ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Soothing, that’s the word for the colors that experts at the influential Pantone company picked for 2016.
Instead of the bold tones of recent years, they’ve gone for soft pastels in pink and blue reminiscent of baby shower cards. It’s the first time since Pantone began the annual ritual in 1999, that the company has chosen more than one color.
In announcing its choices early in December, Pantone described the pink Rose Quartz (Pantone 15-3919) and pale blue Serenity (Pantone 13-1520), as a “harmonious pairing of inviting shades that embody a mind set of tranquility and inner peace.”
Carlstadt, N.J.-based Pantone is the provider of professional color standards for the design industry. Its color experts travel worldwide scanning for new influences and their resulting color of the year choice impacts multiple industries, including fashion, home furnishings and graphic design, the company said in its announcement.
However, it appears too early to tell how much the Pantone color picks will affect the local market.
Shift to soft
Albuquerque graphic designer Lori Patton O’Hara follows the Pantone trends and personally likes the shift toward the softer colors. However, she’s not sure how much she will use Pantone’s 2016 colors for her print and web design projects.
“They don’t stand out like the colors in the past. They’re very muted. It really depends on what the project is. I don’t know that they’re necessarily attention-grabbing colors,” Patton O’Hara said.
Clothing in pale shades of pink and blue was evident in some local fashion stores just before Christmas. Chico’s and Loft had several sweaters in a dusty pink similar to Rose Quartz and a few tops in a Serenity-like blue. The pink also showed up in jewelry items that were newly in stock at Loft.
Melissa Lea Beasley, founder and executive director of New Mexico Fashion Week, said she hopes some of the participants will incorporate the colors in the collections they display at the show in April.
One of the designers who plans to show, Jesse Call of Western Grace, said she pays close attention to the Pantone color choices.
“I try to have a couple of pieces for the spring and summer that go with the Pantone top trends,” said Call. She specializes in tailored women’s business and evening attire.
At American Home Furniture, New Mexico’s largest furniture retailer, vice president of merchandising Elaine Roy was uncertain how the Rose Quartz and Serenity would show up in the furniture world.
“I’m still wrapping my design sense around that, trying to see how that’s going to fit in,” Roy said.
At a major industry show in Las Vegas, Nev., this fall she noticed a softening of color tones in upholstery, bed headboards, throw pillows and other accessories. She also noticed a sofa in a dusty pink by Italian furniture manufacturer Natuzzi that she plans to stock in the spring.
“Sometimes it takes a while for the Pantone colors to hit,” Roy said, adding that this is especially true with furniture because it is a costly investment. She has noticed that people are gravitating toward lighter colors in their homes instead of the earthy tones that have long been popular in New Mexico.
“We’re seeing dining room sets and bedroom sets in white. We’re seeing lighter woods, and gray is everywhere,” Roy said.
Barbara Thomsen, co-owner of Tema Furniture on Montgomery, agrees.
“Gray is being used as a base color rather than beige, it’s in all the new housing,” Thomsen said. “Gray wood colors are in desks, dining tables. We have a ton of it in the store. We’re seeing more and more of this,” she said.
Lots of white
The shift toward more soothing colors isn’t confined to the Pantone specialists. Big names in household paints like Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore and PPG, which specializes in industrial and automotive coatings, have also picked paler shades for the coming year.
Sherwin Williams has a dusky white called “Alabaster,” which, the company says, “can set the tone for healing, rest and meditation in a bedroom or nursery.” By contrast, Sherwin Williams’ 2015 color was Reef Coral, described as “uplifting and vivacious.”
Benjamin Moore’s 2016 color is “Simply White,” which is … simply white. The 2015 color was a pale green.
PPG, which chose a lavish blue in 2015, came up with an aloe-vera toned green called Paradise Found for 2016.
“Paradise Found represents the ease and rejuvenation one feels in nature. It is organic and alive while being a subtle and soft backdrop,” according to the company.