How Purple Gets its Name - Color Fun Fact

Here is a fun fact that I discovered while working on a project that involved researching the history of the color purple.

Tyrian purple was the most famous purple dye in the ancient world.  It was made from the sea snail murex found around the Mediterranean. Murex is porphyra (pore-fear-a) in Greek, purpura (purr-purr-a) in Latin and this is where the name Purple comes from. In Central America a dye is made from another type of purpura sea snail. It was found on the coasts of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. In Mexico on the coast of the state of Oaxaca (wuh-háh-ka), 25 Mixtec Indian men, working along 30 miles of remote, rocky coastline in the Mexican Pacific, carry on an ancient tradition of dyeing cotton purple using the ink of the small sea mollusks. They are the last traditional people on Earth who carry on this legendary practice.

In the Mediterranean, Japan and elsewhere, the mollusks had to be killed to obtain the dye. Given that purple-dyed garments where so highly coveted, this inevitably led to the extreme reduction or extinction of these species. Purpura pansa, however, does not need to be killed to extract the dye. If one applies gentle pressure to the foot of the mollusk the ink is released. This milky white liquid is dabbed onto a skein of cotton thread that the dyer carries wrapped around his forearm. The dyer then replaces the shell in a protected crevice where it will reattach and continue with its mollusk business. It is this simple fact, combined with the Mixtec dyers’ deep understanding of the ways of Purpura panza, which have kept this species alive to this day.


Which Yellow Will Be Your Yellow

In 2017 Color Marketing Group members forecasted the color TBD as the North America Key Color for 2019. How did we know? Did we get it right? What does it mean?

“A color with varied facades and multiple meanings,  TBD… represents tumultuous times, as well as moments of exhilaration.  It embraces the trend of needing to balance the disquieting sense of what may lie ahead with the need for unbridled, spontaneous fun.

This sharp, almost angular yellow, is a reactive color expression to the mixed messages delivered throughout the day. TBD…  is also a determined hue, one with clear messages, whether cautionary or enthusiastic.”

ChromaZone workshops take place around the world and the results are then steered to a single palette of 16 colors for each CMG region and they are combined to form the World Color Forecast™ of 64 colors. The North American steering committee chose TBD because of the prevalence of this strong yellow throughout the workshops and the support of the membership that it told a story of where we are as a society right now. As stated above, it is both a positive and cautionary message. The members of CMG who make the forecasts are involved in the development of products for their companies. They are looking into the future to see the directions to which their customers will be shifting, color-wise. For them, whether they choose the right color is about whether that product will sell in that color. The actual application of the colors in their many nuances, degrees and combinations falls to the members and their knowledge of their products and consumers. CMG tracks the predictions throughout the year of the key colors for each region and highlights the success of 12 of the 64 colors in their Color Alert profiles each month.

This Colorfuel video shows the qualities of yellow as a hue family. A snapshot of the emotion behind the color and the “feels” it can convey.

Colorfuel Loves Yellow

In home design, the yellows we will be seeing this year range from the electric TBD to the more friendly golds and butters.

Mustard has been strong in home and fashion for the past year + and it is interesting to see the many discordant combinations that are making it feel so new and fresh.

As consumers we have the luxury of watching, following, or ignoring the forecasted colors. If we agree that some form of yellow is going to make us happy right now, isn’t it awesome when we see those yellows in the market? Those products will be based on the forecasts of the designers and producers that spent countless hours trying to figure out which yellow will be the one we choose. This iconic clip from the Devil Wears Prada illustrates that we are never immune to the color trends.