Why Emerald Green? Pantone’s Vision – 2013

An image from Pantone’s “Power of Green” Webinar

We’ve already done allot on Emerald, the newly announced color of the year 2013, but as soon as the pronouncement of The Color of The Year has been made, the hum begins. Everyone wants to know the reasoning that under-pins Pantone’s color selection process; in this case, of Emerald 1756-41. And why not?

image from Pantone’s “Power of Green” Webinar

We’re going to see allot of it in the color year to come so an explanation is in order, whether or not we love it. As you look at Pantone’s images as we go, see if you can identify the common thread of continuity to all these images – aside of the fact, yes, that they are all green! You won’t have to dive very deep, but I’ll save it for the end…

Laurie Pressman, VP of Pantone LLC presided over today’s webinar, entitled “The Power of Green”; a vision and visual allegory of the impetus behind Pantone’s choice of Emerald 1756-41 for the coveted color of the year slot. How is it done? Were there other color families in the running, was it a close contest? The latter was not revealed, but it’s safe to say that other color groups were on the table for discussion – as a matter of fact, it’s safe to say that all the color groups in the Fashion Trends Forecast have been on the table for discussion over the past couple of years. So why Emerald?

image from Pantone’s “Power of Green” Webinar

Pantone selections are always a reflection of the visual language of the age we are living in, and since the 1990’s green themes have been a prominent umbrella, covering our many justifiable concerns about the preservation of our planet and its rapidly changing climate.

As Pressman quipped, it was in the early 1970’s Kermit ushered in a decade still reeling from the social unrest of the ’60’s pronouncing “it isn’t easy being green” – and sadly we proved him right. Rising levels of VOC’s and Methane gas from products that underpinned our lifestyles and fueled by the fast-foods we loved to eat began contributing to the thinning of our atmosphere, setting the stage for climate changes that are becoming harder and harder to ignore.

image taken in the wake of Hurricane Sandy by National Geographic

Green has grown beyond any trend personified by a single color family to envelop the way that many of us are choosing to live. I am proud to say that the Design community has taken a front seat in this initiative, making LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) their paradigm for product selection across the trade – and interior designers are not alone in industries going green – it’s difficulty to identify an industry not actively opting to adopt more planet-friendly ways and means.

image from Pantone’s “Power of Green” Webinar

The green prerogative is not limited to industry – most of us are carrying green into healthier decisions about food and cosmetics as well – and those choices are mirrored in the packaging of those sought-after products that offer us responsible and feel-good life choices.

image from Pantone’s “Power of Green” Webinar

Psychologically, green can be attributed to assuaging stress; actually reducing both stress related hormones and the heart rate, by the mere presence of this health-evoking color family. In addition, green plants enrich and oxygenate the atmosphere and are even becoming the choices of building exteriors in the form of vertical gardens,

image from Pantone’s “Power of Green” Webinar

…whose popularity have spread exponentially over the past few years.

image from Pantone’s “Power of Green” Webinar

Interiors, and interior furnishings are incorporated foliage prints and colors, undoubtedly to capitalize on the feel-good psychological attributes of the color green.

Flora Ottoman from Joss & Main – Click to see it

As Pantone watched the green revolution, they began to narrow their lens to discover which green was best suited to serve as the flagship of 2013.  The team of global experts put their collective heads together, lead by Lautrice Eisman incorporating many of the great minds in color and polling individuals who spearhead designs reflected in sought-after brands that we look to, to help us differentiate our own individual styles and express the way we are feeling about color, form, finish and line in apparel in commercial and residential interiors,

image from Pantone’s “Power of Green” Webinar

image from Pantone’s “Power of Green” Webinar

tiles and stone,

image from Pantone’s “Power of Green” Webinar

the cars we dive, displays in stores, and so much more.

Emerald Toaster – image from Pantone’s “Power of Green” Webinar

image from Pantone’s “Power of Green” Webinar

These and many other areas had glommed onto emerald green, riveting Pantone’s attention beginning several seasons ago. The polling process of trend-setters brings to bare the color choices that are key influences in their current collections, so that by the time that Emerald products roll out onto store shelves the pronouncement of color of the year is marks a seemingly intuitive introduction.

image from Pantone’s “Power of Green” Webinar

Emerald was also making appearances in those menus that makes so many people green with envy; the red carpet, films, designers bags and luggage…and of course, shoes, high-end jewelry,

Gold and Emerald jewelry image from Pantone’s “Power of Green” Webinar

influential make-up brands,

Sephora eye Shadow – image from Pantone’s “Power of Green” Webinar

and nail polishes.

Even Green hair has made its way into the trend foray;

image from Pantone’s “Power of Green” Webinar

a fad not seen since the 1960’s – and hip-hop fashion, that prides itself on its edgy look,

though this Pantone image looked an awful lot like Meg Ryan wearing MC Hammer’s pants (which she had the good grace to avoid, even in the design-challenged 1990’s…).

Emerald is making its mark in the kitchen, housewares and table stories…

Chevy has offered up its new Emerald Camero as a 2013 alternative to the Jaguar’s ticket price that requires a whole different category of green – and may actually be the one Emerald check on my wish list for 2013…

The new Emerald Chevy Camero – image from Pantone’s “Power of Green” Webinar

In an initiative to rival a Dickensonian epiphany, Pantone polls the present, future, and yes – looks to color trends past to mine connect the dots of inspiration to dig for color-trend gold. Emerald has an illustrious past in the annals of color history…

Art Nuveau era diamond rings

Emeralds were the wealthy fathers’ choice bequest of choice to daughters of old, symbolic of chastity – and like the coincidental nature of most old wives tales, it sometimes went off as planned – or not, as Pressman joked, showing this painting. I had to laugh – not at Laurie Pressman, or the painting but at the universal misunderstanding – here’s a little known fact:

This Renaissance painting (below) by Dutch artist Jan Van Eyck is not a depiction of a pregnant woman. It’s believed amongst art historians to be the wedding portrait of wealthy Tuscan merchant Giovanni di Nicolao Arnolfini, and his wife Giovanna Cenami. The couple were not actually married until 13 years later, and when poor Giovanna died she was childless.  In the painting Giovanna is portrayed in a style of dress common amongst women of that era. Her gesture (with her left hand on her stomach) may be an expression of the couple’s wish to produce an heir – a little art history aside…back to Emerald…

The webinar offered lots of other emerald history –  Emerald was a favorite in the stylish and treacherous court of Henry VIII, worn (below) by Natale Portman in “The Other Boleyn Girl“; as accurately noted by Pressman, not quite a dead ringer in hue, but worn beautifully by Natale Portman in the same shimmering color family. Natalie is neither the first or the only lovely actress to don green velvet on a historical movie set – who could forget Scarlett O’Hara up-cycling those emerald green velvet drapes from the ruins of her beloved to strike a convincing pose to woo Rett in Gone With The Wind? Oh, Scarlet….

Scarlet strikes a pose in up-cycled emerald drapes in Gone with the Wind – image via Pantone Power of Green Webinar

The influence of emerald has waxed and waned throughout the 20th century, spanning influences from Faberge and Tiffany,

to cubist works of arts in the 20’s,

A Cubist Painting by Malevitch, with an emphasis on Emerald Green – image shown during Pantone’s Power of Green webinar

The path leading to Emerald City in the 1930’s release of the ground-breaking technicolor film version of The Wizard Of Oz,

Wizard of Oz images from Pantone’s Power of Green Webinar

and was resurrected in 2011 in emerald brilliance for Broadway’s “Wicked”.

The Set of Wicked via Colorstudioinc

Edward Hopper favored somber emerald hues in his the 1940’s paintings of common public spaces.

Paintings by Edward Hopper favoring Emerald tones – image shown during Pantone’s Power of Green webinar

The first wave of Indian influence swept design in the ’60’s, giving Emerald a more lively turn about the design forum.

Vintage ’60’s Indian inspired fabrics – image shown during Pantone’s Power of Green webinar

Pantone itself also levied its own brand of emerald influence on innovation-centric ’60’s design in the form of paper dresses – I want one! (Thanks God smoking is now taboo).

paper dresses – image shown during Pantone’s Power of Green webinar

Andy Warhol was yet another painter influenced by the richness of Emerald green, favoring emerald hues in several works.

image shown during Pantone’s Power of Green webinar

It was in the 1980’s as well, that Ralph Lauren tossed his hat into the design ring to resurrect emerald as a sought-after trend…

image shown during Pantone’s Power of Green webinar

In the 1990’s emerald morphed into more citrus-flavored greens.

But deeper greens began to resurface in the 2000’s, in the form of the 1980’s pine shades, lightening and morphing into jewel tones, which one again pushed emerald green into the lime-light of design. It was an emerald that Steve Jobs selected as the green member of his jewel tone showcase of apple G3 computers.

Apple ad – image shown during Pantone’s Power of Green webinar

Feeling a little green?

So having gone full circle at last, have you spotted the common feature to all these incarnation of emerald?

All the images featured are very dark. The best way to lighten up this lush if petulant shade is with, well – light.

Don’t forget the light! If you’re using this color on walls, hit it with an array of recessed, track, floor and table lamps and throw in a chandelier! It’s a gorgeous color, but left in the dark, it becomes depressive pretty quickly. For other ways to tame this challenging hue, quick the article link below – and try on a little emerald for 2013!

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