The ‘Wall Street Journal’ Tells Us What Next Year’s ‘HOT’ Color Will Be. Uh huh. I Said ‘The Wall Street Journal.’

A Jonathan Adler Design in...Honeysuckle
A Jonathan Adler Design in…Honeysuckle

<sarcasm>That bastion of all things fashionable, The Wall Street Journal, </sarcasm> reports that 2011 has a hot color all its own: Pantone 18-2120 TCX, or in non-artist-speak, “honeysuckle.” Yep. The Wall Street Journal. Honeysuckle. News.

I so love it when I get the basis of a post from the iconic newspaper read by dudes in suits on the train, and published by Dow Jones & Co. Earlier this year, the venerable business godhead presented me with another great story: how hard it is for bands to come up with great names. My first thought is inevitably, “Do hardcore Journal readers just skip over stuff like this?”

Courtesy of Pantone
The original Pantone Matching System fan guide. As reflected in the colors on cover, the 60s were all about bright, bold psychedelia, Peter Max and the Beatles.

But, back to pink. Yes, because  Pantone 18-2120 TCX is pink. Hot-house flower pink. Mad Men pink. This passage reads as if penned for one of the glossy fashion tomes, not the paper where people check the Forex and read about grain futures: “A sherbety shade of pink, with a hint of red and orange zest, honeysuckle is seen by designers as a pick-me-up at a time when many people have had their fill of misfortune.”

Gosh, the layers in that one sentence. How poetic. How ironic. The paper that reports day in and day out on our financial markets and the crushing recession describes the color as having happy qualities that help when people are down. And this isn’t just a quick blurb — it runs 1,500 words.

Crate & Barrel's Pink Chair
Crate & Barrel’s Pink Chair; is it Honeysuckle or Pink Flambe?

What does it mean to us as designers, and you as consumers? Lotsa pink stuff, from food processors to throw pillows, from nail polish to chairs. “Some designers have chosen variants within the hot-pink family,” WSJ notes. “Crate & Barrel used both honeysuckle and a similar Pantone shade called “pink flambé” in everything from furniture to dishware. Nanette Lepore calls her orange-tinged version of the color “hot melon.” Ken Downing, fashion director for Neiman Marcus, referred to “orange coral” when he described his pick for the color of the spring 2011 season.”

Also straight from the article: “It’s a very ‘Mad Men’ pink. It’s like the lipstick our mothers wore,’ says Tom Mirabile, head of global trends and design at Lifetime Brands Inc., the company behind Mikasa, Cuisinart and other houseware brands. “There’s a retro aspect to it that’s going to be very popular.”

A Honeysuckle Dress from Cynthia Steffe
A Honeysuckle Dress from Cynthia Steffe

“There’s an innate optimism to pink,” says Jonathan Adler, an interior and housewares designer who is using hot shades of pink widely in his 2011 collections. “As we speak, I’m wearing a hot pink shirt,” he says.

“The honeysuckle color evokes nostalgic feelings of summertime, says Leatrice Eiseman, a color psychologist who has been director of Pantone’s Color Institute for 25 years” — now THERE’S a job. “Strategically, colors of the year are supposed to help sell all manner of products and packages. ‘We also want [people] to stop and say, “Oh, neat color. Maybe I need to buy those plates,'” Ms. Eiseman says.

Here’s my hope for 2011: we can all go out and buy a bunch of cool pink stuff, cheer up, and watch the economy come back to life; we all have new clients who want to sell pink stuff; everyone’s happy, prosperous and unafraid to wear pink. I’ll take that pink Cynthia Steffe for starters. Oh, I mean that happy honeysuckle dress.

The more fascinating part of the article for us was the whole “color of the year” idea from Pantone, and the great background on how Pantone books developed, since we have four floating around here.

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