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Pink: Complex and Popular

On the surface, the color pink and its connotations might seem straightforward. In modern Western culture, when we think of it, the common association is with femininity, romance, and a certain doll whose movie dominated the Summer of 2023. However, the history and meaning of pink is more complex. How society has labeled pink has changed over time, as has how we think about the color’s use in interior design. 

Color Meaning 

The color pink is childish, playful, romantic, and often associated with femininity. Lighter shades are viewed as soft, peaceful, calm, and kind. Bolder shades are seen as exciting, energetic, confident, and sometimes alarming. It is also considered an optimistic color, such as in the phrase “seeing the world through rose-colored glasses.” However, pink has had a history of being looked down on and viewed as negative. To some, it feels unserious or passive. Some people may even go so far as to turn the positive associations of it, particularly femininity, into something negative.

Pink patterns by Design Pool digitally printed on acoustic tiles.
Patterns used on acoustic tiles.

Pink Throughout History 

Western society’s perception of pink has changed throughout history. It first became popular in fashion in the 18th century at French court. Some think this trend began with the creation of a new and bolder dye, yet others believe King Louis XV’s mistress, Madame de Pompadour, helped popularize the color. Regardless, like purple, it was considered a color for the upper class during this time.

Over time, pink became more popular as synthetic dyes made producing it easier, cheaper, and accessible to all classes. As a result, people wore all shades widely, regardless of a person’s class or gender identity. In fact, the connection between this hue and femininity didn’t begin until the 20th century. Part of this was due to the increased marketing to children by gender, with marketers deciding blue was for boys and pink for girls.

However, in modern culture, pink has made a comeback as a color for all, as well as one for activism. In the 1960s, celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy popularized it in high fashion. In the 1970s and 1980s, the LBGTQIA+ community reclaimed the color as a symbol of pride. Pink has also appeared in many rallies, such as when the pussyhats took over Washington DC in January 2017. Pantone named a shade, Vivid Magenta, the 2023 Color of the Year, and in spring 2023, it was one of the hottest colors on the runways.

Design Pool pattern Mesh Diamond Cane in color pink mocked up as wallcovering in a restaurant.
Pattern Mesh Diamond Cane (P2139)

Designing with Pink 

When designing with pink, your choices will depend on the shade. Bright and bold pinks work best as accent colors in a space, adding a pop of color to refresh without overpowering. Lighter shades are an excellent choice for accents or as a more prominent color in your space, especially if you want a calming effect. You can often find bold pinks in commercial interiors marketing towards children or spaces looking to create a fun experience, such as a candy shop or toy store. Lighter shades are more commonly found in healthcare or hospitality interiors. 

If you want to use pink in your next commercial interior, search our licensable library by color to see all patterns with an option. And don’t forget, we can color match any color reference you have if you don’t see the perfect shade.

Additional Reading: 

Looking to learn a little more about this complex and interesting color? Check out some of our suggested additional reading below!

From the Victorian Era to The Barbie Movie: A Deep-Dive Into Our Love of Pink Interior Design by Cassidy Grubisic, Forbes Home 
The Color Pink: A Cultural History by Anna Claire Mauney, Art & Object 
Redefined, Rebellious, and Not Just for Girls: A Cultural History of Pink by Marianna Cerini, CNN
BARBIE and the Cinematic History of Weaponized Pink by Tom and Lorenzo

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Emma Becker

Emma Becker is a teaching artist and arts administrator working in the state of Rhode Island. She believes art, creativity, and self-expression are essential parts of education. The daughter of a weaver, she grew up surrounded by textiles and developed a deep respect for textiles and their makers.


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