The Free Press, Mankato, MN

December 15, 2012

Ojanpa: And the Color of the Year is ...

By Brian Ojanpa
Free Press Staff Writer

— This newspaper has no fashion editor, which is an outdated job in the first place and unnecessary in the second place because Mankato will never be mistaken for Milan.

But if there were a fashion editor, that person would be breathlessly reporting this week that, yes, 2013’s Color of the Year has been announced.

Time has its Person of the Year, Motor Trend has its Car of Year, literary enterprises have their Book of the Year, and for all we know some history-buff group has its Year of the Year.

 So I guess it should come as no surprise that some hue gets ballyhooed.

The Pantone Color Institute, a company that near as I can tell produces color-swatch guides for the design industry to fuss and fret over, annually  trumpets a shade of whatever.

In 2011 it was hot-pink Honeysuckle. For 2012 it was Tangerine Tango.

For 2013, the Color of the Year is (pause for bogus dramatic effect) Emerald.

Wow. Who could have seen that coming? We heard the Tahiti Turquoise backers are already screaming foul.

Not that Emerald isn’t generating bubbly kudos. When informed of the selection by a Minneapolis reporter, a designer said, “Oh, yummy!”

So there.

Some quick research revealed how the Pantone people make their yearly selections.

Twice a year, company officials travel to a European capital to meet in secret with representatives from various nations’ “color standards” groups. Don’t ask.

After two days of debate — Lincoln and Douglas, eat your hearts out —  they choose a color for the following year.

This color purportedly connects with the zeitgeist (the spirit of the times), thereby signaling to fashion designers, florists and the like that they should start selling the hell out of stuff adorned with that arbitrarily awarded tint.

The official Pantone stance on Emerald calls it “the color of growth, renewal and prosperity,” not to mention that it’s “vivid” and “verdant” and “promotes balance and harmony.”

The company spiel stopped just short of declaring that Israeli-Palestinian tensions would dissolve into harmonic yummy if everyone would just start wearing leprechaun outfits.

Further research revealed that the person most influential in Emerald receiving the 2013 nod is Kate Middleton, she of voluminous vomiting fame who apparently looks particularly smashing in bright green.

Moreover, if the Emerald City was good enough for Dorothy, that color is certainly good enough for cardigans and coffee table knickknacks.

Color us happy.


Brian Ojanpa is a Free Press staff writer. Call him at 344-6316 or email