By Cady Lang
December 5, 2018

Pantone has announced that Living Coral is the 2019 color of the year. The color authority has bestowed the honorable title on a special hue every December for the past 20 years, taking into account fashion, decorating, design and cultural trends, as well as “how colors can embody our collective experience and reflect what is taking place in our global culture at a moment in time,” according to press release from Pantone.

This year’s color, PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral, is an animating shade of orange with a golden undertone, which reflects the warmth, nourishment, and shelter of coral reefs to sea life. Pantone notes that this year’s selection symbolizes an “innate need for optimism and joyful pursuits” and “authentic and immersive experiences that enable connection and intimacy” — the latter carrying extra poignancy in a cultural landscape that is increasingly dominated by digital technology and social media.

Victor VIRGILE—Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

“Color is a language and color is inextricably linked to the culture,” Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, tells TIME of this year’s selection of the color coral. “We see the environment taking on an even greater role in the world we live in today for two primary reasons, one being how connected we are to technology. Because we are so connected to something that’s not real, so to speak, we really need to find that balance closely and intimately with something that is real and you don’t get more real than nature.”

Pressman says the second aspect is “our understanding of our natural resources…we look at the concerns of what’s taking place in nature, the depletion of natural resources. One of the things that we get from nature is energy. When we think about the shifting nature of our world, here’s a color that’s animating and life-affirming.”

The spirited shade of Living Coral has popped up everywhere from fashion runway shows to warm beauty looks, progressively on social media influencer posts and in consumer packaging. It brings to mind, recreation, leisure, celebration — aspects of life that are needed to balance the many challenges faced in the current day and age; one can easily imagine the dynamic color in a setting like a beach escape or the mellow rosy shade of a pair of Nantucket Reds trousers.

Fittingly, Living Coral also speaks to the urgency of respecting and preserving nature and natural resources. Coral reefs are an important part of the global environment, both protecting and nurturing marine ecosystems and helping with water filtration and marine life reproduction, among other things. With critical issues with climate change and other environmental threats taking center stage in recent months, this color and its connection to nature feels especially relevant, especially when you consider that some species of coral are listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act.

Living Coral follows 2018’s Pantone Color of the Year, PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet, a bright, vibrant purple that many felt honored the late musician Prince and hinted at the need for bipartisanship in the current political climate.

“The whole process is one that requires thoughtful consideration and analysis,” Pressman said. “It’s something we talk about on a year-round basis.”

Write to Cady Lang at cady.lang@timemagazine.com.

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