Courtesy of Pantone
December 8, 2021 7:00 PM EST

For the first time in the 22-year history of Pantone’s color of the year, the Pantone Institute has created a brand new color for the franchise, made just for 2022: PANTONE® 17-3938 Very Peri is a dynamic periwinkle blue with a vibrant, violet-red undertone designed to evoke the glowing touchscreens of the digital world and the creative possibilities of the future.

According to the institute, creating a new color for 2022 was itself symbolic of the changes taking place in the world right now, following an intense period of isolation and uncertainty. Like last year’s selection of two colors, Ultimate Gray and the sunny yellow Illuminating, the choice of Very Peri was largely influenced by the desire to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, environmental concerns and a larger reckoning with injustice and flaws within our current social structures.

To capture these influences, the institute blended blue (a color associated with faithfulness and constancy) with a hint of red (which often conveys energy and excitement) for an unexpectedly warm blue hue that communicates innovation and a fresh start.

Courtesy of Pantone

“It’s unusual to refer to blue as ‘happy,’ but when you add that red element to it, that’s exactly what happened,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the institute. “We felt it was so important to put together a color that encapsulated the feeling of newness.”

The concept of newness also speaks to the increasing influence of the virtual world, with the emergence of the Metaverse, recreational trends like VR gaming and esports and the growing popularity of cryptocurrency and NFTs. And since blue light is the element most often associated with technology and futurism in the visual culture of science fiction, not to mention our daily interactions with smartphones and computers, it comes as no surprise that Very Peri was selected to represent a time when our real and online lives are so prominently converging.

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“Understanding that the colors we see are now living in the digital space opened up a whole other gamut of possibilities for us,” says Laurie Pressman, vice president of the institute. “When we select the Pantone color of the year, it must be emblematic of what’s taking place at a moment in time. We were looking at a color that seamlessly moves between digital and physical.”

Courtesy of Pantone

Ultimately, this new shade—and even the act of creating it—is meant to represent what many are hoping for in 2022: a fresh start for a world that knows that old systems and habits can no longer stand up to the challenges of today, let alone the days to come.

“We’re entering this different time where we’re reimagining our future, trying to rewrite our lives and acknowledging all the unknown before us,” Pressman says. “Looking at the world with different eyes has brought us—and will continue to bring us—new solutions.”

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

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