Pantone Colour of the Year: boring blue, or perfect for our anxious times?

Posted on 11/12/2019 by Alun Davies

Classic Blue may appear to be boring and predictable. But have Pantone made an astute choice showing a change of design direction as we enter the next decade, or have they missed the mark?

Pantone has named Classic Blue as the colour of the year as we head into the next decade, the twenties.

In our fast-paced changing world, with anxiety and confusion at the top of the agenda, is Classic Blue a good indicator of the global state of the nation, craving a sense of peace and tranquillity, trust and faith? Is Classic Blue a representation of natural elements like the sky and the sea that we crave, and the need to escape from technology?

Or has Pantone missed the mark, choosing a hue which is so often associated with the blues, melancholy, and depression?

And rather than needing restful colours, as we enter the next decade of the twenties, should we be looking for colours that represent rebellion and anger and change?

We are living in a time that requires trust and faith. It is this kind of constancy and confidence that is expressed by PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue.

Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Colour Institute

PANTONE 19-4052: Classic Blue:

representing trustworthiness, dependability, and constancy.



Global politics have never been more uncertain, and potentially dangerous. Social media makes us anxious. Fake news is one of our greatest threats.

Pantone’s colour of the year expresses our global zeitgeist of trepidation about the world, and the need for reassurance, calm and confidence.

And of course, Pantone are choosing a Colour of the Year to start conversations about the meaning of colours and the role different hues play in our lives.


We landed back on the blue family, where we’ve been and where we are. Just not knowing where to go and who to trust…[blue is] the feeling of calm and reassurance that help us have that confidence to move forward.

From now and then [1999], there’s the same feeling of trepidation about the world, which is why, based on what we saw happening in our global culture, we selected Pantone 19-4052, Classic Blue, to be our color of the year for 2020.  It’s a reassuring blue, full of calm and confidence. It builds connection.

Laurie Pressman, Vice President of the Pantone Color Institute

in Time Magazine

But have Pantone missed the mark by not addressing the mood of society when it comes to issues like climate change, and environmental concerns?

Already, designers are satirising Pantone’s selection:

Bleached coral colour of the year


Colours define the decades, and Classic Blue could be the start of the twenty twenties.

Think of the 1960’s and the colours like Avocado, Harvest Gold and Warm Browns spring to mind.

Fast forward to the 2010’s and it’s all about minimalism, with white walls garnished with splashes of copper, or Facebook’s social media blue.

Colours come in and out of fashion, and the colour palette for each decade is inspired by politics, pop culture, fashion, technology, and design.

So are we shifting gears from cool minimalism (and millennium pink), into the calmness, confidence and connectivity of Classic Blue?

Classic Blue Pantone Merchandise

So…. is Pantone’s colour of the year a hit or miss?


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Pantone Colour of the Year: boring blue, or perfect for our anxious times?

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