Pantone Color of the Year 2015 Stirs Reactions

Earlier this week, Pantone, the global color authority, announced its color of the year for 2015: Marsala, a rich, earthy, wine-inspired hue. The internet was abuzz with commentary surrounding this news, with some praising this simply “delicious” choice while others criticizing it for the departure from past bold, vibrant choices such as Radiant Orchid, Emerald and Tangerine Tango.


It’s true that the color of the year has a far-reaching influence, impacting industries such as fashion, beauty, interior design and graphic design, to name a few. Here’s what Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, had to say about this year’s pick:

“Much like the fortified wine that gives Marsala its name, this tasteful hue embodies the satisfying richness of a fulfilling meal, while its grounding red-brown roots emanate a sophisticated, natural earthiness. This hearty, yet stylish tone is universally appealing and translates easily to fashion, beauty, industrial design, home furnishings and interiors.”

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Need to brush up your Pantone resources? We’ve got you covered.

We reached out to several graphic designers to gauge their knee-jerk reaction to the unveiling of Marsala as the Pantone color of the year 2015. Here’s what they had to say:

“It’s warm, expressive and … ok I’m guilty. I used it over my fireplace.”

Clint! Runge, Managing Director, Archrival

“Marsala? I’d call it more of a ‘Auntie Chris Lips,’ cuz that hue reminds me of my Aunties Chris always kissing us right on the ol’ lips. So yeah, ‘Marsala’ is nice and all, but I’m gonna go with remembering my beautiful Auntie Chris, and her big laugh. Rest in peace, sweetie.

“And another thing? Just how do they pick this stuff? Did I miss that part? Just cuz, I’m really feeling “Orange 021” for [the next] slot. Infinity, actually.”

Aaron James Draplin, Yard Boss, Draplin Design Co.

“I’m intrigued in that it’s nearly the opposite of what i would have expected, but at the same time it feels like a choice that would have been made a decade ago, when a somewhat earthier palette was more en vogue.”

Mick Malisic, Founder, Polstir Media (former director of marketing for frog design)

“The name is awful — it manages to be pretentious while also conjuring up images of chicken marsala (not something you want to style yourself in). Color wise, I do the love wine-inspired shade.”

Stephanie Orma, Writer/Illustrator, Orma Design

“I think I like its blend of natural and rich tones, but at the same time I’d be concerned that certain applications may produce a muddy or bland appearance.”

Adam Ladd, Art Director, HOW

“It’s nice to see a classic, rich shade make an appearance as color of the year. After several years of bolder, brighter shades, it’s refreshing to see the selection swing back to something more versatile. We see it pairing nicely with a wide range of colors.”

Amy Pastre, Founder/Designer, Stitch Design Co.

“At first blush, I really like it. I’m a sucker for deep colors, and I like the potential of pairing this with a nice green. The name also makes me hungry, which is never a bad thing.”

Joseph Hughes, Designer/Writer, Northcoast Zeitgeist

“When I saw the announcement about Marsala I immediately went to Strathmore Archive, (a luxury for which I am ever thankful!l) certain that I had seen this color in paper. And indeed as the attached shows a very close match to this color has been part of two different product lines. In 1937, Strathmore introduced the shade Riviera Rose, which is remarkably close to Marsala. Then in 1986 Strathmore launched a new textured paper called Esprit which included a color called Soft Plum, another slight variation on today’s Marsala. My knee-jerk reaction: what’s old is new again!”

Chris Harrold, Creative DIrector/VP Business Development, Mohawk

In addition, designer Kate Bingaman-Burt, held a lengthy discussion with her students enrolled in Portland State’s graphic design program. Here’s what they had to say about Marsala being crowned the Pantone Color of the Year 2015:

“If that is what 2015 is going to look like I am going to fast forward (elicits oooooh from the class).”

Tricia Leach, student

“If this is 2015, they are kind of staying in 2014, because I have seen this color so much this year. It’s not new. It’s already over.”

Erica Belland, student

“It’s better than black.”

Tricia Leach, student

Looking for Pantone color matching guides and sets to gush over? MyDesignShop, HOW’s official store, has the lowest prices on Pantone. Check out our bestselling sets here!

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