Living Coral: why the Pantone Colour of the Year matters
January 11, 2019

For the past 20 years the team of colour experts at Pantone have been predicting (and influencing) design trends by announcing a Colour of the Year. Let's take an in-depth look at the 2019 edition.

For the past 20 years, the team of colour experts at Pantone have been predicting (and influencing) design trends by announcing a Colour of the Year.

This year it has chosen Living Coral as the hue that replaces 2018’s innovative Ultra Violet shade.

More prosaically known as PANTONE 16-1546, Living Coral is a peachy, orange hue with golden undertones.

It has already made appearances on the catwalk and looks set to inform colour choices across the art and design worlds this coming year.

Here’s what Pantone says about Living Coral, why we think it matters even more than they say and some ways you can include it in your own design choices.

What Pantone says about Living Coral

For Pantone, the hue is an antidote to modern life’s frenetic pace. Both vibrant and mellow, Living Coral is a warm, nourishing and immersive hue that helps provide comfort and buoyancy in today’s ever-changing digital world. It is a sociable, spirited, optimistic, playful and light-hearted colour.

Here’s what Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, says it embodies:
‘Colour is an equalising lens through which we experience our natural and digital realities and this is particularly true for Living Coral. With consumers craving human interaction and social connection, the humanising and heartening qualities displayed by the convivial Pantone Living Coral hit a responsive chord.’

Why Living Coral matters

Beneath these life-affirming qualities, there lies a deadlier story that keeps bubbling up to the surface.
As Pantone itself recognises this natural takes its name from a ‘glorious, yet unfortunately more elusive, display beneath the sea’.

While the hue may symbolise how coral reefs provide shelter to a diverse kaleidoscope of colours underneath the water, the shade itself must also remind us of the threat that our activity can have on these very reefs.
Coral reefs form a vital part of the marine ecosystem and have proven to be exceptionally vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

According to a 2017 UNESCO World Heritage Centre report, 21 of the 29 World Heritage reefs have sustained repeated or serious heat stress. It is predicted that, at this rate, the World Heritage coral reefs could be effectively dead in less than a century.

Let’s hope that the optimism of Living Coral’s hue will be more than just a painfully ironic reminder of natural beauty now lost in years to come.

How you can bring Living Coral into your art, craft and life

Living Coral has already been seen in the Spring/Summer 2019 collections of Stella McCartney, Prada and Prabal Gurung – and supermodel Gigi Hadid recently appeared adorned head to toes in its warm hues.

Here are some other places to find inspiration for incorporating the warm tones of Living Coral into your art, craft and life.


How to wear Living Coral this year

Interior design

How to bring your home to life with Living Coral

Food and drink

How to create Living Coral cocktails


How to host a Living Coral dinner party


Living Coral inspiration from designers on Dribble


Learn more about preserving and protecting coral reefs from the World Wildlife Fund

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