Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Pondering the Next Hot Color

By now, you have likely heard that the 2015 Pantone Color of the Year is Marsala.  I typically don't give much thought to the Color of the Year, if only because I'm focused on other things.  But this year, I did slow down long enough to look at and ponder next year's hot color, and I have come to the conclusion that Marsala isn't really piquing my interest at the moment.  Although I do appreciate a range of wine tones, Marsala seems a little tepid, almost like a watered down shade of wine.  It lacks the full-bodied robustness and edge that I like to see in colors.  And, it doesn't have enough "oomph".  Shall I go on?

I'm trying to keep an open mind here, so I perused my old design books in order to find bygone examples of Marsala-accented decor.  I learned a few things.  First, Marsala is a difficult color to identify, with its slightly dusty quality making it appear quite similar to other shades of wine, red, and even brown.  Old photography makes identification even more difficult.  Also, Marsala does not seem to have been a terribly popular shade in years past.  I looked through books from the 1930s onward, and it seems that the color did make occasional appearances in interiors of the 1940s and later during the 1980s, when the Neo-Edwardian look, which embraced deep shades of red and wine, was considered quite the thing. 

You can find what I found below.  Truth be told, many of the examples are not terribly attractive, which is a shame because I prefer to feature attractive interior images on my blog.  The one image that I do find appealing is the McMillen-decorated living room.  Technically, the color in that photograph is dusty aubergine, so I don't know if it qualifies as a Marsala-driven interior or not.

And it's back to beauty later in the week.

The two images above depict 1940s interiors which may or may not depict Marsala. I simply can't tell.

A McMillen-decorated living room with walls and curtains covered in a "dusty aubergine" fabric. I believe the fabric is not deep enough to be Marsala, but it's a good looking room so I included it anyway.

Marsala might be in this Renzo Mongiardino-designed room. Then again, maybe not.

Two 1980s-era French homes, which were decorated with fabrics in shades similar to Marsala.


  1. Anonymous8:12 AM

    I'm so glad that you said this. I find this new color hard to be excited about as well. I can't imagine a whole room in my house done up in marsala. My guest powder room is painted a sort of laquered aubergine, but I am even having trouble with that and may repaint soon. I do think that hymn books look good in marsala. :)

    My favorite accent color is still 2012's Tangerine Tango. In light doses.

  2. Thanks for doing the research on this weird color choice! I just can't get into it. Only 365 days until they choose another color...

  3. Anonymous and Kristen, I'm glad to find out that I'm not the only one who is indifferent to Marsala!

  4. Anonymous9:05 AM

    Muddled and muddy. "Color of the Year" ... hilarious concept. Ah, marketing.

  5. Anonymous9:40 AM

    Does this mean all the wine & burgundy tones will be next??? What'll that lead to? Mauve & "dusty rose" again? Please...no.

  6. Couldn't agree with previous posters more! Not a good color at all, and one of which one would VERY quickly tire.

    I'm really not into "color of the year" kind of nonsense. To me, interiors should be timeless and never look dated (an avocado refrigerator or harvest gold - we know the date!). And following nature is always foolproof.

  7. I agree--this is a difficult color. Good as an accent but I am seeing too much gray to be able to use it effectively in either clothing or decorating. If it were next to my face, I would look sick and the thought of having it on walls or a major piece of furniture makes me cringe.

  8. Marsala is for cooking and mens' ties.

  9. Marsala is a terrible color + I agree with Linda.xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

  10. I have never like the concept of the color of the year and rarely have I liked the colors chosen. This color, however, has made me stop to think: what were they thinking? Do they the color experts see the future and are reporting back: bad economy, more ugly times ahead so let's make our homes match the mood?

  11. When I saw the color a few weeks ago I was surprised. It's really rather morbid, and reminds of the color of dried blood. Since color tends to reflect moods, this is obviously a nod to the feeling of our country, in general. I'll stick to the happier, refreshing palette I use when designing rooms for my clients!

  12. This poor color makes me want to go to sleep. It probably would not even be my last choice for a design. Thanks for the fun. Mary

  13. Jennifer I do agree with you. When I saw the color, my first thoughts were that I wished it was a richer deeper shade. Washed out does describe it and I don't see that it will be embraced by many.
    The Arts by Karena

  14. Though not always my favorite, If done right this deep red can be really beautiful as pictured above!! Will be watching for more use!
    xo. Leslie
    Segreto Finishes

  15. I must be the odd fellow out, but I love Marsala!
    I see it as being a rich, warm, sophisticated "color" that will work well as a good base, or background color, or a go-with color, for a great number of other lighter colors. It doesn't have the in-your-face shock value of last years Radiant Orchid, or a tangerine/orange color. or a lime green,or some other flash-in-the pan color, but I predict that it will be with us for much longer, and will be found in very sophisticated interiors .
    Maybe it is a male thing?

  16. "Marsala"---more or less what used to be known as Puce---will put the entire nation into a dismal mood. Which isn't to say that muddy or murky tones never have their place, though it would take great skill to work up a successful scheme with "Marsala" dominant.

    Yet on another level, this bizarre choice has done us a great favor, if only to point up the ludicrous notion of any single hue being "color of the year", whatever it may be. Let's have no more of this nonsense. It isn't the least bit helpful.

  17. Colour of the year? A dear friend of mine put it best when comparing style to fashion: those with style create their own fashion. 'Those who are more fashionable than stylish tend to be wishy - washy. Which is why they are followers of fashion.' I never like placing gender to colour either. But that's for another time!

    I agree with Toby Worthington in the ceasing of such nonsense. Will this hue make its way to all the DIY stores and commercials using interior shots?

    Thank Jennifer though for going that extra mile in locating images which may or may not be using Marsala.

    1. In my breathless haste to denounce the concept of Colour of the Year, I forgot to acknowledge Jennifer's very interesting examples. "Going that extra mile" indeed!

  18. I am with you on this one! I thought... mmmm...maybe....but...then again...probably not.. If it was a little more deep and earthy...I might like it more..

  19. Yes, yes, yes! I am so on the fence with this selection so far. I absolutely loved the vibrant radiant orchid. But this just isn't doing it for me quite yet...


  20. It's kind of like the beige of the red spectrum of colours. I like a red that is a bit cleaner looking,myself.

  21. I was so worked up to leave an enthusiastic and opinionated comment.....Thank God I read the aforementioned before I commented.

    Toby Worthington took the words right out of my mouth! He even used the word "puce" (it sprung instantly into my head in the first words of this blog!)


    This year's color choice should be the "death knell"; and the "death" of the ridiculous "color of the year"!! who started it? Paint companies? Stop it at once!
    Do we think they will listen to Toby and me????

    JUST STOP IT!!!!

    We shall see!

    Bravo Jennifer and Toby!