How retailers can create an experience using Pantone’s Color of the Year.

Each December, design enthusiasts anxiously await Pantone’s announcement about its Color of the Year for the following 12 months. Besides becoming somewhat of a pop culture phenomenon, the Color of the Year guides not only fashion but home furnishings as well, planting the seed of an “it” color for the year to come.

For 2020, the color forecasting agency has chosen a tried-and-true hue sure to communicate dependability and stability. Called Classic Blue, the navy shade, which Pantone says is timeless and enduring in its simplicity, is suggestive of the sky at dusk.

“Classic Blue is a beautiful shade and very versatile,
working with a variety of different styles from
Traditional to Mid-Century Modern to Contemporary.”

Veronica Bradley, owner of Veronica Bradley Interiors

“We are living in a time that requires trust and faith,” says Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute. “It is this kind of constancy and confidence that is expressed by PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue, a solid and dependable blue hue we can always rely on. Imbued with a deep resonance, PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue provides an anchoring foundation.”

This year, to bring the color of Classic Blue to life, Pantone partnered with Firmenich, AudioUX, LANDR, and The Inside to provide a multisensory experience intended to immerse people in the feelings the Color of the Year offers.

“As we all head into a new era, we wanted to challenge ourselves to find inspiration from new sources that not only evolve our Color of the Year platform, but also help our global audiences achieve richer and more rewarding color experiences,” adds Eiseman. “This desire, combined with the emotional properties of PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue, motivated us to expand beyond the visual, to bring the 2020 Pantone Color of the Year to life through a multi-sensory experience.”

Multisensory elements include:

  • The sight of the Color of the Year 2020 Pantone 19-4502 Classic Blue: Known as a restful color, Classic Blue brings a sense of peace and tranquility to the human spirit.
  • The sound of the Color of the Year 2020, in partnership with Audio UX: The sound of Classic Blue, Vivid Nostalgia, is nostalgic and takes listeners to a place that’s comforting and familiar.
  • The texture of the Color of the Year 2020, in partnership with The Inside: The feel of the color fabric translates into a soft, velvety texture, further emphasizing the calming quality of the color, while eliciting feelings of empowerment to expand the mind and build foundation for the future.
  • The taste of the Color of the Year 2020, in partnership with Firmenich: The taste of the color is described as gentle and elegant, and explores the idea of maturing through ripening.
  • The scent of the Color of the Year 2020, also in partnership with Firmenich: The scent of the color elicits contemplation and a feeling of optimism for the future, with notes of blue water and sea salt lifted by airy sky.

As is evidenced by Pantone’s approach this year, Classic Blue can provide an experience in and of itself. How can lighting and home furnishings retailers use Pantone’s pick in a way that’s impactful for their customers? Turn to interior designers and visual merchandisers for inspiration.

How Designers Use It

Veronica Bradley, owner of Veronica Bradley Interiors in Columbus, Ohio, loves to incorporate Classic Blue into a room with pillows, artwork, or a statement piece of furniture. “Classic Blue is a beautiful shade and very versatile, working with a variety of different styles from Traditional to Mid-Century Modern to Contemporary,” Bradley says. “It’s calming, stable, and timeless.”

Gil Walsh – owner of Gil Walsh Interiors, which operates out of West Palm Beach, Fla. and Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts – agrees, believing that every home’s scheme should incorporate at least some blue.

“Whether it’s at the forefront of the entire theme, or selecting the perfect shade of blue for accent cushions, area rugs, and upholstery fabrics, blue is universal, and the shade you select communicates the message you want to impart about the overall room design,” Walsh says.

When thinking about what to pair with Classic Blue, Walsh prefers to use white or neutrals and light-colored, textured window coverings, allowing blue to be the focal point. But don’t be afraid to up the ante even more, Walsh says. “If you want to add another pop of color, I always suggest red!”

How Merchandisers Use It

Dennis Beard, Design Director at Designers Fountain, used Classic Blue in a big way during the recent Lightovation show at Dallas Market Center, where he created a window display featuring several blue shades.

Beard – who was a fashion major, an opera singer, and a theatrical prop builder before working in the industry as a lighting designer – made the entire display himself. He purchased and washed
150 yards of fabric to give it a weathered look, then tore all of the fabric into pieces that measured
11/2 to 2 inches wide and cut them into lengths from 12 to 15 inches, hand-tying thousands of these strips to create the ombre effect. The wall behind the hangings was painted with 5 to 6 shades of blue as well. Beard says that he consulted the Pantone app for the Color of the Year when he and the Designers Fountain team were choosing their color palette.

“I chose blue because of the ocean — inspired from Los Angeles where Designers Fountain is located — plus I wanted a cool color. It worked well with the gold in my new fixtures, hung in the window.”

Whether incorporating a hue akin to Classic Blue into your product mix, or creating a dramatic display like Beard did, representing this color in your store in 2020 will position you as an on-trend destination.