Why I Love the Pantone Color of the Year

I have to start this out with complete honestly. When I first saw Marsala, I was unsure. Completely unsure. All I could think of was if this is THE color of the year then it has to be an awesome color that a lot of people would automatically love, right? And then for me the color Marsala by itself conjured up visions of Mauve and Marsala and floral prints and bad bedspreads from the 80’s. Not a good start. Not a good start at all. Then I let the idea of Marsala as the Color of the Year simmer for a day or so and started to see it all differently.


I’ve been known to say that I’ve never met a color that I didn’t like. I may not love it. But, I at least like it. I understand that colors don’t exist on an island unto themselves. They interact and play with other colors often looking and feeling completely different depending on what color it is next to. It’s all about the reflection of light and electromagnetic waves and all sorts of fun things with how our eyes work. So, I knew I didn’t hate Marsala like I don’t hate other colors. I liked it because it opens up the world of color to me. It’s another tool in my color arsenal. So, the question was, did I love it? I came to the realization that yes, I think I do! But, not for the reasons that you might think.

I had posted a pic the color on Instagram with the question “What do you think?”  and one of my followers asked if I knew “why/how they choose the color of the year?”. The way the Pantone folks work, the release the Spring colors for the next year around Sep and one of those colors is chosen to be the color of the year. When they released the Spring Fashion report Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute Leatrice Eiseman stated in the report “There is a growing movement to step out and create ‘quiet zones’ to disconnect from technology and unwind, giving ourselves time to stop and be still”. It was also stated that “Soft, cool hues blend with subtle warm tones to create a soothing escape from the everyday hustle and bustle.” Looking back, it helps to put the color of the year in perspective. Sorta. The vision that Pantone has for the whole year wont be shown until the beginning of the year when they show the other seasons but, just looking at the Spring palette you can see how they have chosen a pretty muted palette. But, if you look at the other colors and start to pair them with Marsala, the Color of the Year, you’ll start to see some possibilities.


There are some that equate color of the year with the economic temperature as well and if that’s the case we may be in trouble for 2015. 🙂

Let’s just look at the color though. Like most quilters I look at color through the lens of how it would look on a quilt. I keep thinking about using a color LIKE Marsala in a “modern” quilt how would it look and feel. One person on my Instagram post likened Marsala to having the feel of Civil War Reproduction fabrics. A lot of people the ’80’s. Several even mention barf and ahem, other bodily functions. 🙂 This color seems to bring up a lot of associations! Several posters seem to like it though they were in the minority. But, it always seemed they didn’t like it just for the color itself. They liked it because it could play well with other colors and make them pop. Could possibly stand in as a neutral.
I thought about my own work. The closest that I’ve ever gotten to Marsala on a quilt wasn’t really Marsala at all. It was this quilt that I made for my dear friend Katie on the birth of her baby girl CC. It’s far more burgundy but it put me in mind of that color family and the associations we have with it.
CC Quilt - Portfolio
I thought about fabric and instantly thought of the designers bringing the southwest into focus in a fresh and fun way. It brought to mind both April Rhodes upcoming line Wanderer and Maureen Cracknell’s Wild and Free. Art Gallery seems to be on trend. 🙂 These are fresh and fun and very current and not 1980’s at all.
Rhodes Cracknell Fabric

Fabric from April Rhodes Wanderer (top row) and Wild and Free from Marureen Cracknell (bottom row).

So back to the Color of the Year. I started to reflect on previous colors of the year. Radiant Orchard, the reigning queen of 2014 wasn’t necessarily my favorite color. I am a big fan of some shades of green but, I didn’t love the particular CMYK combo of the color Emerald that Pantone picked in 2013. Some people LOVED 2012’s Tangerine Tango but, some people really HATED it too. So, you can never please everyone, right? I didn’t love these colors in and of themselves. But for the first time, lots of shades of greens and violets and oranges are being put on consumer goods because of Pantone. Now, mind you I’m not a trend girl AT ALL. But, I do like to keep my work fresh and like to incorporate things that are ‘in’ in ways that reflect me and work with my personal style. So, I’ve always looked at color and design trends in many areas of design including fashion, interior and graphic design. It’s interesting to see the colors of the year for the past 15 years.

colors of the year

As a quilter, let’s put Pantone in perspective though. To be fair, the Pantone folks were probably not thinking about quilts. 🙂 First of all, color and design trends will hit fashion first and this is where the color of the year is already being seen.  And by fashion I don’t mean what you’ll find in the department stores but, I’m talking about the runway shows. Then after that there will be a trickle down effect from there throughout all other areas of design and we might not see some of the trends in quilting and fabric until much later if ever. So, it was fun to see Maureen and April (and I’m sure other designers out there as well) be so ‘on trend’.

So, why do I love Marsala? For me as a designer and as a person that LOVES to immerse myself in color Pantone’s Color of the Year brings to the forefront colors that would normally lie in the back of the crayon box and forces me to look at colors different. And, for that I love Marsala and I love Pantone for picking it.

So, thank you Pantone. I don’t necessary look forward to the next few years seeing the marketing types slapping shades of Marsala on products just because it’s the ‘in.’ color. But, I’m really excited to see those that will really explore the nuances of the color and how it plays with the other countless colors and figure out how to make it shine in ways that it maybe hasn’t before. And, I look forward to being able to do this myself.

Now, which of you will make the first Marsala quilt of the year?! 😉 And, what do you really think of it all?

Comments 27

  1. My first thought when I saw Marsala was that it looks like my favorite lipstick color! And it is kind of like that Avon nail polish form the 80’s (earlier?) called Wood Rose. It has a lighter base than it seems at first glance. I love color and I love color challenge. I am really not sure how I’m going to use it this year, but I’m up for it!

  2. If the folks at Pantone follow their previous trends, the next color after Marsala should be some sort of blue. Which will make 75% of the population happy. 🙂 Personally, I’m indifferent to what Pantone says is the color of the year. And I was one of the few that wasn’t all that crazy about Radiant Orchid. But it will fun to see what people do with it in the world of quilting.

  3. I like the color. Not a fan of lights and whites and I’ve always used blacks or Browns in place of whites in quilts so…I have lots of this shade family already and do not find it hard to work with at all. I have severe aversions to red however!

  4. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts about Marsala. I’m so happy you’ve embraced the color and can’t wait to see what you create. I can’t wait to see what I create!! I loved the color the second I saw it. I use Marsala, the wine, a lot in cooking. It has such a distinct, robust, earthy fragrance and flavor. It seems to be the needed small addition to many, many Italian dishes, the perfect addition. Warm Zabaglioni poured over warm poached pears, an Italian fruit salad mixed with several tablespoons of Marsala, sauté with mushrooms, tiramisu, chicken, veal, beef steak, some veggies. It just seems to bring everything together in a friendly ambience of Marsala distinction. I expect to use it in a similar way in quilting. I LOVE this color.

    1. Latifah Post
  5. What a great article to put things into perspective. I had a similar reaction when I first saw the 2015 color of the year but then I was thinking about some of the fabrics on my shelves that may already have this color (or similar one) in the background – like some of my Kaffe’s for instance. Often the colors that I love and see are made more beautiful and really pop because of the more subtle colors in the background.

  6. I’m looking forward to seeing some subtle metallic fabrics using this hue. A pretty almost coppery effect if shot through with gold or a sophisticated look if shot through with a silver.
    That said, for me, I guess I envision using that type of fabric for bags and accessories more than quilts. Looking forward to what you create next, Latifah!

    1. Latifah Post

      OMG, that fabric you describe sounds amazing! And, I agree that those colors lean more towards bags and accessories or even clothing than quilts initially but, it could add great interest to a quilt palette!

  7. What I love about the Pantone color of the year is that it forces one to think about how they would make this work- what color palettes would you pull to use it in, and how does that sit with quilts/color palettes you’ve already worked with.

    As a former designer in the fashion industry, one of my favorite design challenges was incorporating trends and colors into the overall aesthetic of the companies I worked for. I think that alot of modern quilters favor bright, clean colors so Marsala, which is dirtier, is something that might take some getting used to.

    While I do love all colors, I find myself drawn most towards cooler tones of aqua, lime and navy with pops of orange or yellow. In general, reds make me uncomfortable and I tend not to use brown tones in my quilts. But I could see working Marsala into a palette with off shades of blue (like Kona Delft) and some dirty golds like Curry and it being really interesting.

    If nothing else, some stash building may be in order here, as the quilter might need to get new, murkier colors to work with it- consider this an opportunity to shop!

    1. Latifah Post

      I’ll take any excuse for stash building! 🙂 And, you seem to think like me with the Pantone color choices, always forces us to think outside of our color boxes and I LOVE that!

  8. Just days prior to the announcement, we decided to make a quilted banner for our MQG that mimics our guitar logo. The logo, which I adore, was created a few years ago by one of our founding members. She’s an earth-tones kind of gal, and I definitely envisioned trying to brighten up some of the neutrals. But the moment this color was announced, I thought of our guitar. You’ll see we were ahead of the trend! http://musiccitymodernquilters.blogspot.com

    1. Latifah Post
  9. I like your thoughtful post on color and the new Pantone Color of the Year. I have yet to decide if I like it. Deeper earthy colors are usually not my favorite to quilt with or to wear. But like you, there really aren’t any colors I hate . . . just ones I’m more partial to than others. It all depends on the context.

  10. I’m with you on the “never met a color I didn’t like” and I LOVE the challenge that Marsala is bringing! I purchased some fabric today to play with, we’ll see if I have a chance to work on it this weekend.

    1. Latifah Post

      Can’t wait to see! And I loved your blog post on the Spring 2015 colors and all the guesses everyone was making on what the color of the year would be.

  11. As someone who works in the Fashion Industry and sees trends a whole year or more before they show up on the masses, Pantone’s choice of color was not an enormous surprise; since muted tones are one of the many things coming. Like you, I am intrigued by how us modern quilters will use it and cannot wait to see Marsala quilts popping up on social media. Honestly though, I need to find some nail-polish that color…it would be fantastic!

    1. Latifah Post

      I didn’t know you worked in the fashion industry Kristy! It’ll be interesting to see how the muted tones work into what we do period. And, yes this will make a great nail polish or even a good gloss!

  12. I’m not sure about how I see this color in quilts, but I’m excited to see it more in fashion – lovely trousers, a silk dress, didn’t Oprah have a similarly hued Oscars gown? I love the deep rich neutrals like this.

    1. Latifah Post
    1. Wine and Cocoa were the two closest I could find when I saw them on the bolts. Brick is a bit too dark and Sienna is too orange. I think wine falls a bit more on the red side and cocoa falls a bit more on the brown side, but that might get you started. 🙂

    2. Irelle, I checked the RK Kona site for a Marsala-like color. My screen tells me to check Paprika, Bordeaux, Crimson and Wine at my LQS that carries every Kona color. I’ve worked with these colors in the past and like to combine them for a mottled look. We’re going to have fun with this one!

  13. I have to say, I love it, and did so when I first saw it. Perhaps it’s because I’m drawn to lots of shades of red, but I can see it acting as a neutral – like you said – against grays and golds. I can see it in tone-on-tone quilt blocks.

    I do love bright colors, but sometimes they feel a little like capital letters to me – always screaming, “Look at me!” With a color like Marsala, especially used as negative space, it gives your eyes a chance to relax. For me, I can’t ask for any more than something that allows me to do that.

    BTW, love your work, Latifah – can’t wait to see what you do with this color. 🙂

    1. Latifah Post

      Thanks Sandra, I can’t wait to see what I do either. I only have like 50 other project that I have to get to first. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *