• Entertainment
  • Art

Why Pantone’s 2023 Color of the Year Is an ‘Unconventional Shade for an Unconventional Time’

3 minute read

In a cultural moment shaped by countless challenges, Pantone’s color of the year for 2023 is a bold shade of red that speaks to the strength and vitality needed for forging a more positive future. PANTONE 18-1750 Viva Magenta, a vibrant and nuanced shade of crimson red, is a study in balances: drawing on both warm and cool tones, the color’s origins are grounded in nature with an electrifying hue that can be found in both the physical and virtual spheres, speaking to the diversity of our contemporary world.

Now in its 23rd year of selecting the an annual color, The Pantone Institute considered the onslaught of challenges that people have faced in recent years, like the COVID-19 pandemic, and how they have shaped perspective, values, and attitudes in finding a color for 2023.

“We chose this color because we felt that it was an unconventional shade for an unconventional time, something that could present us with a new vision,” Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the institute, tells TIME. Viva Magenta, Esieman notes, communicates power—but in an assertive, not aggressive way. “It’s a color that really vibrates with vim and vigor, that demonstrates a new signal of strength, which is something we all need for a more optimistic future.”

Courtesy of Pantone Institute

Eiseman, who described Viva Magenta as an “animated red, pulsating with movement,” points to nature as one of the main inspirations for the color selection this year, namely the cochineal dyes derived from insects, that have been used since as early as the second century BC to imbue rich red hues on fabrics and paper. With the increasing influence of technology in our contemporary world, which was strongly reflected in the touchscreen-inspired shade of last year’s color of the year, the dynamic periwinkle blue, Very Peri, having a reminder of the primordial world with a shade like Viva Magenta is a chance to revisit, honor, and reconnect with history, while imagining a brighter future.

Read more: Why Pantone Created a Whole New Color for the 2022 Color of the Year

“We’re hoping that the symbolism in this color will create a dynamic world that encourages experimentation,” Eiseman says. “One that leverages the virtual within the physical realm and emboldens our spirit to explore groundbreaking possibilities.”

While the color has deep connections to both the past and the present, the institute wants to be clear that it’s also a color that’s undeniably fitting for the present, a shade that encourages all people to live life boldly in the moment.

“The name of the color itself tells you this is a color to celebrate with, an exuberant color that promotes optimism and joy,” Eiseman said. “It’s what we call a boundless shade, a real standout statement. There’s no way you’re going to walk into a room if you’re wearing this color and not have attention go to you. It’s audacious. It’s witty and inclusive—it welcomes anyone and everyone with the same rebellious spirit.”

More from TIME

More Must-Reads from TIME

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