Ultra Violet | Behind the scenes at the Pantone Colour of the Year 2018

What would thinkers like Wittgenstein or painters like Kandinsky or Klee have made of the Pantone Colour of the Year?

They certainly wouldn’t have trusted a mere intuition to set a trend: they would have plumbed the depths of the web in search of evidence. Having tracked down a possible trend, they would have experimented with the infinite possibilities for juxtaposition. Environment, material, ceremony, sensation. Finally, they would have asked themselves: but is that cup truly violet? Or am I so ready for a new galaxy that I just see it violet, or even Ultra Violet. And how are we going to tell everyone that the cup is violet? Starting from aesthetics, they would have stumbled across a political issue: agreement or disagreement. Raise your hand if you think the cup is violet. The dispute would soon have turned into a scuffle, until Goethe returned from the dead to resolve the thorny issue once and for all. He would have stood up and caustically proclaimed: “Light appears yellow if seen through a turbid medium; darkness appears blue through an illuminated medium. We must love both transparent and turbid.” The audience that gathered to hear the Pantone Colour of the Year announced would have walked out as one, pouring into the streets, bored and confused.

And yet, with the typical forethought of a prophet, good old Goethe had defined what the Pantone Colour of the Year 2018 would be. Transparent and turbid, meditative and invigorating. This is Ultra Violet 18-3838, the colour that Pantone announced last December as the manifesto of the now. Complex and contemplative, able to evoke the mysteries of the cosmos and identity and sufficiently Anglo-Saxon to bring U2 and David Bowie together: Ultra Violet looks to a future of reconciliation that naturally combines the opposites of blue and red. A complex, liquid and mystic colour, designed to offer stability to those who consciously seek it and suitable for those who, exposed to the countless screens of our daily life, seek meditative refuge. It connects the senses, therefore, before meaning is even considered.

All this starts from the question that occupies the Pantone Color Institute every year: what is needed in our world today? “As individuals around the world become more fascinated with colour and realise its ability to convey deep messages and meanings” said Laurie Pressman, Vice President of the Pantone Color Institute, “designers and brands should feel empowered to use colour to inspire and influence.” And this, essentially, is the heart of what we call design: the ability to use shapes and colours to represent the powerful emotions of the age we live in.

Photos by:
Kai Oberhauser – Ultraviolet Alps
Dana Edelson – Ultraviolet U2
Octavian Rosca – Ultraviolet jellyfish
Sandro Katalina – Ultraviolet lights architecture

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