2019 Color of the Year: Living Coral

Yakkety Yak Art Director Michael Fischer weighs in on Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2019 and what it means for designers

Every year, the folks at Pantone take an in-depth look into the social psyche of our color preferences to determine the prestigious Color of the Year. As 2019 is assumed to be a year marked with notes of political resilience, environmental shifts and the redefining of previously accepted norms, Pantone gave us one of the more difficult colors to define: Living Coral.

PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral

Video via Pantone

What is Living Coral?

Is it orange? Is it pink? Are we even supposed to know?! “The color’s ambiguity is meant to capture where we are as a society, culture and world in 2019,” says Michael. “After all, our environment is, at best, a great big question mark.” Living Coral opens the door to a conversation about our future, and there’s so much on the horizon that it’s hard to really tell what’s ahead. Not to mention, the bright pinkish hue resembles a sun dropping below or rising up from the horizon.

Why Living Coral Now?

CNN reported last year that we have until 2030 to reduce our net CO2 emissions. With that daunting task ahead of us, it’s no surprise that Living Coral pays tribute to our environment. Coral reefs are assumed to be home to a quarter of all ocean life, and Living Coral reminds us that so many creatures rely on these precious ecosystems. “Pantone could have just named the color ‘Coral,’ so it’s clear that ‘Living Coral’ was a deliberate choice to acknowledge the fact that we must take better care of our planet. ”

“Plus, the color feels optimistic,” Michael explains. “Looking at it, you’re reminded of a new dawn and a fresh start, which coincides perfectly with the start of a new year.” Friendly reminder: Now is the time to do those things that scare you and have been on your bucket list for far too long. You know us: we love all things digital, but it’s so important to get out from behind your computer and see this great big world of ours. Get out there and live!

Above all else, Living Coral suggests femininity. While it’s true that the hue evokes the tone of “traditional” femininity, there is something to be said about reclaiming the color as a source of power and tribute to the fierce females breaking the glass ceiling, joining Congress in record numbers––hello, 42 new Congresswomen!––and just living life as equal members of society.  And let’s be honest, the significance would have been lost with another color selection. Even Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, refers to color as “an equalizing lens” through which we view reality. The future is female, people!

leatrice eiseman quote
Image via Pantone

Where can we expect to see Living Coral?

Social and environmental implications aside, there’s really only one thing that designers of all cloth can agree on: In 2019, Living Coral rules.

“We can all expect to see a flood of Living Coral used in everything from statement walls in interior spaces to color blocking in web interfaces,” says Michael. “My guess is you’ll see it pop up in products that are only cool before everyone has them. From the Instagram influencer’s hair to the plates of Michelin-starred restaurants, don’t underestimate the power of Living Coral.”

While we get ready to live for Living Coral, let’s revisit the Pantone Color of the Year selections from the years past.


Ultra Violet
PANTONE 18-3838

2018 Pantone Ultra Violet


PANTONE 15-0343

2017 Pantone Greenery


Rose Quartz & Serenity
PANTONE 13-1520 & PANTONE 15-3919

2016 Pantone Rose Quartz and Serenity


PANTONE 18-1438

2015 Pantone Marsala


Radiant Orchid
PANTONE 18-3224

2014 Pantone Radiant Orchid

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