“HINT: It’s inspired by the natural world’s ability to adapt and regenerate.”

That was a major paint manufacturer, announcing that it would shortly name its 2022 Color of the Year.

We tend to associate the term Color of the Year with Pantone, but many companies offer competing nominees, trying to predict the trends of the forthcoming year. Some of these companies are thinking primarily of wall covering, others of furniture, still others of fashion and advertising, but as usual a color that is trendy in one of these areas is likely to be so in the others.

The predictions sometimes turn out wrong but more often they are at least somewhat correct. So I thought it useful to take a look at what’s being forecast for our tastes in this most challenging of years. I’ve looked for all the 2022 Colors of the Year I could find—eleven of them—and how the companies choosing them explained their decisions.

So, what do you think the choices were? Would it be substantially different than in any other year?

Answer: yes, absolutely, both in how many companies chose almost the same thing, and in the class of colors chosen.

in this unhappy year, nobody has picked anything warm, which I suspect is unprecedented. 9 of the 11 choices are ambiguous, in the sense that one of the AB channels is positive and the other negative, as opposed to an optimistic red or a warm yellow where both are positive, or a cool aqua/teal where both are negative. Only one, perhaps two, of the colors would be considered assertive.

I’ll let these pandemic colors, and their advocates, speak for themselves, but here’s the summary: six greens, two magentas, one purplish blue, one light blue, and one near-neutral. I can only show ten samples, because the eleventh was described by its advocate, Etsy, only in words: “Symbolizing harmony and growth, along with royalty and refinement, emerald green is the perfect color to remind us to find balance this year.”

Your guess is as good as mine for what emerald green means, but we don’t have to guess at the other five greens shown below. They’re all quite similar: dull, yellowish, not reminding us of vegetation at all. Definitely not the hues one would consider uplifting; in my days as a retoucher my colleagues might have referred to any of them as puke green.

Five vendors chose closely similar greens as Color of the Year.

Five vendors chose closely similar greens as Color of the Year.

Here’s what the vendors have to say about them.

Breezeway, from the paint company Behr: “A relaxed and uplifting sea glass green expressing peace and tranquility for forward movement.”

Evergreen Fog, from paint company Sherwin-Williams: “The pandemic certainly influenced where we are with colors. Consumers were seeking nourishing, meaningful, reassuring, and healing…organic, nature-inspired palettes like warm brown and cool green tones are essential to achieving a restorative state and satisfying a need for energizing positivity.”

Guacamole, from paint company Glidden: “This spirited yet soothing green brings an organic energy to any space, which is needed because we all know you’ve probably killed at least three plants this year.”

October Mist, from paint company Benjamin Moore: “This gently shaded sage quietly anchors a space, while encouraging individual expression through color.”

Olive Sprig, from paint company PPG: “A midtone, neutral, lush green with an organic green undertone.”

On to the non-greens, the vendor descriptions of which break new ground in pomposity. Be warned. I return the floor to them.

The five non-green choices, still with no warm color.

The five non-green choices, still without a single warm color.

Cream Moonstone, from Roommates Decor, which specializes in colorful wallpaper, but here offers us something completely bland, at odds with their reputation: “This is a color that provides a restorative calm, while also offering a refreshing sense of energy and optimism to lead the way in 2022. It’s a versatile hue that can be both the gentle hero of a space–with a stylish neutral palette throughout–or something that plays a supportive role to complement other colors. It’s also unexpected–people often associate us with our bold, bright patterns, and we’re excited to show that peel and stick wallpaper can also yield spaces that promote calm and relaxation.”

Bright Skies, from AkzoNobel, a Dutch paint and coatings firm: “The airy, light blue feels like the breath of fresh air we all need. After a spell of feeling shut in, people are craving expansion. Extensive global trend research conducted by a team of in-house paints and coatings color experts and international design professionals reveals that we want open air, connections to the great outdoors and a fresh approach to everything.”

Cosmos, from Robert Kaufman Fabrics: “This extraplanetary purple embodies the majesty and mystery of the universe.” Wow.

Orchid Flower, from WGSN, a London-based consumer trend forecast firm: “Has an intense, hyper-real and energizing quality that will stand out in both real-life and digital settings. It is also versatile enough to work across seasons and continents. In a challenging time, this saturated magenta tone will be a great way to create a sense of positivity and escapism.”

Very Peri, (short for Periwinkle, from the most well-known authority of all): “A new Pantone color whose courageous presence encourages personal inventiveness and creativity.”

And there you have vendor ideas of what constitutes courageous, intense, energizing, extraplanetary, organic. uplifting, relaxed, and soothing in this challenging year. Maybe so, but I find them depressing and at best, ambiguous. We’ll soon see whether they are, in fact, the colors of the year.

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Educational and cultural institutions whose students and patrons could make use of my two latest books now have an opportunity to obtain them in quantity at no charge, courtesy of the members of the Applied Color Theory group.

This offer is good for January only and involves the books Modern Photoshop Color Workflow and On the Law of Simultaneous Contrast of Colors. We offer only full, unbroken cases of 12 copies of one title or the other. In principle we are only interested in shipping within the United States, as we have found postal service and custom practices elsewhere to be unreliable in the age of Covid, and in any case international shipping would be quite expensive, since each case weighs around 15 kg.

The offer came about because I have some minor out-of-pocket expenses associated with running the ACT group. Certain group members volunteered to reimburse me, through a donation function that the group host offers. I said that group membership had always been free and I had no desire to change that, nor would I wish to profit off any such voluntary donations. I said that if the donations exceeded my personal expenses, then they should be used to further education and appreciation of color.

They did substantially exceed that figure. Nobody having offered a better idea, I’ll use that money to ship cases of books to schools, museums, etc. who might need them and that I’d donate the books myself at their actual cost of production.

The two books for which cases are available are quite different. One is hard-core processing technique that appeals only to serious users of Photoshop and related programs. The other is an updated version of one of the great classics in our field. No computer knowledge is necessary. It discusses fundamental principles of arranging colors attractively and is interdisciplinary. Painting, photography, weavings, fashion, logo design, museums, gardens, interior decoration, typography, theaters, and even stained glass: if it involves the use of color, this book offers compelling insights on which ones to pick.

Those interested in receiving these cases of books, please message me offline with a description of what they would be used for. I’m DMargulis (at) aol.com.


Ed Benguiat 1927-2020

by Dan Margulis on November 1, 2020

On October 15 we lost the most prolific type designer of the second half of the twentieth century, Ed Benguiat, after 92 years of enjoying life. Having designed hundreds of faces, he was well adapted to any style. Most of his works were in the style of the 70s and 80s, which is not popular today. So we rarely see his ITC Souvenir or ITC Tiffany or ITC Bookman, which were ubiquitous in print advertising 40 years ago.

But that flexibility served him well as a general designer, which is why he has relevance to anyone involved in the graphic arts. He was a creator of corporate logos, for example, second only in prominence to the legendary Paul Rand. And, in one noted case, his adaptability enabled him to outdo Rand himself. It came when Rand was hired to retool the logo for Ford Motor Co. in the 1970s. His effort was (justifiably) rejected by the company, which then hired Ed Benguiat to design the logo that still graces Ford vehicles today.

I did not know Ed particularly well, but had great respect for his work, and wanted to post something. Since I needed to feature his typefaces, and also show several versions of the Ford logo, it wouldn’t work to post the material in this blog. Instead, I refer you to a PDF of what I had to say. Here’s my Ed Benguiat obituary.


Test Your Correction Skills!

by Dan Margulis September 24, 2020

If you’d like to check out how your color correction skills stack up to those of others, including some top professionals, my online discussion group recently finished a series of case studies in which group members were asked to submit their versions of some images chosen to be at least mildly challenging/interesting. We did one […]

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Chevreul Meets Margulis: Now Available!

by Dan Margulis February 29, 2020

My update of M.E. Chevreul’s classic text On the Law of Simultaneous Contrast of Colors is finally available online. It was printed in late January; members of my discussion group were able to order it direct from the pressroom, which they did in surprising quantity. Our first shipment to Amazon sold out in four hours. […]

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Announcing a Modernized Classic

by Dan Margulis February 5, 2020

This is a pre-announcement of a book that is about to come on the market. You can’t order it for a few days yet, but you need to be on the lookout for the offer, because it’s going to be time-limited. After that, it will be available only on Amazon, which sometimes runs out of […]

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Applied Color Theory Group Finds a New Home

by Dan Margulis November 24, 2019

The Applied Color Theory list, which discusses matters of interest to my students, friends, and colleagues, has been operating since 1999. For almost the past twenty years it has resided at yahoogroups. After many years of deterioration, yahoogroups recently decided it would now become e-mail only, no images allowed. We have therefore moved the group […]

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Unexpected and Unpleasant Surprises (The MIT 5k dataset 9)

by Dan Margulis September 2, 2019

Previous postings evaluating how the Picture Postcard Workflow did compared to the retouching team on the MIT dataset established the obvious, that neither PPW nor any other workflow is the perfect solution every time. The question is, how do identify when PPW shouldn’t be expected to be better? Sometimes the image simply doesn’t have enough potential for […]

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Copyright: When two photos are too close for comfort

by Dan Margulis April 15, 2019

The college basketball playoffs in the United States have just ended. Basketball sets the theme for the apparent resolution of a longstanding issue involving photography, and by implication many other areas of design. If without permission, you re-use someone else’s photograph, you may be looking at paying for copyright infringement. This is assuming that you […]

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R.W.G. Hunt 1923-2018

by Dan Margulis February 26, 2019

I recently learned of the loss of an outstanding contributor to the practical side of color science. Robert W.G. Hunt died in October at age 95. He was a prolific writer, but he is best known for his massive text The Reproduction of Colour, now in its sixth edition. Most of it is quite geeky, […]

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