Colors play an integral role in our lives. They influence our emotions, perceptions, and even behaviors. While most people are familiar with common colors like red, blue, and green, the world of color is vast and comprises many lesser-known hues. In this article, we will explore 15 obscure and fascinating colors you may not have heard about before. Understanding the nuances of color can enrich our experiences and open our eyes to new possibilities. So let’s dive into the vivid world of unique colors!
Cosmic Latte is a pale beige color that is said to represent the average color of the universe. This is according to a study done at Johns Hopkins University in 2001. The researchers averaged the color of various wavelengths from different parts of the universe and came up with this warm, creamy hue. It resembles the color of a latte topped with frothed milk. Some interesting facts about Cosmic Latte:
- Hex code: #FFF8E7
- Also known as the color of the universe
- A neutral, peaceful color reminiscent of cafe lattes
- Evokes a sense of warmth, comfort and mindfulness
Originating in Sweden, Falu Red is a deep, rusty red pigment used on wooden houses. It was originally made from the tailings of a copper mine located in the town of Falun. Here are some key details:
- Hex code: #801818
- A classic, natural red with a brown undertone
- Has anti-fungal and water-repellent properties
- Used in the famous red cottages of Dalarna province in Sweden
- Called “rödfärg” in Swedish which literally means “red paint”
Feldgrau was the color of German military uniforms in World War I and World War II. It’s a greenish-grey hue that provided camouflage and blended in with European terrain.
- Hex code: #4D5D53
- A dull, desaturated grey-green color
- Helped soldiers blend into the battlefield surroundings
- Associated with dreariness and somberness due to war connection
Phthalo Blue is an extremely saturated blue pigment first synthesized in the 1930s. It has an intense, electric color.
- Hex code: #000F89
- Vibrant blue with a hint of teal
- Known for its staining properties, requires careful handling
- Frequently used by famous modern artists like Matisse
- Has an energizing and stimulating effect
Mountbatten Pink is a brownish-gray color associated with Lord Louis Mountbatten from World War II. Naval camouflage ships were painted this color.
- Hex code: #937176
- A grayish mauve tone, slightly purple
- Named after Lord Louis Mountbatten, a British statesman
- Used as a naval camouflage color during World War II
- Evokes feelings of nostalgia and seafaring adventure
Amaranth Purple is a medium reddish-purple hue named after the amaranth flower. It was popular in the Victorian era for clothing and decoration.
- Hex code: #E52B50
- Vibrant reddish-purple reminiscent of amaranth blossoms
- Was fashionable during the mid-19th century
- Has a playful, quirky personality
- Stands out against lighter colors
Mummy Brown was a rich brown pigment made from actual mummies during the 16th to 19th centuries. It fell out of favor once the practice was discovered. Some interesting facts:
- Hex code: #826F65
- A deep, warm brown with yellow undertones
- Originally made from ground-up Egyptian mummies
- Had a slight, unpleasant odor
- Eventually replaced by a synthetic brown pigment
Tyrian Purple is a rare, reddish-purple dye made from sea snails. It was highly prized in antiquity for its vibrancy and expense.
- Hex code: #66023C
- A rich, jewel-toned purple with red undertones
- Made from the secretions of sea snails found in the Mediterranean
- Associated with royalty and affluence due to its high cost
- Has a luxurious, exclusive look and feel
Shades of Taupe
Taupe refers to various brownish-gray shades. It’s a versatile neutral that works for many design schemes. Some types of taupe include:
- Mauve Taupe – Hex code: #915F6D – A medium, rosy taupe
- Rose Taupe – Hex code: #905D5D – A lighter, pinkish taupe
- Mushroom Taupe – Hex code: #B9ACA1 – A soft, warm, mushroomy taupe
- Silver Taupe – Hex code: #9EA1A9 – A cooler, grayer taupe
Taupe has an earthy, cozy, and relaxed vibe. It combines well with other colors and provides a soothing neutral backdrop.
Russian Violet is a pale violet shade named after the color of Czar Alexander III’s eyes. It was popularized as a fashion color in the late 19th century.
- Hex code: #32174D
- A light, delicate purple with blue undertones
- Associated with Russian nobility and elegance
- Close in tone to lavender and periwinkle
- Has an antique, romantic, royal vibe
Razzmatazz is an intense pinkish-red color name invented by Crayola in 1993. It’s meant to describe a striking, attention-grabbing hue.
- Hex code: #E3256B
- Vivid reddish-pink, slightly neon in appearance
- Coined by Crayola crayon company in the 1990s
- Fun, youthful color that stands out
- Evokes confidence, passion, and boldness
Folly is a bright, saturated reddish-pink. It was originally formulated by British paint company Farrow & Ball.
- Hex code: #FF004D
- Vibrant, reddish-cerise pink
- Developed by Farrow & Ball
- Similar to brilliant rose colors
- Energetic, fun and playful
Byzantium is a rich, royal purple shade associated with the ancient Byzantine Empire. It has regal, majestic connotations.
- Hex code: #702963
- Deep purple with red-violet undertones
- Named after the Byzantine Empire in antiquity
- Linked to opulence, prestige and ceremony
- Used in Byzantine religious mosaics and art
Cinereous describes ashy gray colors like that of ashes or cinders. It has subtler cooler undertones than gray.
- Hex code #98817B
- Grayish taupe with subtle lavender-blue undertone
- From the Latin word for ashes “cinis”
- Associated with ashes, smoke, and cinders
- More nuanced than neutral gray
Eminence is a dark, cool plum-purple tone. It was created by Elizabeth Arden in 1955 to evoke sophistication.
- Hex code: #68217A
- Dark purple shade with hints of plum and brown
- First used in Elizabeth Arden cosmetics in the 1950s
- Meant to capture refinement and ambition
- Richer and deeper than lavender
What are some of the most unusual color names you may not have heard of?
Some uncommon color names include Cosmic Latte, Phthalo Blue, Feldgrau, Razzmatazz, and Cinereous. Many niche colors are known only in specific industries or cultures.
How do colors get their unusual names?
Colors can get unique names from inventors and companies looking for memorable titles. Names also come from distinctive sources like flowers (Amaranth Purple), place names (Russian Violet) or individuals (Mountbatten Pink).
Do these obscure colors have any special uses or properties?
Yes, some lesser-known colors have unique uses and characteristics. For example, Falu Red has anti-fungal abilities and was used on Swedish houses. Tyrian purple was made from sea snails and signified luxury.
What’s the advantage of using an obscure color?
Using a more distinctive, obscure color can help your brand, designs, or art stand out. Rare colors feel unexpected, original, and sophisticated. However, familiar colors promote accessibility.
How can you incorporate lesser-known colors into designs?
Use them as accents against neutrals or brighter shades. Unusual colors may work better for details versus entire designs. Always test colors to ensure they elicit the desired mood and legibility.
The world of color is endlessly nuanced, as seen in these 15 obscure hues. From regal Tyrian Purple to the cosmic Cosmic Latte, uncommon colors offer boundless possibilities. Next time you use color, look beyond the basics. Add a dash of the unknown, and bring intrigue and originality to your palettes. How many unique colors can you discover?