Pantone's colour of the year ushes in a purple patch
Design does not like to follow rules, but it does love a good colour forecast. For that, the industry anxiously awaits word from the Pantone Color Institute — our chromatic barometer of style, fantasy, and cultural reckoning.
The organisation’s recently announced Colour of the Year sends a volt of attitude into the interiors world with PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet — a deep, stirring hue with a few mystic crystal revelations of its own.
“We are living in a time that requires inventiveness and imagination,” said Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Colour Institute. “It is this kind of creative inspiration that is indigenous to PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet, a blue-based purple that takes our awareness and potential to a higher level. From exploring new technologies and the greater galaxy, to artistic expression and spiritual reflection, intuitive Ultra Violet lights the way to what is yet to come.”
Colour is not a neutral subject, and Pantone’s annual designations are taken with all the seriousness of thesis project. The Institute analyzes industries and categories across the spectrum — entertainment, fashion, new artists, traveling art collections, popular travel destinations, technology, media, social currents, and socioeconomic conditions — in search of colour influences. The Colour of Year, now in its 19th edition, is an amalgam of all that input, and has consistently become a powerful platform where trends, commerce, global style directions, opinions, and Pinterest boards converge.
How does all of this reflection and imperial introspection affect your home life? Hopefully, it translates into some aesthetic fearlessness. The inimitable, award-winning interior designer Jamie Drake is a master of colour and approaches this colour with little hesitation. “Saturated purple isn’t a shy colour, so why be bashful when using it in your interior? We love bold effects, and if you love Ultra Violet, go for it! In a Tribeca apartment we applied it as Venetian Plaster to the walls of a living room, and repeated it in throw pillows and small ottomans. The reverse of standard logic maybe, but to powerfully positive effect.”
For a project on the East Coast, New York-based interior designer Sasha Bikoff artfully deployed purple against a staircase (shown in gallery above) that amped up the home’s Georgian roots. This particular mansion was a riot of color across 21 rooms, where each wild shade served to complement the client’s collection of antiques.
If purple surrounds feel too steadfast, or if the iconic sway of Jimi Hendrix, Prince, and David Bowie just isn’t enough, we have a few fetching options to submerge you in posh Ultra Violet rays — be it seating, art, lighting, or a cashmere throw. Pantone fancies the iconoclastic nature of purple, positing: “Ultra Violet symbolises experimentation and non-conformity, spurring individuals to imagine their unique mark on the world and push boundaries through creative outlets.”
Purple flaunts an uncontended legacy, making it something of a sure thing in design. “Purple is historically a sophisticated colour,” says Drake of its potent impact. “For centuries, it has been a pigment associated with royalty, power, and wealth. Sophistication and suavity come naturally to the richness of purple.”
Classics are around for a reason. Lina Bo Bardi designed the Bowl chair in 1951. The semi-spherical body rests on a metallic ring and seems to have reached the zenith of simple, undiluted forms. Bardi wanted her unfussy form to blend seamlessly into any space, so she created a seat that can be swiveled into different positions. For the moment, it’s that rich purple fabric that’s caught most of the attention.
The iconic Danish lighting brand has turned out some undeniable hits in the course of more than 80 years. The Panthella Mini table lamp, designed by Verner Panton, continues the company’s tradition of simple silhouettes and illumination without glare. The trumpet-shaped stem is an obvious point of attraction, but the violet hue is hard candy kind of sweet in a petite size.
Pattern underfoot is hardly a big ask. Stark’s hand-knotted Sapphire Halli rug (from the Sapphire Collection) in violet captures the intensity of Ultra Violet with this moody, contemporary interpretation. Some designers would argue a room is not complete until a high-quality rug is in the picture. This one manages the graphic-adverse with a strong, confident design that delivers necessary bravura. Available to the trade through Stark.
Fashion-forward interior designer Sasha Bikoff went head-first into the royal shade and it’s take-no-prisoners attitude. A graphic moment along the staircase, illustrates how Bikoff dressed this mansion. Open door frames dominate the interiors, allowing you to see other rooms from any viewpoint in the house, so she went for bold color choices in each room — pink, purple, yellow, and green — to harmonise the way they do in nature. Bikoff worked with Paints of Europe to create high gloss, rich pigments in each room that would highlight the original Egg and Dart moldings.
From the mind of mid-century Danish design luminary Hans Wegner, the Wishbone Chair CH24 is an undisputed masterwork. The light purple version from Coalesse only reinforces the timelessness of this chair with the painted wooden frame.
FLOS launched Taccia Small more than 50 years after the original debuted. The new model is perfectly faithful to the original design, with a glass reflector, but with reduced dimensions and new colour choices including this glam violet option as well as bronze. The Castiglioni brothers often played with perspective, and the Taccia fits that brief by giving the illusion of an upside-down hanging lamp.
The curated online destination DECASO specialises modern and antique design and art, a stellar selection of violet finds. Pali, a 2015 work by artist Don Martiny, is being offered by Kathryn Markel Fine Arts in New York. The abstract piece is fashioned from acrylic polymer and pigment on aluminum and checks all the contemporary boxes with defiant purple and lilac strokes.
French brand Ligne Roset is known for their contemporary pieces, but designer Marie Christine Dorner infused a shot of classicism in her design for the MCD loveseat. A simple grid of stitching and tufting lavishes the plush interior, while the exterior remains crisp and architectural and lightly cross-stitched. This rich violet version, named Harald, deepens the mood.
Alexandra von Furstenberg
Accessories are usually the best introductions to colour, but they can easily appear too deliberate in a stark setting. Alexandra von Furstenberg has been in the chic business of modern acrylic for a while, and her Voltage acrylic trays in amethyst have the duality of function and fashion. Designer Jay Jeffers has the AVF collection in his own shop, Jeff Jeffers The Store, and lauds their easy manner — serving drinks, appetisers, keeping the office organise or just giving a punch of Ultra Violet.
Cashmere almost always purrs. The Italian brand Masserano is offered by Kneen & Co., an essential luxury lifestyle destination in Chicago. The piece features a violet top and white underside. Of the 100% cashmere creation owner Mary Jeanne Kneen waxes poetic, "Masserano creates the highest-quality textiles and this beautiful violet fringe throw does not disappoint. This lightweight cashmere throw is the perfect accent to any room.”
The Selina swivel chair from Sonder Living arrives via Maison 55. Created for the luxury lifestyle brand, this barrel back chair is a smooth customer. While yes, beige is always a safe option, this kind of seamless purple upholstery rewards the risk-taker. Violet can be a neutral if the rest of the room falls in line.