Why To Love Pantone’s New Color Of The Year

The Pantone Color Of The Year is Living Coral which, funny enough, was not a color that I thought existed. But it does!

It’s a pretty, deep pink-red that feels both natural and not, a color that would look great for any gender at any time. It recalls underwater whimsy and fun and, as Pantone explains, the color is a “fusion of modern life” while emitting “the desired, familiar and energising aspects of colour found in nature.” The brief on the color stresses the natural ties the color has and that it helps to harness human interactions and social connections that we seem to be losing.

What’s also lying beneath? The planet and, as some have observed, the idea of a colorful coral in 2018 is an oxymoron. As Dezeen skewered, to pick Living Coral is to opt for “unfortunate symbolism” as “headlines rage about climate change and the associated destruction of reefs worldwide.” Fair.

But you know what else? The color reminds that we still have time to keep coral alive. All is not lost – yet. We’re close, sure, but we’re not broken beyond repair just yet. Earther’s Brian Kahn points this out recently with a little story on the color intended to take down the haters and praise Living Coral.

As a climate journalist, cynicism is a feeling I’m all too familiar with. I spend all day thinking and writing about how the world is blowing its chances at a stable climate. I know intimately that if the planet warms by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, coral reefs will see widespread devastation, and that we are on a path that will shoot us well past that right now.


If you believe nothing can change, then yes, living coral is a slap in the face; a stinging reminder of the cycle of constant growth driven by fossil fuels that’s brought the world to this point. Yet when I saw that Pantone chose living coral as their color of the year, I was stoked.

Here was a chance to talk about one of the most beautiful organisms found on Earth that is also among the most profoundly impacted on climate change. Pantone itself notes this, if only obliquely, by pointing out that living coral is becoming “unfortunately more elusive.” And in statement to Earther, the company said “[w]e were inspired by the natural, colorful diversity of our oceans, and while Pantone is not an environmental organization, we are aware of the environmental concerns surrounding the dire state of coral reefs and marine life.”

Valid point as well.

A subject like climate change is overwhelming and consuming and, instead of doing the work of “getting it,” it’s easier to scoff and roll your eyes in toward the cynical. Challenge yourself to do more because I can guarantee if you are handling news like this with dashes of cynicism then you are most likely thinking this way when you are opting creating garbage or driving a car, thinking “Well, we’re fucked anyway.” That’s not helping anyone.

If anything, Living Coral is a reminder to look around you, to have compassion, to do the work. Coral can still live and be colorful in this world. We just have to do our part to ensure this remains true.

More For You To Read