Setting the (Pan)tone for 2019

Most people contemplate a New Year’s resolution when the time arrives to change calendars. I await the arrival of the next Pantone color of the year. After adopting peach, coral, and salmon tones while transforming my artistic identity after a serendipitous revelation in 2017, I unexpectedly forecasted 2019’s designated color. Living Coral soon crept into various platforms of other’s design.


To prepare for my first concert of 2019, I ventured to the Panic! At the Disco merchandise pop-up shop at Brooklyn’s Barclays center. I expected to enter a store swarmed with warm green and teal hues following their latest album cycle’s visual language. Surprisingly, most of the inventory exhibited variations of coral tones. I found it amusing even Brendon Urie followed the Pantone trend.

Pray for the Wicked Tour epitomized the intended meaning of Living Coral. Concerts always provide a cathartic yet exhilarating experience. In an age where we conduct our lives to curate a filtered version on social media, a concert captures us in the present. Unauthentic online content easily distorts our ideas of reality and therefore our standards for unattainable perfection. However, there is no post-production involved in a live performance. The content is raw and unfiltered. Concerts provide a healthy distraction from the illusions casted by the internet and its resulting societal pressures. Sharing euphoria with an audience allows us to feel welcomed to an intimate community.

Brendon manifested this mindset effortlessly with his stage presence. The frontman’s contemporary pop spin on retro glam rock with theatrical tendencies defied labels of masculinity and femininity. His honest artistry spoke for itself when encouraging the audience to live authentically rather than to uphold an expected image. Impressive talent laced with lighthearted laughs liberated the atmosphere. Brendon’s energy charged the arena with his dancing and creative expression. He demonstrated his vocal range faster than one can blink while his bedazzled blazer and charming smile radiated joy. Optimism lingered in the air as he sang about having hopes as high as his perfectly sculpted quiff. Brendon’s undeniable charisma certainly personified Pantone’s mission of declaring Living Coral as the color of 2019.


Colors assume a life of their own with the impact they have. Each hue projects its own personality while alluding to particular emotions and narratives. In addition to symbolism, they come alive when changing behavior in reaction to surrounding colors. Their conceptual and psychological influence solidifies the crucial importance color has in design.

New York City’s Color Factory exhibition explored these notions. Serving as another destination for social media enthusiasts among trending pop-up museums, Color Factory integrated color with other senses. Its series of installations allowed color to be experienced by more than just sight. I enjoyed observing variations of coral throughout the interactive color theory class. 


I later embarked on a chromatic quest to find other examples of coral integrated within design and my surroundings. Similar to my experience at Color Factory, color stimulated multiple senses. I learned that Living Coral tastes like a blend of strawberry and raspberry after indulging in French macaroons. Plenty flower shops filled the streets with a stimulating aroma. Newsstands informed viewers on design while art demonstrated the influence of creative news. Retail displays and merchandise also alluded to the Pantone trend. Chelsea’s Story, an innovative boutique that periodically changes its inventory based on an evolving narrative, recently reimagined itself based on color. Its section reserved for warm hues used its merchandise and decor to convey a coral gradient. Further downtown, Etro’s SoHo location interpreted Living Coral with a more literal approach. Its mannequins wore tints of coral and peach while placed in an underwater atmosphere. The display included a coral reef and fish props which contributed to the color theme. 




Top Left to Right: French Macarons, Bouquet, Calzedonia Socks, esse arts + opinions issue 95, Love magazine issue 20.5, ARTnews magazine Vol. 118, No. 1, self service magazine issue 50 / Middle Left to Right: Story (color) display, Etro SoHo display / Bottom Let to Right: Chelsea Market waterfall display, Pink Walking Girl by Jane Maxwell at JoAnne Artman Gallery, Something Good is Worth Finding sticker by Libby Schoettle

I have always found the concept of trends ironic. Design consists of the balance between maintaining relevance while preserving individuality. It seems challenging to capitalize on a trend while also making a particular statement. However, 2019 has demonstrated the diverse ways in which coral has influenced design. Each example fulfilled Pantone’s intention to encourage optimism. Whether created, curated, or in nature, Living Coral expresses a joyful energy.

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