Emerald, Colour of the Year 2013

Colour of the year 2013

Do you like the colour green? That’s lucky because Pantone has given the green light: Emerald is the official Colour of the Year for 2013.

Here is what it looks like:

PANTONE® 17-5641 Emerald, a lively, radiant, lush green

PANTONE® 17-5641 Emerald, a lively, radiant, lush green

For more than a decade, Pantone has been selecting the Colour of the Year. This choice has influenced product development and has set the trend and purchasing decisions in most design industries, including fashion, interior and industrial design, graphic design and cosmetics.

PANTONE 17-5641 Emerald replaces Tangerine Tango which was the Colour of the Year for 2012. Tangerine Tango, PANTONE 17-1463, was described as a “spirited, reddish orange, [providing] the energy boost we needed to recharge and move forward”.

In 2013, Emerald will be the one. According to Pantone, “Emerald, a vivid, verdant green, enhances our sense of well-being further by inspiring insight, as well as promoting balance and harmony”. And in fact, designers have already taken the colour green to the catwalk for their Spring 2013 collection.

So how does Pantone select the winner from the other colours of the rainbow? It is certainly not a random choice. Apparently Pantone carefully surveys colour trends around the world, in the fashion and couture markets, in the cinematographic as well as in the leisure and entertainment industries, the arts and popular travel destinations. Technology, new textures, textiles, materials and the way the colour interacts with them, all contribute to the choice.

The colour green brings to mind a few images: a well-known currency, growth, luxury, jewellery, sophistication and nature. Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute® said, “Green is the most abundant hue in nature – the human eye sees more green than any other colour in the spectrum. As it has throughout history, multifaceted Emerald continues to sparkle and fascinate.”

The colour green is fascinating and abundant in the Powerhouse Museum’s collection too. I had a look at the Collection: green is and was a fashionable colour through time for various reasons. Here are a few examples:

Swimwear by Speedo - Powerhouse Museum collection. Photography by Marinco Kojdanovski

Swimwear by Speedo – Powerhouse Museum collection. Photography by Marinco Kojdanovski

These two swimming costumes were designed and made by Speedo for the Australian team competing at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. Green is one of Australia’s official National Colours (together with gold) to represent the country in international sporting events. In a proclamation dated 19 April 1984, the Governor-General, Sir Ninian Stevens, formally established that green (and gold) “shall be the national colours of Australia for use on all occasions on which such colours are customarily used.”  The exact green used for printing is Pantone Matching System number 348C. Not quite the 2013 Colour of the Year, but close.

Interestingly, green was also the colour used to represent the Europe float in the Arrivals segment during the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000. It was a direct reference to the green Olympic ring – a symbol of the European continent.

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Green outfit by Norma Moriceau – Powerhouse Museum collection

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Green outfit by Norma Moriceau – Powerhouse Museum collection

Here are two green costumes designed by Norma Moriceau for this event. The make-up for the wearer of the costume, which was an integral part of the overall look, consisted of a white face with a green glitter ‘mask’ painted over the eyes.

Green double bass by Eamon D'Arcy - Powerhouse Museum collection

Green double bass by Eamon D’Arcy – Powerhouse Museum collection

Made of polystyrene and polyester resin, this green double bass was designed by Eamon D’Arcy to complement the performers’ costumes at these same Olympic Games. Initially, he considered purchasing inexpensive instruments to use as props though later decided to make replicas that could be painted and decorated to suit the segment.

Green bedroom-suite by Roy de Maistre - Powerhouse Museum collection. Photography by Sotha Bourn

Green bedroom-suite by Roy de Maistre – Powerhouse Museum collection. Photography by Sotha Bourn

Painted furniture was in vogue in England and America in the 1920s. However it was practically unobtainable in Australia at the time. This green bedroom-suite is one of the first painted pieces. It was decorated by Australian artist Roy de Maistre for Gwyneth and Oscar Paul, Australia, circa 1927. Roy de Maistre invented the “De Mestre” colour harmonising disc, an extremely clever device for obtaining colour schemes in great variety. The painted furniture is also an extension of de Maistre’s earlier experiments with colour-music theories in 1919 and, prior to that, his use of colour in interior decoration as a therapeutic treatment for shell-shocked WWI patients.

Roseine Crystals in glass specimen jar - Powerhouse Museum collection

Roseine Crystals in glass specimen jar – Powerhouse Museum collection

Sometimes emerald green is a hot pink in disguise. This clear glass specimen jar with a domed base contains crystals called “Fine Roseine Crystals”. Roseine crystals are of the most brilliant emerald green. They dissolve in water but instead of giving a green solution, the result is a vibrant magenta colour. These crystals were used in the production of synthetic dyes in England in the early 20th century.

Green beer bottles from the Tooth Collection - Powerhouse Museum collection

Green beer bottles from the Tooth Collection – Powerhouse Museum collection

Here is a selection of beautiful green beer bottles from the Tooth Collection, NSW, made in 1918… almost a century ago. Why are beer bottles green? Coloured glass helps prevent light from affecting the contents of the bottle. Exposure to light speeds the breakdown of the hop oils and other components of the beer, which can lead to an off-taste and a smell often described as “skunky.” Green bottles were used until the 1930s when brown bottles replaced them as brown glass filtered out the light more efficiently. However after WWII, the green bottles returned with a perceived image of fine quality, and were used as a marketing tool. Green used as a status symbol?

Green vase by Lalique - Powerhouse Museum collection

Green vase by Lalique – Powerhouse Museum collection

More green glass, but this one is a vase made by Lalique in France in the 1930s. One example of the many green glass masterpieces by the French designer.

What obviously comes to mind when speaking about emerald is the most famous and valuable green gemstone. Its durability and rarity make it one of the most expensive gemstones. Here are two examples of fine jewellery from the Powerhouse collection.

Gold and emerald brooch - Powerhouse Museum collection - Photography by Jane Townsend

Gold and emerald brooch – Powerhouse Museum collection – Photography by Jane Townsend

This gold and emerald brooch was made in the 1860s. Unfortunately the maker of this brooch is unknown.

Gold ring, with emerald and pearls, Powerhouse Museum collection - Photography Marinco Kojdanovski

Gold ring, with emerald and pearls, Powerhouse Museum collection – Photography Marinco Kojdanovski

This gold finger ring, set with emerald and pearls, was made in England in the second half of the 19th century .

Recent environmental concerns and practices might also have had an influence for the choice of the Colour of the Year for 2013. Green is the colour of nature, of our natural environment. No other colour conveys ideas of regeneration and sustainability more than green.

Cardboard coffin by LifeArt Australia - Powerhouse Museum collection - Photography by Emma Bjorndahl

Cardboard coffin by LifeArt Australia – Powerhouse Museum collection – Photography by Emma Bjorndahl

This cardboard coffin was designed by LifeArt Australia and was displayed in the ‘Eat Green Design’ showcase at the Powerhouse Museum during Sydney Design 2009 festival. It features a photographic print of trees. The Powerhouse Museum and Eat Green Design invited designers to submit and exhibit products highlighting the latest in sustainable, green design concepts.

Pantone Color Institute’s executive director Leatrice Eiseman said “Symbolically, Emerald brings a sense of clarity, renewal and rejuvenation, which is so important in today’s complex world.” Emerald green seems the perfect colour to embrace for 2013!

Pantone’s press release