Designers pick their own colour of the year for 2016

15-3919 Serenity and 13-1520 Rose Quartz were chosen as Pantone’s ‘Colour of the Year’ for 2016 so we asked designers which colour they think will best represent 2016. 




Chris Harrison, founder, Harrison Agency
Chris Harrison, founder, Harrison Agency

“When my kids were younger, favourite colours was a hot topic for long car journeys. My answer to them would always be “My favourite colour changes everyday! And today it’s [insert colour here].” If you want to make a designer sweat, ask them what their favourite colour is… Going to have to bite the bullet and say fluorescent yellow. And if I were pushed for a Pantone number I’d say a double hit of 803 please. I walked past a piece of graffiti in Brighton this morning, it was an anarchy symbol sprayed in fluorescent yellow. And that is my favourite colour for (Tuesday 8 December) 2016.”

Chris Harrison work


Emily Penny
Emily Penny, co-founder of Colourful Design Strategy

“Pantone’s Colour of the Year is a bit like astrology. 2016 will be year of the Monkey. And the year of Rose Quartz and Serenity. It’s very clever to create a narrative around one or two colours and start a conversation within your target market. In fact, I’m fascinated by Pantone’s business model and brand. From a colour matching system it’s become the authority on colour and a huge brand with all sorts of products, services and branded merchandise. Colour is utterly fascinating because it’s both a science and an art. What Pantone has done so well is to do the technical bit brilliantly, but also to understand its creative audience and invite them in to enjoy colour. Pantone mugs and bags are old hat. But Pantone hotels – who saw that coming? And Pantone cosmetics – really? You have to admire its Lego-like appetite for ubiquity. My colour for 2016? Prediction or promotion, democratising or selling out, how could I possibly disagree with the experts. It’s just so much fun to find out what they choose and why and see a wide audience talking about design. I’m going to go with Pantone 2016 to represent subjectivity; is it a flesh tone to mean transparency or a cosmetic colour standing for artifice?”

Pantone 2016

Dana Robertson, creative director, Neon Creative
Dana Robertson, creative director, Neon Creative

“Hmm, not sure I share Pantone’s somewhat utopian view of 2016. Call me an old-misery guts, but – looking at the news – I don’t expect peace, harmony and tranquillity to be the predominant shade in the year to come. What will be? Maybe the best we can hope for, if we’re looking for a combination, is honest black and white. But, if I can just shake off the grumpy mood provoked by Pantone’s escapist nonsense, I’ll be hoping to see a lot of my very favourite colour, only available from Mother Nature: the iridescent shimmer of sunset meeting sea – whenever I can steal a weekend away with my board.”



Robin Howie
Robin Howie, founder, Fieldwork Facility

Why pick one colour when the Olympic colours aim to stand for all? With Rio 2016 around the corner we’ll all be encouraged to re-connect with London 2012’s optimism retold through Rio’s vibrant lens. How will the Olympic colours play out across 2016 though?

Blue: Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn they’ve all grown up, and have as much edge as Barclays or Ford. While not a bad thing to be part of the establishment ‘behaving blue’ is ripe to be rethought.  

Black: the Uber-isation of everything will continue to bring convenience-luxury to your fingertips, heralded through black and greys.   

Red: The new go to colour for start-ups wanting to transition towards being a major disruptor and join Airbnb and Netflix’s ranks; red is the new blue apparently.

Yellow: Perhaps ancillary yellow will pop up on streets across cities and announce tech’s move towards taking on civic infrastructure, (see Hyperloop or Sidewalk Labs). 

Green: CitymapperWhatsapp and Zipcar are a few of the apps consistently making my phone glow vivid green. Green has become the new signifier of mobility and access. 

p.s I’m colourblind, make what you want from this.  

What colour would you choose for 2016? Let us know in the comments below…

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  • Sam Barone December 12, 2015 at 6:32 pm

    Anything’s got to be better than the “liver soaked in milk” colour Pantone picked last year!

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