A Decade in Colour III

The year 2016 was a big one for many reasons: the EU referendum, the American election, the Zika outbreak, continued terror attacks, we lost Prince, Bowie, and a host of other icons, Pantone released not one, but two colours of the year, and we saw the birth of Diary of a Tile Addict.


As if forseeing a tumultuous year filled with division and incohesion, Pantone’s choice of Roze Quartz and Serenity was on the money. Two pastel shades combine and blend to create a soothing mix of traditionally gendered colours, willing individuals to come together, celebrate their differences, and create something new in unity. They signify both our experiences and our needs, showcasing disparity and offering tranquility.

2016 colour of the year tile
Marais Rose from Porcelain Superstore
2016 colour of the year tile
Medina Blue Cubes from Porcelain Superstore

For the tile world it was greyscales and metallics that were big news. These neutrals combine well with everything, from bright colours to our Pantone shades. Vibrant aquatic blues also proved popular, rising in recognition alongside fishscale tiles and shimmery metallics. The pastels definitely made their mark, increasing in popularity consistently over the years.

metallic and grey scale tile trend 2016
Studio Metal from Porcelanosa

After what was called by many ‘the worst year ever’, more hope than ever was needed to lift spirits and attempt to start again. For Pantone this meant ‘Greenery’, a yellow-green shade, fresh and full of life that encourages individuals to reset. Despite its vivid colour, there was plenty of greenery in the tile world to go around. Many green offerings leaned more to the dark and emerald side, or to the toned down earthy hues but there were some more startling shades to go around.

green tile 2017 colour trend
Mohaka splashback from Original Style
green tile 2017 colour trend
Crogiolo Zellige from Marazzi

Interestingly, however, interior design was much more interested in looking back. The colour palettes of the 1950s became big news in 2017, especially in the tile world. Perhaps taking inspiration from the calm after the storm of the Second World War, it was an appropriate choice to reminisce about a seemingly less dramatic time. The colours selected by Little Greene and Sherwin Williams, such as soft pastels (including the shades from 2016), have a calming effect and give interiors a welcoming feeling.

post war colour palette 2017 interior trends
Canton by Little Greene
post war colour palette 2017 interior trends
Sherwin Williams 1950s colour palette

A wonderfully creative shade of purple was provided with Pantone’s 2018 Ultra Violet. This mysterious colour packs a punch, igniting the imagination with thoughts of distant galaxies, symbolising non-conformity, and greatly reflecting what is needed in the modern world – emotion, inspiration, and individuality.


As a powerful, dark shade it’s more ideal for accents, statements, and features. But it’s perceived limitations didn’t prevent it from being openly represented in the tile world, and it could easily be combined with the trends of the year- geometric patterns, grey, greige, sage, and peachy neutrals, and wood-effects.

Last year we covered Living Coral plenty, exploring the various ways the lively shade could be incorporated into interiors with tile, such as a creative use of grout showcased by Living Ceramics. However baby pinks proved more popular, with plenty on show throughout Cevisama, notably from Vives, Codicer, and Equipe.


Throughout the year there was continued interest in ‘the New Neutrals’, pastels shades, as well as royal tones, continuing on from Ultra Violet and including emeralds and deep blues. Interestingly Living Coral was heralded as an insensitive choice of colour, due to the state of the worlds oceans, and particularly the state of coral reefs, enabling a continued conversation around the climate emergency and the role individuals play in it.

colour tile trends 2019 living coral
Cava from Living Ceramics
colour tile trends 2019 living coral
Hanami Rosa from Vives

As the decade ended with a unique colour that caused a stir, it is perhaps no surprise that Pantone shifted entirely in the other direction to welcome 2020 with the safe and familiar Classic Blue. Ironically for the UK after the December election, the colour couldn’t be more apt and seemingly reflective of the political climate, just like the beginning of 2010.

A new post by Hanna Simpson, Diary of a Tile Addict, January 2020.

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