Colour of the year 2018: yellow

In 2017, we launched for the first time what we considered the most important colour of the year – in that case, brown. As a result, the award, pictures and the colour brown have travelled around the world, from Norway and Sweden, to Australia, Brazil, the UK and the USA.


Brown continues on its journey and its development, and the various trend-forecasting agencies are increasing their focus on the colour in everything from architecture and interior design to fashion. The time is now ripe to see which colour is the most interesting for the upcoming year!


Why the most important colour of the year?

Is there a point to a rating like this? Isn’t it just a silly colour preference, or does it actually have a function? Are the colours we surround ourselves with important? Do they have any significance? The answer, of course, is yes, no, yes, yes and yes. There are many commercial players who announce their colour of the year, and looking back we can see that the selections they make are going in every direction. In previous years most people agreed – the most exciting colour that stood out was easy to spot – it stood out in our achromatic (i.e. colourless) world. The years have passed, and society has grown greyer, but at the same time a wave of colour is emerging. We are moving towards the colour-happy 2020s, and a powerful backlash to the dull and lifeless 2010s is coming. The colour of the year in many ways reflects today’s worldview, and feels like an optimistic and enthusiastic breath of fresh air.


Unsafe times

War, terrorism, rampant consumption and capitalism, mass extermination, environmental disasters, economic imbalances, states with mega debt on the brink of bankruptcy, and leaders who behave like uneducated rowdy kids (who, if they were in kindergarten, would no doubt soon have to be picked up by their parents!) contribute to making the future feel a little bleak and unpredictable at times. It’s all a bit too close for comfort. And yet, yellow, delicious yellow! We all know that if we had to pick a colour for optimism it would be yellow.


Yellow is friendly, and a little simple. The long-wave colours (those that are warm in the colour circle) give us energy. When times feel bleak the skirts become shorter they say. And the colours appear, many at a time and without rules. Complexity increases, facades become happier, the interiors friendlier, even ceilings get colourful! And the basic colours in our wardrobe go from black and grey, to brown, blue and green, with yellow as the star. Out with the sterile, colourless Pushwagnerish monotone and in comes the boldness and a rejection of cataloguing rules and an embrace of that most typical Norwegian thing: cosiness.


Because yellow is cool

Joking aside, the colour yellow began to take-off in 2010. This colour evolution began with blue-green, before moving towards green, then blue (which had reached enormous heights, but not without gaining some wear and tear before positioning itself confidently as a new neutral), then moving onto terracotta-like red tones and even shades of pink and nude. And now, just to prove that we have thrown out all our inhibitions, the last colour barrier is now over and the dreaded yellow (which “everyone” hated with a passion after the 90’s) has finally come in from the cold.



The last few seasons have seen a most unusual colour in the interior industry, which somehow sneaked in imperceptibly among the details. It began with a flirtation with cognac-coloured leather, which eventually moved towards the brownish yellow tones like ochre and mustard, and then in the direction of lemon yellow, egg yolk, sorbet yellow. The spectrum of shades continues to grow, and we become braver about using them.


Read more about how yellow is used in interior design here.



Within fashion, yellow has practically exploded. It has gone from being a colour you’d prefer to avoid because you have been told that it is difficult to wear, to becoming the colour everyone needs to wear. On the SS18 catwalks, there is hardly a single collection that does not have one or more yellow garments.


Read more about how yellow is used in fashion here.



The realm of architecture is, as usual, a little bit behind, after years of being occupied with materials’ unique features. But yellow has been one of the preferred colours when new things are tried out. This has met with mixed success; for example lemon yellow does not quite work in the Nordic light, but the colour continues to come on – it really does. On the other hand, the sophisticated ochre tones are tailor made for our light, and they have been with us since the 1600s. It will be exciting to see it return, also in contemporary architecture.


Read more about how yellow is used in architecture here.


Download visuals

For high or low resolution images of our Colour of the Year 2018, click here.


Any images used should be credited to Koi Colour Studio / Colour of the Year 2018, photo / Copyright: @teklan.


Customer Koi Colour Studio
Year 2018