Every year Pantone – the be-all-and-end-all in color authority – a color of the year that will define design decisions for the next twelve months and beyond. Yesterday, they finally announced the 2015 winner and it is… MARSALA!

Also known as a fortified wine and often used to make chicken dishes, as well as mushroom cream sauces, marsala is a delightful blend of brown and red.


Courtesy Pantone

The earthy tone is grounding and stable, with a bohemian, 70s-style vibe. It’s a color that could have thrived in the Victorian era, when darker colors were often considered classier. Marsala offers a whiff of sophistication and elegance with an exotic touch.

Grabbing the spotlight as early as Steve McCurry’s famous photograph, Afghan Girl, marsala has been increasingly appearing on red carpets and runways. Over the past year, it was featured in shows from the likes of Louis Vuitton and Burberry.


Marsala, changing the world of photography since Afghan Girl by Steve McCurry. Courtesy National Geographic.

Fashion aside, thought leaders are already considering it a natural choice for kitchens and dining rooms due to its latent reminiscence of food and good drink. Bridal sites have labeled the brownish shade a must-have color for weddings, especially in floral bouquets. Makeup is also running away with this flattering tone, with Sephora launching an entire line based around the tone.

Despite the darkness of the hue, which might seem very fall or winter-based, Pantone believes that by putting marsala together with lighter colors will effortlessly update it for spring and other softer affairs.


This year it will be ok to spill a little marsala on your white dress. Courtesy of Tulle & Chantilly.

If you’re questioning the validity of a “color of the year”, rest assured that the color masters over at Pantone didn’t choose marsala after their dinner drinks last night. Rather the Pantone organization is a collection of tastemakers who travel the world, looking at emerging trends, and come together in December to make their decision. They hope to choose a color that represents the zeitgeist and reflects an international mood.

Needless to say, the internet’s been full of haters and joke-makers. Some are calling it “tampon brown”, “cougar cigarette butt” or “zombie flesh”. While these names may hilariously reflect what this color looks like, none of them are as eloquent as the Italian wine for which it was named.

While most talk on the color infers it’s future use in fashion design, interior design, and makeup choices, we’re sure that it is suited to graphic design as well. We’ve rounded up a collection of excellent designs from our site that show off marsala in graphic design. Take a look!


Album cover design by Pinch Studio for Kramnik


Logo design by ultrasjarna for Vlam Noten. Showing how a marsala accent can add a touch of class.

Dr. Hannibal Vector™

This logo design shows how marsala works great as a background for a mockup. Design by Dr. Hannibal Vector™ for Pantheon.

Want to stay up to date? Check out 2016’s Pantone Color of the Year!