There are two colors I have an inexplicable obsession with. Neon coral is one of them, not coral, neon coral, and magenta. Both shades give me visceral reactions which include immediate feelings of lighthearted happiness, and energy, and at the same time settled feelings of calm and peace. I’m sure you know what I speak because we all have reactions to colors, good or bad. Humans, we’ve evolved to respond to color both positively and negatively based on conscious and subconscious preconceived experiences, what we’ve been taught to associate with certain colors, and our own lived experiences with different hues. An example of the latter would be how my mother will never wear pink and grey because of her experience with the abusive nuns of the 50s while in parochial school.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND OUR RESPONSES TO COLOR
Yet, our relationship with different colors is isn’t just nurture, it’s also nature. Colors have a symbiotic relationship with energy and matter. Every color has a different energy, frequency, and wavelength which is why each color can affect your moods differently. Color stimulates the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) which functions under involuntary and subconscious control and regulates the sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous system which includes things like physiologic processes, heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, digestion, and sexual arousal. Basically, the autonomic nervous system works to keep the body balanced and regulated.
Color can actually balance the autonomic nervous system by creating electrical impulses that activate photoreceptors in the brain. When you look at a color, those photoreceptors in the eyes send the message that is then directly sent to and identified by the retino-hypothalmic tract. The retino-hypothalmic is a fascinating tract and a masterful pacemaker for circadian rhythms that transmits information about environmental luminance levels through medial and lateral branches to four major terminal fields in the hypothalamus. This process is why scrolling through your Facebook feed to fall asleep has the opposite effect, and why blue light glasses are so popular. Next, The hypothalamus sends neurons to the spinal cord which fires neurons to the sympathetic trunk. These neurons actually initiate blood vessels to constrict or dilate which leads to either an increase or a decrease in heart rate. Fascinating, right? This is why there is actually a therapy called chromotherapy, or, simply, color therapy.
MAGENTA: LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
Combining lived experience, color use in society, and good old science, it makes sense that we all have reactions to color. For me, I have no recollection of where my obsession with neon coral came from aside from noticing my reactions to it and how often I select it. However, I can recall the moment exactly when I fell in love with magenta. As an artist child, my mom would always toss me in summer art classes through the years I was in elementary school to keep me occupied. While working on a paper mache project, I created a paper mache gymnast because besides being an artist, I was a gymnast from the age of four until I was 12. While selecting a color to paint my paper mache gymnast’s leotard, I grabbed a bottle of cheap magenta tempera paint and it was love at first sight the moment my rods and cones saw the electric and vivid blueish pink pouring out of the bottle.
I love magenta so much that I have to be mindful of not choosing it when shopping for clients, a task that requires me to blank out my personal preferences so as not to risk skewing what’s right for my clients based on what I prefer. If you put something magenta in front of me I will more than likely want it. Therefore, when Pantone did their yearly announcement that shade Viva Magenta would be their color of the year for 2023, I was completely there for it. In the past, when Pantone has announced their colors of the year in the past, which they have been doing for just over 20 years, some I have disliked (blech rose quartz and serenity) and others I have liked or could see getting into, but never have I been excited over their chosen colors like I am this year. More magenta in 2023? Yes, please.
ABOUT VIVA MAGENTA
According to Pantone, Viva Magenta, or color# 18-750, “vibrates with vim and vigor. It is a shade rooted in nature descending from the red family and expressive of a new signal of strength. Viva Magenta is brave and fearless, a pulsating color whose exuberance promotes a joyous and optimistic celebration, writing a new narrative.”
Viva Magenta is also a hue that balances warm and cool and if you’ve been reading my posts over the past few weeks above color theory, here and here, then you will understand exactly what that means. Selecting a hue that captures warm and cool, Viva Magenta captures the world we live in today where every day we’re taking giant leaps in technology and the digital world while at the same time trying to get back to basics, restore the earth through sustainability, and initiating movements to combat climate change. Just as viva magenta balances both sides of the color wheel, warm and cool, as are we working towards a balance of the digital and natural world. You can read more about Viva Magenta on Pantone’s website.
Shop for Viva Magenta.
In addition to having a busy week last week, I spent eight very long hours in a client’s closet on Saturday, giving me little time to work on a post to give you ideas and inspiration on how to use this number one shade for 2023; I will work on that this week. However, I was more than happy to do a deep dive and look for all the magenta I could find. If you love this color as I do, check out all the Viva Magenta (or close to it) that’s out there currently. I’ll be back next week with some ideas on how to add it to your wardrobe in both big and small ways.