The World's Ugliest Color

color
ui
design

#1

I had a bit of fun reading today about the “world’s ugliest color” (Pantone 448C), as well as some of its defenders.

In this case, 448C is being used to deter smokers from picking up another pack. This whole kerfuffle got me thinking a bit about how to intentionally use terrible colors in good design. I’d like to hear the community’s thoughts on how we might use the same strategy in other more web-centric designs. What are your thoughts?


#2

Haha, indeed! I remember the Australian olive industry kicking up a fuss when the plain packaging laws for cigarettes came in, requiring this colour (named “olive green”). I quite like olives!

We use colour in filmmaking all the time as symbolism in wardrobe and mise-en-scène. It might play on the usual colour theory (white as purity, green as envy, blue as security, etc) but it can also be manipulated to prime the audience after multiple exposures and subliminally build tension. For example, I think it was Breaking Bad that used yellow in a lot of Walt’s scenes associated with his drug operations, priming an emotional response in the audience and foreshadowing subsequent events. Not an ugly colour, but certainly filmmaking and visual storytelling can deliberately evoke negative emotions using colour.


#3

Ah – the colour of anxiety!


#4

I actually have anxiety issues, and I’ve never liked the color yellow. It all makes sense now.


#5

Heh. The internet will tell you that the colour yellow makes babies cry, but that’s never been proven!

Good for Buy Now buttons though!


#6

Now I have a new superfluous research project…


#7

I won’t be held accountable for you making babies cry.


#8

Don’t worry, I’ve been doing it my whole life. The only people held responsible are my parents.


#11

As soon as I read the headline, that was the first colour I thought of.

Funnily enough it’s not too far from the colour of a wall sticker in my living room. I get a lot of compliments about it though.

As for colour names I really hate the word Puce.


#12

I really like the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice for it’s subtle use of colours and patterns in costumes and decorating to reflect the events unfolding on screen. When I first noticed it I thought it was accidental but now I can’t help but see it.


#13

Haha. Reminds me of puke.