Pantone Color of the Year: Purple Then and Now
Although the announcement is exciting all corners of the interior design world, the popularity of purple isn’t exactly new. Purple has a rich legacy for being a desirable and rare color often associated with royalty. This royal connection is partly due to the scarcity of purple dyes, which are notoriously difficult to produce.
History’s first purple dyes were produced nearly 4,000 years ago. The hue known as Tyrian purple was extracted from sea snails and shellfish found the Mediterranean . The Phoenicians built an industry, albeit an unpleasant and conceivably odorous one, by boiling mollusks for their purple juices. The Byzantine Empire continued this legacy with imperial funds that gave rulers the power to reserve the color for themselves.
Purple has also been produced by combining indigo dyes with commonly available reds, such as madder or cochineal. However, these proletarian purples lacked the status and exclusivity of the imperial dyes produced in Egypt , Rome and Greece . The next important purple breakthrough occurred in the 1850’s when 18-year-old scientist William Perkin accidentally discovered mauveine / fuchsin, the first aniline dye, which painted the way for many other vibrant synthetics.
Today, thanks in part to Pantone, purple is enjoying a 21st-century resurgence. Even if Radiant Orchid isn’t your shade, there are plenty of other options. Shoppers can even use Nazmiyal’s handy color selector to find a vintage rug or antique carpet in the ideal tone for their home.
Designers in all areas of the trade are discovering the power of this extraordinary hue, which has the unique ability to change appearance based on available light. It’s also a surprisingly versatile color that plays well with neutrals, earth tones, turquoise-blues, greens and contrasting yellows. As an accent piece or grounding element, purple is a remarkably powerful and versatile color that will be enjoying a year in the sun.