Pantone's 'Orchid' Is A Purple Hue That Doesn't Seem The Same

Dec 9, 2013
Originally published on December 6, 2013 7:35 pm

An "enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones" known as Radiant Orchid is Pantone's Color of the Year for 2014, unseating the more verdantly inclined Emerald that dominated the previous 12 months.

Pantone Color Institute, which describes itself as a global authority on color, describes its latest pick as "a captivating, magical, enigmatic purple" whose "rosy undertones radiate on the skin, producing a healthy glow when worn by both men and women."

For interiors, Radiant Orchid, Pantone says, is "as adaptable as it is beautiful" and "complements olive and deeper hunter greens, and offers a gorgeous combination when paired with turquoise, teal and even light yellows."

Sounds like it might go well with its predecessor, which was "a lively, radiant, lush green" that is "most often associated with precious gemstones."

All Things Considered's Melissa Block talked to Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, about the color, and what it takes to find the color of the year. You can hear the audio by clicking play above.

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We are leaving 2013, the year of Emerald. Before that, we were saturated with tangerine tango and honeysuckle. We're talking about the color of the year as decreed by the color people at Pantone Ink. So what's the color for 2014?

LEATRICE EISEMAN: Drum roll, it is radiant orchid.

BLOCK: That's Leatrice Eiseman. She's executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. She oversees the annual color search and she's pretty excited about radiant orchid.

EISEMAN: It's a member of the purple family with a strong fuchsia pink undertone and it really is an absolutely - I call it a beguiling color because being a member of the purple family, it has a certain amount of charm.

BLOCK: And when you say it's beguiling, what do you think is so beguiling about it?

EISEMAN: It represents a coming together of blue and red, which a diametrically opposed as far as psychological basis is concerned. One's very exciting, the other is tranquilizing and yet, you bring them together and issue forth a new color. So you've got something that's got some complexity and a color that has for a long time been established as the color of originality and creativity.

And as a result, that's one of the big reason why we chose the color because we feel that we're living in that kind of an age, where creativity is and originality is being sought after.

BLOCK: Well, why don't you explain how that choosing process works? I mean, how is it that you come up with the color for the year to come?

EISEMAN: What I look for in particular are emerging colors when I go to Europe, I'm leaving for Asia tomorrow, as a matter of fact, I live on the West Coast, but I work with a company on the East Coast. We get lots of influences from all over the world and your color antenna, it's hard to explain, are always kind of quivering when you see a color that seems to be starting to ascend in a lot of different cultures.

So we do a lot of homework and we look at art collections and is this color playing into the world of art? What is happening as far as the big soccer matches in Brazil? Where is the home country? Is this color indigenous to that country? We look at the, of course, the fashion industry is always an important indicator and we're certainly seeing a lot of that for spring fashion and we're starting to see indications of the color in not only women's fashion, but in men's fashion as well.

So there are lots of indicators that lead us to the color of the year.

BLOCK: You know, Ms. Eiseman, I love purple so I'm pretty excited about this choice of radiant orchid, but I do wonder by the end of 2014 if I'm going to be really sick of this color.

EISEMAN: You know, we didn't see that happen with emerald and we certainly didn't see that happen with tangerine tango and orange is one of those colors that for many years, you know, historically, it was the color that people didn't necessarily gravitate to. But we are seeing orange lasting in the market place.

But, you know, in men's wear, we're seeing colors like radiant orchid being used in sneakers and unusual usages of it for men. I've even seen it in suede loafers. So this is what I mean by the bubbling up. Maybe somebody very adventurous in Europe would go out and buy the suede loafer. It'll take time to get over here and maybe it'll make it into, you know, a converse sneaker before it'll make it into a suede loafer.

Nevertheless, the suggestion is there. People will look at it and we hope it will encourage them to experiment more with color.

BLOCK: Well, Ms. Eiseman, thanks for talking to us about Pantone's color of the year for 2014, radiant orchid. Appreciate it.

EISEMAN: Thank you.

BLOCK: Leatrice Eiseman is executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.