It’s that time again – the beginning of a new year when we all seek new inspirations for what lies ahead. And each year, design and color lovers (like us) get a hint of what’s to come in the annual announcement of the PANTONE® Color of the Year.  No wonder then that the design world is atwitter discussing this year’s announcement which, for the first time, blends two shades – Rose Quartz (PANTONE® 13-1520) and Serenity (PANTONE® 15-3919).

At first glance, it’s a surprising selection (certainly a far cry from last year’s Marsala) even though modern pastel tones have been trending in everything from fashion to interior design. Could it be that PANTONE® has finally put its finger on why in this year’s selection: “As consumers seek mindfulness and well-being as an antidote to modern day stresses, welcoming colors that psychologically fulfill our yearning for reassurance and security are becoming more prominent. Joined together, Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.” Balance and order for our driven, digital world? Maybe. From sun-washed natural tones to elegant “new neutral” grays, we’ve already seen that muted tones seem to be resonating with consumers across all kinds of industries and media.

Oh, and if this year’s color combination conjured up images of baby nurseries and snuggly onesies, you’re not alone – but you may be surprised to find that the underlying message is just the opposite. In its announcement, PANTONE® acknowledged that this year’s selection is also a further reflection of what started as the fashion “gender blur” moving into other areas of design. “This more unilateral approach to color is coinciding with societal movements toward gender equality and fluidity, the consumer’s increased comfort with using color as a form of expression, a generation that has less concern about being typecast or judged…”

Mindfulness, balance, comfort and respite from an often hectic world. That’s quite a color combination – but 2016 sounds so far, so good in our book.