Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2015: Marsala


Quick, before you read anything else, what do you think of this color?

Marsala, aka Pantone 18-1438, is Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2015. Pantone describes it:

“While PANTONE 18-3224 Radiant Orchid, the captivating 2014 color of the year, encouraged creativity and innovation, Marsala enriches our mind, body and soul, exuding confidence and stability,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®.

“Much like the fortified wine that gives Marsala its name, this tasteful hue embodies the satisfying richness of a fulfilling meal, while its grounding red-brown roots emanate a sophisticated, natural earthiness. This hearty, yet stylish tone is universally appealing and translates easily to fashion, beauty, industrial design, home furnishings and interiors.”

Those folks do wax eloquent about their colors, don’t they? Still, if you gave me a color swatch and told me to describe the color, I’m not sure what I’d come up with. But I can tell you my first thought when I saw Marsala. It’s the color of my son’s first car, a 1980 Camaro. We had endless discussions about whether it was red or brown. I forget who thought it was which, but I know we disagreed.

Actually, the car was my second thought. My first thought was, “Eww.” And apparently I wasn’t alone in that reaction.

The Atlantic thought of rust and blood: “Think rust, the grimy, gag-inducing type that lines corners or frat boy dormitory-style bathrooms. Or blood, the freaky dried kind whose iron content has been exposed to the air long enough to evoke a dull brick.”

The Cut called it “icky” and said, “It’s a color that makes you want to go to Olive Garden or order Tampax in bulk.”

PantoneMarsala2Jezebel suggested some other names:

  • Your Pee After You Run a Marathon
  • Your Period, Day 3
  • A Rusty Nail After You’ve Stepped on It and Your Blood Is Everywhere
  • The Residue Sitting at the Bottom of the Wine Glasses Not Yet Washed From Three Days Ago That Held 3 Buck Chuck

But to get those images out of your head, here’s some more Pantone eloquence:

  • Equally appealing to men and women, Marsala is a stirring and flavorful shade for apparel and accessories, one that encourages color creativity and experimentation
  • Flattering against many skin tones, sultry and subtle Marsala is a great go-to color for beauty, providing enormous highlight for the cheek, and a captivating pop of color for nails, shadows lips and hair.
  • Dramatic and at the same time grounding, the rich and full-bodied red-brown Marsala brings color warmth into home interiors
  • An earthy shade with a bit of sophistication, texture is the story in print and packaging. A matte finish highlights Marsala’s organic nature while adding a sheen conveys a completely different message of glamour and luxury.

Okay, I’ll admit after contemplating this color for a while, I’m warming up to it. And it’s decidedly better than some other recent Pantone picks. Still, my first reaction was, “Eww.” What was yours?

8 thoughts on “Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2015: Marsala

  1. I like it; but then again I’m officially colourblind ( on the Isihara tests I score 0 ) I really do like this colour though it has a reddish brownish look to me and if that is what it is I shall be exceedingly happy if I am wrong please don’t tell me. 🙁

    1. So much depends on how it’s used, on what surface, what material, what finish. Glossy or matte. I’ve always liked brown tones for clothing, provided they are reddish browns, not yellowish browns. Need to flatter those pink skin tones.

    1. I think that’s been my objection to all of Pantone’s Color of the Year choices. They aren’t rich, deep, and saturated, and they aren’t delicate, clean pastels. They’re just … there. Of course a single, uniform color chip or swatch is probably the most uninspiring way to present any color. No texture, no shading, no context.

  2. This looks like a wanna be rust/rouge from past years’ earth tones…
    Guess Pottery Barn will be loaded with this shortly…gotta have some new reason for customers to buy and keep the economy going
    (Hey – where do we apply for this job? We could come up with just as many wordy passages easily!)

... and that's my two cents