Benjamin Moore’s 2016 Color of the Year is a Safe Bet for an Election Year

Color expert Cristina Acosta talks about white paint colors

Will the 2016 election year be a white-out or a clean start? It’s impossible to say what the future holds, and one color that can swing in most any stylistic direction says it all – White. Benjamin Moore Paints, a U.S. paint coatings company based on the East Coast recently announced their choice of the “Color of the Year.” Welcome, Simply White OC 117, to the top of the color sample pile.

Simply White is a beautiful warm white paint color (which means it has a golden yellow undertone). Is it intrinsically more amazing than the other 250+ shades of white in the Benjamin Moore color palette? No. Similar Benjamin Moore whites, such as Snowfall White OC-118, Mountain Peak White OC-121, Cotton Balls OC-122, and Cloud Nine OC-119 are just as lovely.

Just like a menu listing or a book title, the name says it all. Can you imagine “Cotton Balls” as the color of the year? It’s a name stuck in the baby’s bathroom. Mountain Peak and Cloud Nine carry names just a bit too aspirational and over-reaching for a country dealing with the many shades of gray born of economically doubtful times.

So, Simply White it is. Its a gently optimistic name defining a white the color of whole-milk. But don’t let the name fool you. Layer whites of texture and shape and various temperatures (bluish whites, peach whites, mauve whites, etc.) and white can transform from a neutral clean slate to an aggressive assertion of pure dominance. Context is everything.

How you use a color is as important as which color you choose. Like the twenty six letters of the English alphabet, it’s the combinations that count. How a color is placed in a room, the quantities of that color, the architecture of that room, the latitude and longitude of that room, and the time and place that room occupies in human history are all influencing how the person or people in that room perceive the color.

If you are a real estate developer or a car manufacturer, learning that white is the new “It Color,” in the world of design might give you some peace of mind. Nothing about the phrase, “paint it white” seems risky or edgy. It’s been done before. And it never seemed to really bother anybody. Investments are safe and bets are hedged. If thoughts of beige and gray add to one’s free-floating anxiety, white is the panacea.

And, there is a lot to be anxious about. Global climate change, economic downturns, water scarcity, rising sea levels, species die-offs and human greed have weighted all of us with uncertainty. It’s time to settle in, minimize distractions and make changes that reduce pain and suffering. “We” is no longer just humanity. All species are connected.

Though there might be a bit of hubris defining the “color of the year” for 318 million Americans, anticipating what those Americans will want next year is not only fun, its big business. Hubris becomes self confident forecasting. Billions of manufacturing dollars follow the color trends and predictions, trickling down to the colors in our homes and on our backs.

A blank white screen or piece of white copy paper is an expanse with the potential to be filled with absolutely anything. White appears simple and open with unlimited possibilities. Solutions are just a page away. Simply White is a perfect election year color defined by an American company projecting a reservedly optimistic future.