Beyond #BlueTwitter: Why Pantone’s colour of the year is our symbol of hope
As a solidarity campaign unfolds on the social media platform in the wake of covid-19, Lounge looks at why Classic Blue will continue to dominate our lives
In an almost prescient move, in December 2019 colour institute Pantone announced that the colour of the year for 2020 would be Pantone-19 4052, or Classic Blue. This is what the institute said while making the announcement: “Instilling calm, confidence, and connection, this enduring blue hue highlights our desire for a dependable and stable foundation on which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era."
It is uncanny how evocative this is proving to be right now. As the hashtag #BlueTwitter trends on the social media platform to pay homage to healthcare workers—dressed in their universal, ubiquitous blue/ blue-green hospital scrubs—at the frontline of the fight against covid-19, blue today has the power to evoke a range of emotions: gratitude, strength, solidarity.
A lot has been said about blue. French artist Yves Klein found it to be “beyond dimensions". Carl Sagan’s ‘pale blue dot’ marked the colour as a symbol of mankind’s thriving life in the known universe. The Marcels found love under a blue-hued moon in their doo-wop hit. Indians will probably connect the colour with one of the oldest dyes in the world: indigo. A regal colour extracted from the true indigo (Indigofera tinctoria) plant, indigo was commodified by the British Raj and once associated with colonial oppression and brutality. Today, in an age of synthetic dyes, natural indigo is back in favour as we wear it with pride.
The colour is also a part of India’s national flag, in the Ashok Chakra, the 24-spoke wheel symbolizing motion and time. B.R. Ambedkar would always wear an iconic blue suit, using the sartorial choice as a political tool against caste discrimination. And you can’t forget the Indian cricket team, which has worn the colour in various iterations over time. Blue is the colour of love in India—Krishna, after all, is blue.
Navdeep Kaur, founder at colour research and design consulting agency, The Colour Workshop says, "India’s very diverse social systems have always had symbolic and material associations with the colour blue. The association with royalty due to the rarity of the pigment and access to it being given to only the privileged, enhances its position in our society. We see the colour in ancient miniature art to age old natural dyeing practices. Even in mythology, the colour’s association is with Krishna and his immortality, bravery and determination. Today we see our real heroes yet again fighting unreal battles against mortality, with a spirit perhaps unseen in our lifetime."
“Blue has always been a colour that signifies the working class. Even as we’re in lockdown mode right now, we’re all working and trying to reset ourselves into what might be the new normal. While many businesses, such as retail and travel, are being hit every day, we’re still striving to sustain ourselves. That’s why blue resonates with all of us right now," says trend forecaster Harleen Sabharwal. Chances are it will inspire the fashion and design fraternity in days to come when the world rights itself.
"Blue hospital scrubs have a simple meaning: they connote cleanliness and hygiene. A sense of approachability and friendliness is associated with those designated to wear blue. And maybe it’s time that we stood by the heroes fighting the battle for us, not unlike the mythological heroes draped in the same colour. The country is standing behind the soldiers dressed in blue, and extending their new-found emotional resilience through this symbolism, hoping it inspires those in blue. Perhaps #BlueTwitter is one expression of it. When this blows over, the colour will continue to dominate our lives—only this time reminding us of who we really have to thank for having survived these times," says Kaur.