Millennial Pink / Cool Down Pink

  Image and Caption by thecut.com 2007 : Acne Studios debuts its  pink shopping bag.  Jonny Johansson says he was inspired by “a pink sandwich-wrapper paper lying on my desk.”

Image and Caption by thecut.com 2007: Acne Studios debuts its pink shopping bag. Jonny Johansson says he was inspired by “a pink sandwich-wrapper paper lying on my desk.”

Hip Pink

Dusty Pink, Dusty Rose, Light Pink, Glossier Pink, Pepto Bismol Pink - whatever you call it - you know the pink I am talking about.

Apparently, I am not the only one who has been bitten by the pink bug - this article seems to indicate that this "pink plague" is attacking millenials everywhere. ALSO, The timeline of pink is AMAZING and worth a gander. The funny thing about this pink trend is that this color surfaces in the strangest places - like the cells where violent inmates are trying to be subdued.

Pink is such an interesting color - depending on time period, it was seen as androgynous. In recent decades in the US it has taken a more gender divisive role. How and why does our perception of color change like this over generations? Many times, what we associate with colors is not at all respective to what physiological effects the color may have on us. Who is deciding what the "meanings" are here and why do they end up meaning so much to how we identify or feel represented by colors? Perhaps we can blame marketing and the use of gender specific targeting to divide and conquer demographics.

Within this article there is a quote I love regarding this lovely light pink and its use in Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel:

"It’s cheeky, sincere, and nostalgic all at once — which is perhaps why the earnest ironist Wes Anderson bathed the entirety of The Grand Budapest Hotel in the color — filling us with a bright, wide-eyed wonder and even, for at least a moment, keeping us calm."

I love the multifaceted reach that this color has - in the hippest places, the kid's aisle, and prisons. The way the color is being used is so varying that is really challenges us to think about the meaning of this color - or if that is truly a thing. We have to consider that the marketing and meanings are totally made up and we just have played along as a society for so long we assume these to be truths. See below for more about the use of pinks in medical and prison facilities. 


The Dark Side of Pink

Pink is indeed a calming color, I remember in design school learning about prison facilities painted this color as it calms people down physilogically. Articles as recent as last year have been showing the effects of this color theory being applied in Switzerland.  Germany has also started using this shade of pink to paint its cells, for example, in Dortmund, Hagen, Kleve and Attendorn.

Due to the divisive nature this color may have for those surrounded by it, there are debates regarding the physiological effects versus creating demeaning emasculating environments for male inmates.

This article from Design Curial/Blueprint pokes at the cross-cultural validation and repeated results that many of the studies to date have not truly replicated to create a solid consistent case for cause and effect. This is also the case presented by the Evidence based design journal noting;

"While the reviewed studies argue for the existence of colour-mood association, there is no reliable evidence to suggest a direct relationship between a given colour and a given emotion."

Additional resources are noted with in-depth explanations are here for a longform read that refers to several of the independent studies on color and behavior.

As a designer, I never get sick of color theory, the highly personal perception and reactions we each have to color, and the power of color in space. Design is powerful and the sweeping marketing of today's color will inevitably lead to repulsion in a short time (think about the avocado green appliances of the 60s - today I would argue most people would not welcome these into their homes).

Design Takeaway

Stick to the classics for items you anticipate owning for a long time. Put the trendy colors in your home into painted walls, artwork, rugs, and accent pieces. These can be changed out easily as your taste and trends change. 

Cracker Jack Prize

I can't help myself. Click here for my favorite pink musical moment .
The Onesie from pixels.com (photo from thumbnail) is is available here - just in case you want to engage with the freeing pink, expressive, world of Steven Tyler.