Purple rain, purple reign. Will you be bathing with Radiant Orchid this year?

Color of year 2014 in WILDDESGIN office

Will Pantone’s Radiant Orchid reign over the design world in 2014?

Though it may seem a bit abstract for people outside of the design community, Pantone’s Color of the year selection is an important yearly ritual for designers the world over. The 2014 choice is a very interesting one (for a host of reasons we’ll get into later): Radiant Orchid, a rich, dynamic purple with pink undertones. As Pantone describes it, “Radiant Orchid reaches across the color wheel to intrigue the eye and spark the imagination. An invitation to innovation, Radiant Orchid encourages expanded creativity and originality, which is increasingly valued in today’s society.” A more daring choice than last year’s selection, Radiant Orchid is already being incorporated into many top fashion and interior designers’ palettes.

Purple is traditionally the color of elegance and royalty, and is usually construed as intense and almost seductive; Radiant Orchid is certainly no exception. A vibrant fusion of blue, red, fuchsia and pink, it brings to mind the violent collision of distinct elements and the aesthetic chaos that often results. Indeed, Pantone’s selection of Radiant Orchid suggests that in 2014, purple tones are poised to intersect with the wider cultural zeitgeist in interesting ways. For instance, it tends to be one of the most versatile colors, able to interact smoothly with a wide range of hues, particularly with clothing.

radiant orchid in WILDDESIGN office Shanghai

We feel that, because Radiant Orchid is a mixed color, it works very well with low-saturation hues like turquoise, yellow sand and other pastels. The emotional tone of the color is, as many have noted, very feminine and elegant, and it has great potential for being used in decorative household elements. Of course, observing and analyzing color trends is one of our core competencies. But even when working in fields like medical design, before selecting a color scheme we first consider the quality, value and function that a color conveys. As Radiant Orchid is such a dynamic color, we can imagine it fitting in brilliantly as key visual element in branding or even interface design.

Radiant Orchid Takes Retail and Fashion by Storm

daily fashion in a radiant orchid color

Our resident watchdog knows Radiant Orchid when he sees it

“We also love the fact that it is a color that works well with all your seasonal color palettes,” says Geoffrey Henning, retailer J.C. Penney’s divisional vice president of design for women’s apparel. “Early in the season, it works with black and navy, then into shades of soft grays and winter whites, and then into high summer with graphic white and khaki. Because fashion evolves so quickly these days, women do, in fact, follow the ‘color of the year’ or general color trends as they appear at retail,” Henning continues. “Radiant orchid will definitely be a welcoming color to the female consumer as it is incredibly feminine and chic.”

Is the accelerating pace of evolution in the fashion and design world leading to wider use of more versatile, adaptable colors like Radiant Orchid, then? In China, colors can become part of broader, culture-wide trends, as we’ve discussed before with the infamous “tuhao jin” gold color that has come to stand for the ostentatious luxury tastes of the country’s newly wealthy.

Orchids in a gold flower pot, a classic Chinese style choice

Orchids in a gold flower pot, a classic Chinese style choice

In contrast to the flashy wealth and prosperity that gold tends to suggest, in Chinese culture purple is associated with royalty (much as in the West), historically wealthy families, and even the Emperor. Beijing’s famous Forbidden City, for instance, was the historical home of the Emperor is often referred to as “紫禁城” (zi jin cheng) or “Purple Forbidden City” to emphasize the exclusive, imperial nature of the place. Historically, purple is an intense, mysterious color in China, and its use in Peking Opera productions usually accompanies characters contemplating difficult situations or settling disputes.

Even though it’s still mid-January, Pantone’s choice of Radiant Orchid as the color of the year is already making waves in the fashion world, demonstrating the importance of color trends to the global design community.

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Muhan: 8 years living and working in Germany and recently come to Shanghai. From a product designer became a blogger, I am always trying to catch up, explore and learn from the fast- changing world.

Originally written by Muhan Zhang, 17. January 2014. Last updated 15. May 2023


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