In case you haven’t heard, Pantone chose two hues for its 2016 Color(s) of the Year: Rose Quartz and Serenity. Or, as I like to call them, pink and baby blue.
According to Pantone the two hues should be melded, gradient-style, so that the pink fades into a soft purple then the blue.
“As consumers seek mindfulness and well-being as an antidote to modern-day stresses, welcoming colors that psychologically fulfill our yearning for reassurance and security are becoming more prominent,” Pantone’s website states. “Joined together, Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.”
Whether these annual naming of colors are predictions or suggestions, I’ll never know. Sometimes they seem to track with what’s happening in interior design. Other times, not so much.
Local designer John Rufenacht wasn’t even aware that Pantone had selected the two colors for 2016 until I asked him about it. Pantone, by the way, is an international authority on color. Paint companies such as Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore and Farrow and Ball also select colors of the year, though rather than selecting just one, they offer entire palettes.
Rufenacht thinks it’s a marketing tool to encourage new buying.
Accessory markets, housewares and fashion do pay attention, and you will see magazine articles proclaiming them king for the year, he notes. “The world needs a constant reminder of what you have is not ‘with it.’ You need to refresh, upgrade, becoming someone that matters as YOU are in the know.”
As he sees it, color is color and using them well in design is a gift.
“Our mood, our entire being can be altered by color,” he says. “We have been in this white, neutral cave for so long because no one has character, individuality, self-confidence or self-expression, hence these colors (rose quartz and serenity blue) are a small step forward. They’re not too strong or bold, just a few shades from those off-whites. Perhaps it will give some a little courage to throw a new pillow on their off-white sofa and feel new and cool.”
Undoubtedly, rose quartz and serenity — especially when viewed together — will conjure the twinkly notes of a lullaby. A few years ago, I would have scoffed at them.
But I’ve come to believe they are versatile and palatable and that pretty much any color can be used in interior design if — and this is an important caveat — you know what you’re doing.
As proof, the stalwart magazine, House Beautiful, recently published a book called “Pink,” which explores the girly hue and its use in interior design, calling it “a fresh, fabulous and fashionable color that’s perfect for any room,” and noting “it can go glam and high style, provide sophisticated refinement, or balance out a too-masculine decor.”
The pages show dozens of shades of pink used in a wide array of ways, ranging from being splashed across walls as a major statement to serving as small yet eye-catching accents. It’s mixed with color combos such as teal and silver, mustard and dark gray, burnt orange and sea foam green.
The former apartment/office of local designer Kelee Katillac is featured in the book.
Katillac is a longtime practitioner of holistic color theory. She makes color choices that affect how we feel emotionally and physically. And Pantone’s annual choice, she says, is connected to the zeitgeist, or what Carl Jung called the universal subconscious.
“It’s an energy field that seems to reflect the feelings, thoughts and needs of the masses,” she says. “Or, one could say that Pantone’s power of suggestion in making these forecasts is the driving force in selling colors that become trends through products and designs that influence many.”
Specifically, shades of pink such as rose quartz promote compassion and kindness, she says, while serenity “provides a quiet counterbalance to outside forces that make us feel unsure and even fearful.”
Katillac has used similar colors for the past several years, both in her own homes and that of clients. She recently worked with real estate agent Mickey Coulter, whom she describes as a style-savvy guy who loves mid-century modern silhouettes, and incorporated as the centerpiece of his living room a William Rainey painting with a palette that includes heavy doses of rose, peach, orchid and gold.
“To keep the palette anchored with masculine energy I used quartz gray, winter white, copper and blue greens,” she says. “The warm art acts like a bright silk tie with a gray wool suit.”
Rufenacht is also using a shade very close to rose quartz on a project for a client.
“It could be called pink,” he says. “Men will run!”
He suggests using pastel shades with other pastels, though you can mix stronger shades of colors with pastels, but it requires a very good color sense.
“The best rule of thumb is to use stronger shades together and pastels with other pastels,” he adds. “You will have a stronger sense of unity and coordination.”
When using pinks and blues together, Katillac suggests leaning heavily on one and adding just a touch of the other, then incorporating accents that diffuse the perception that blue is only masculine and pink is only feminine.
“Yellows, greens and deep reds can work as foils for pastels,” she says. “Brown, pewter, and warm whites keep it classical and graphic.”