so much.

The Pantone Color Institute has named its Color of the Year for 2017: Pantone 15-0343, colloquially known as greenery, which is to say a "yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring".

Because it turns out that green has everything to do with all of those other things emotionally and imaginatively.

"We know what kind of world we are living in: one that is very stressful and very tense," said Ms Leatrice Eiseman, the executive director of the Pantone Color Institute.

"This is the colour of hopefulness, and of our connection to nature. It speaks to what we call the 're' words: regenerate, refresh, revitalise, renew. Every spring we enter a new cycle and new shoots come from the ground. It is something life-affirming to look forward to."


In other words, if 2016 was your annus horribilis, whether because of elections or market forces or because you were suckered by fake news on Facebook, this suggests the possibility of something different in 2017.

When the Pantone team started noticing the creeping preponderance of green, there was a sense that perhaps it reflected what was regarded earlier this autumn as the possibility of a new beginning with the first female president.

But in the wake of Mr Donald Trump's victory in the United States Presidential Election and the dissension it highlighted, Ms Eiseman said, green "could have an even more significant meaning".

"This particular green is an unusual colour: a combination of yellow and blue, or warmth and a certain cool," she said. "It's a complex marriage."

Pantone started choosing Colors of the Year at the turn of the millennium, in part as a way to demonstrate the psychology around what makes a colour take off and to answer the question every fashion person is routinely asked: "Why is the colour so popular this season?"

Although the selections serve no direct consumer purpose - Pantone does not sell any products related to the choices - and hence the company has no way of measuring the effect of its declaration, the colours have become a sort of windsock for determining which way the national mood is blowing.

For 2015, it chose Marsala, an "earthy" red-brown shade named after the fortified wine, which also happened to be the colour of many US politicians' ties leading up to election year, in part because the colour conveys a sense of comfort and security.

For 2013, it was emerald, as seen that year on First Lady Michelle Obama in Marchesa at the Kennedy Center Honors, a dress that practically broke the Internet.

Although many women may recoil when they are told green is the Color of the Year - some think it is hard to wear - actress Julianne Moore wore leaf green Givenchy to the 2016 Screen Actors Guild awards and Mrs Hillary Clinton wore it on the campaign trail.

"There's a Japanese concept called 'forest bathing', which says that when you are feeling stressed, one of the best things to do is go walk in the forest," Ms Eiseman said.

"But if you can't do that, what can you do? Bring green into your environment. Put it on your body or in your house or near your desk. That symbolic message is very important."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2016, with the headline 'The Pantone colour for next year is green'. Print Edition | Subscribe