As you may have heard, researchers in Australia have been working to create cigarette packaging that was the least appealing as possible in order to reduce cigarette use. Through many studies one colour was chosen for the packaging, a colour that is now being referred to as the “Ugliest Colour in the World.” This colour is Pantone 448, or opaque couché’, a “drab dark brown” colour.
The colour was first described as olive green, until the Australian Olive Association wrote to the health minister asking her to stop associating this negative colour with them. While it is true that it probably wouldn’t be my first choice for my favourite colour, I am a firm believer that any colour has its place. Similarly, Pantone itself is not thrilled with the title.
“At the Pantone Color Institute, we consider all colours equally,” explained Leatrice Eiseman, executive director. There was, she said, “no such thing as the ugliest colour.”
If I were to be asked what my least favourite colour is it would definitely be some shade of purple, but I still use purple in my design work when it is appropriate and I would never argue to ban purple from all use, that is just silly.
I kind of feel a little bad for poor Pantone 448. While studies show that this is not the most appealing colour to smokers for cigarette packaging, it’s unfair to label one colour at the Ugliest Colour in the World and refrain from using it in other circumstances. Since receiving this title, articles have been coming out banning Pantone 448 from wedding colours and warning people not to use this colour in their homes, for fear of choosing a colour that doesn’t appeal to everyone.
As mentioned in this colour psychology post, colour combinations can be more powerful than using a single colour alone. So even if the swatch doesn’t appeal to you, you shouldn’t completely rule out using it. Pairing a colour with different colours can completely change its connotations. Now I will admit I am drawn to more unconventional colour palettes than the average person (noted by some passionate discussions with other designers at the office that peach is indeed a beautiful colour) but maybe, just maybe one of these colour combinations below will change your mind. I took a peak into my personal inspiration files and found 20 examples of times that this colour was used in fashion, interior design, art, patterns and general life that were actually quite lovely.
20 Times the World’s Ugliest Colour was Actually Quite Lovely:
What do you think? Does Pantone 448 have a new place in your heart?