Art & Design

Behind Pantone’s comforting, reliable 2020 Color of the Year

Pantone rings in a new decade with disarming choice for Color of the Year: Classic Blue (PANTONE 19-4052 TCX) — the color of the ocean, the blue inside your 14-piece Crayola box, the shade of your school uniform, and sometimes, the blue on the Philippine flag. While the aforementioned don’t follow Pantone’s specifications to a T, they all represent the same thing: calm, familiarity, reliability, and to a certain extent, obedience.

And it’s a choice that makes perfect sense, with science foreseeing a future ravaged by climate change, with civilians rioting and governments failing. “Blue, from an emotional, psychological standpoint, has always represented a certain amount of calm and dependability. It’s a color that you can rely on,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of Pantone’s Color Institute on AD. Classic Blue is a unifying blue that’s found all over the world, and present across time. It’s the color of the working class jeans, and the color found in fine China. It’s the color of technology — NASA, Facebook, Nokia, Ford, HP, Intel — and the color of nature. It’s the a color used by royalty, most present in classic art, and widely used as music album titles.

Pantone’s version of blue, a shade darker than its cyan, cerulean, and cornflower counterparts, appears understated, conservative, and humble. After Ultraviolet (2018) and Living Coral (2019), it’s a welcome departure from the performative and attention-seeking. It’s a sobering hue that, according to Pantone, “provides refuge” and fulfills a “desire for a dependable, stable foundation.”

Photo credit: “Starry Night Over the Rhone” from

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