Pantone’s Colour of The Year 2022 is a shade which, were you to close your eyes, you might find imprinted onto your inner eyelids: the ubiquitous blue/purple hue of Microsoft Teams, known to experts as Very Peri.
Many of us have become very familiar with this particular shade over the past couple of years as the pandemic accelerated remote working, taking us into an online workplace. And while the lilting musical bing-bong of the Teams call may well be the aural take-away of the year, the not-quite-Cadbury colour of our virtual workplace is certainly the visual one.
The Colour of the Year accolade has been recognised since 2000. According to Pantone, the decision process "requires thoughtful consideration and trend analysis," drawing inspiration from sources such as art, fashion, design, entertainment and travel. In a circular fashion, the Colour of the Year is also expected to have an influence on future trends and evolutions in graphic design, fashion and interior design.
So is the shade a sight for sore eyes, or a sorry excuse for an award-winning colour? I asked the team for their thoughts on Pantone’s choice …
Pantone say that Very Peri is all about encouraging creativity. As the office vs home-working debate rages around us, it’s interesting to me that Pantone and Microsoft have created this colour together and are embedding it throughout the Office 365 experience.
In one way, it’s a subtle nod towards the idea that you can still be creative through digital collaboration platforms. Describing it as ‘the happiest and warmest of all the blue hues’ might even make up for not being able to visit your trendy Shoreditch co-working space littered with succulents and thrifted art pieces.
On the other hand, it could be seen as a cynical marketing ploy that screams ‘don’t be mean to us, our mum says we’re just as cool as Zoom’
Pantone seem to have a canny knack of making you look at these shades and thinking ‘wow, that’s a unique, modern and on-trend colour. I might even paint my living room the same shade!’.
Then you realise it’s that same awful colour that we’ve all been staring at for the best part of two years. It’s precisely that reason that no designer will let it influence their work: anyone that sees it will immediately think of Teams – and all the experiences that come with it. Awkward calls, mistakenly being on mute and eternity spent communicating via our keyboards. This graphic designer will be steering well clear!
Every year, I think Pantone’s Colour of the Year is such a strange award. Colour of the Year – how can they decide this? But this year, it must have been a very easy decision.
When it comes to purple, no longer do I think of Quality Street, Ribena and old Spurs away kits. Teams was our world in 2021 and Very Peri was the wallpaper in the virtual room we lived in every single day. Giving it the title of Colour of the Year couldn’t feel more apt.
Is Pantone still relevant? Once, designers would sit hunched over small sample books searching for the exact shade of orange to ignite their project – before waiting anxiously for the printer’s results and hoping that they managed to get their chosen orange and not some burnt, muddy brown mess.
These days, I associate the Pantone brand with giftshop mugs and tea towels. Choosing ‘Teams Purple’ as Colour of the Year seems a bit lazy, too – just like when the Oxford English Dictionary allows broken-English buzzwords into its hallowed pages. Bah humbug.
Pantone’s Colour of the Year: what’s the point? The award claims to influence product development and purchasing decisions in multiple industries. But – personally – I see the winner and wonder what the reasoning was behind the choice.
I think this for approximately 37 seconds, then never think of it again for a whole 12 months. It’s a damning indictment that in 2022, after all these years of reliance, Adobe is removing Pantone libraries from all their creative products. Two stalwarts of the creative industry going their separate ways, in a bitter divorce, at a time when they should be finding new ways to invigorate and celebrate each other.
Then again, these two creative lovers still have life left in them. Who knows, absence can make the heart grow fonder. Merry Christmas Pantone and a Very Peri New Year!