The world is about to look a lot more vivid: the Pantone Color Institute has named “Tangerine Tango,” a radiant red-orange, as the top color of 2012. The color experts have been amping up their selections each year, with the serene and calming turquoise in 2010 giving way to 2011’s honeysuckle, a warm, reddish-pink color meant to lift spirits and instill confidence.
But the current economic climate and frustrations call for something bolder this coming year. Pantone has turned to the “spirited reddish-orange” hue to “provide the energy boost we need to recharge and move forward.” Orange signals not only vitality, but also urgency and strength—associations that should resonate in a year where many are hoping to finally start seeing changes. “There’s the element of encouragement with orange,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “It’s building on the ideas of courage and action, that we want to move on to better things.
Eiseman’s background in psychology is put to good use in determining which color will specifically resonate in culture. In a statement, the color specialist explained that Tangerine Tango in particular is “hopeful and optimistic,” marrying the “vivaciousness and adrenaline rush of red with the friendliness and warmth of yellow,” while maintaining a quality of sophistication.
So, how does one decide which color will be worthy of encapsulating the emotional state and pulse of the coming year? Pantone experts look for color influences in various industries, using trend forecasting and some psychology to understand what’s resonating. Colors are picked up from fashion, film, technology, art, popular travel destination, and “other socio-economic conditions.”
The electric color is likely to manifest itself strongly in fashion, as the color popped up all over the runways in spring collections, including those of Tommy Hilfiger, Nanette Lepore and Elie Tahari. A less expected, but still anticipated, venue for the color: the face. Pantone Universe is partnering with Sephora to launch seasonal makeup collections, and will present Tangerine Tango in a Color of the Year beauty collection in spring. Orange-red lips, nails, and even eye shadows are likely to be trendy next year, Pantone predicts.
For the less committal of us, Tango would be an ideal color for a throw pillow or blanket to liven up a living space, or to energize a room as an accent wall. We’re not totally certain whether this burst of orange will have a grand effect on some collective psyche, but, hey—whatever works, right?