When dictionaries around the world started announcing their “Word of the Year”, 2018 looked like it would end on a depressing note. After all, “single-use” – Collins Dictionary’s pick, “toxic” – the choice of Oxford Dictionary, and “misinformation”, Dictionary.com’s selection, are not exactly the most upbeat words in English.
But now we have “Living Coral”, Pantone’s 2019 Color of the Year, to save the day.
The Pantone Color Institute, based in the US, announced on Dec 6 that it had chosen this golden orange hue as its color of the year. In the words of the institute’s press release, the color, “symbolizes our innate need for optimism and joyful pursuits”.
It’s true that there is something magical about orange. It conjures up the image of a sunrise or a warm campfire in the woods. It reminds us of what Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) wrote in Concerning the Spiritual in Art: “Orange is like a man, convinced of his own powers.”
However, to speak of human “powers” in the same breath as “Living Coral” might make us think. After all, the world’s coral reefs are dying – thanks to human “powers”.
“The announcement comes at a time when rising water temperatures and human activities continue to harm coral reefs around the world,” said VOA News. And with the end of the coral reefs “as living, breathing things” will come the end of the color.
In other words, the color, which Pantone chose to set the tone for the coming year, no longer exists, at least naturally, in many parts of the world.
“Perhaps in troubled times we crave the reassurance of a color that is warm, natural and solid,” Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of Pantone, told The Guardian.
But we need more than just “reassurance” and “optimism”. We need the resolve to make necessary changes, so that we can continue to see Living Coral in real coral reefs as well as on Pantone’s color palette.
Only then will we be able to say that Living Coral has truly “saved the day”.
(Translator & Editor: Wang Xingwei AND Ji Yuan)