Sometime around 2012, a pinkish hue began to slowly enter the national consciousness. It did not take long before this tone increased in popularity, showing up in the design of the eponymous Grand Budapest Hotel and “rose gold” iPhones.
Eventually the color became known as Millennial Pink and can be found adorning practically any product. From toasters to hair dryers to trash cans to whoppers – not to mention fashion and furniture – if you want to buy something in Millennial Pink, you can find it.
The reason for the color’s continued endurance is something of a mystery. Those whose job it is to anticipate trends keep expecting the color to go out of style, only to see it pop up again in the latest fashion campaigns.
It is believed that the tenacity of the color has to do with a retro-cool movement that is sweeping across fashion and other trends.
According to an article form The Cut, “Turn-of-the-century pinks (Paris Hilton Juicy sweat suits, fuzzy Clueless pens) and tacky design tropes of the ’80s (Pepto couches) have made an ironic comeback. Millennial Pink’s desaturated shade is a subtle wink back to those lesser aesthetic times, paired with a sincere confidence that we’re doing it better now. It’s cheeky, sincere, and nostalgic all at once – which is perhaps why the earnest ironist Wes Anderson bathed the entirety of The Grand Budapest Hotel in the color – filling us with a bright, wide-eyed wonder and even, for at least a moment, keeping us calm.”
While a tad bit condescending (“lesser aesthetic times, paired with a sincere confidence that we’re doing it better now” – insert eye-roll emoji), the author hits on a larger trend that is expanding beyond the ubiquitous Millennial Pink.
The recent movement of using neon is another example of how everything old is new again. Once relegated to kitschy throwbacks and smoky, old school bars, neon is being used in events to add a touch of class.
Once upon a time, neon was everywhere. Its use was so ever-present it even became synonymous with certain areas – think of the blue and pink glow associated with Miami or the bright lights that are linked with the Las Vegas strip.
Yet over the past few decades, neon signs have become less popular. They are being replaced by LED screens, which, to be fair, are cheaper and more adaptable. Changing an LED screen only requires uploading a new file.
Perhaps it is the influence of electronic dance music (EDM) festivals or events like the Neon Carnival at Coachella (an invite-only party featuring a neon-lit dance floor), but neon is experiencing a renaissance. Check out the neon-inspired party we just put on for Riot Games at PAX West.
There is something wonderful about neon. The construction of a neon sign requires hard work and craftsmanship. An artisan is required to bend and shape those glass tubes using the white-hot heat of gas torches.
Then there is the neon itself – number 10 on the periodic table. This noble gas is one of the most common elements in the universe (it is created inside colossal stars from the fusion of carbon atoms), yet it is relatively rare on Earth.
Neon was discovered over 100 years ago by scientists who would capture gas in a glass tube then add an electric charge to identify it based on the color it emitted. This process was basically the earliest version of a neon light.
When electricity is applied to neon, the gas glows. Interestingly, neon only glows one color: a bright red-orange. To create other colors, different gases, such as argon (which gives off a lavender color), are used in combination with tinted glass.
The first neon sign was sold in Paris in 1912. By 1923, the first two neon signs appeared in North America. A businessman named Earle C. Anthony purchased them for his Packard car dealership in Downtown Los Angeles. One of those signs is still in use; only it says “Packard Lofts” now.
Although the use of neon signs has seen a drop in popularity, that actually makes this an ideal time to incorporate them into your events. The use of neon tends to grab attention. It also can provoke happy and joyous feelings.
There is something about a neon sign that cannot be replicated with an LED screen. The crack and hum adds a tactile nature to the display.
In addition, today’s designers are using neon in creative and innovative ways that extends the usefulness of those gas-filled glass tubes beyond the sign.
Creatively Utilizing Neon Lights – and Colors
Neon can bring a tinge of nostalgia to an event or can add unexpected splashes of color. Neon signs also create a great opportunity for a shareable photo.
Add a Pop of Color
New York’s Museum of Modern Art holds an annual garden party. The 2013 affair had a tropical theme. To achieve the look, event coordinators used all white flooring, chairs, and walls with neon green accents around the tables for a pop of color. The neon really stood out and added complexity to the simple whiteness. The entryway was also adorned with sponsors names made from neon lights that complemented the green around the tables.
Take Their Breath Away
Across the country, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles also hosts an annual gala. For a recent event, the museum commissioned artist Doug Aitken to create a work of art out of the walls and ceiling. The event was topped (literally) by an impressive sculpture made from 2,400 feet of neon-lit PVC pipe.
Create a World of Tomorrow
For the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center’s client and vendor appreciation event, organizers transformed the building’s lobby by adding bold swaths of neon lighting to create a futuristic effect. The impression was enhanced through using angular graphics and minimalist bars flanking the space.
Designs that Shine
Rooms at the 2014 South by Southwest festival were jazzed up through the use of neon tape illuminated with a black light. The tape was laid out in such a way that occasional interlocking patterns were created giving a pop-art effect.
A Retro Feel for a New Idea
Pop-up shops are an innovative way to promote a new idea or product for you company. They generate buzz and the temporary nature of the stores drives people to seek them out before they are gone. Target recently promoted its new “Shops at Target” program by opening a pop-up in New York’s Highline Stages. The pop-up was designed to look like an old diner, complete with a bright neon “coffee shop” sign that included a neon take on the Target logo.
Family Friendly Décor
The Imagination Ball, from the Adrienne Arsht Center for Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, is an event designed for families and children. To engage the little ones, the entire venue was dazzled with neon lights and paints. The final effect came across as fun and carefree.
Designing with Neon
Most of the above examples chose to use neon sparsely. Unless you are sending a very specific message (like a family-friendly vibe), the shock of color provided by neon should be used to draw attention. Typically, you do not want to use it for your entire design.
In addition, be very careful that your design can be read. Even though, neon has been used in signs for years, it can still be tricky to ensure that your message does not get lost in the glow. It is all about creating a harmonious design that ensures the reader’s eyes are drawn where you want them.
Yes, neon is having a moment. Coastal Creative named neon gradients as a top graphic design trend of 2017. As proof, look no further than the Instagram logo. Once a brown, clunky camera meant to evoke a Polaroid, the logo was updated in 2016 to a stylized camera on a background of neon gradients that fade from yellow to orange to red to purple. It was a bold, shocking change that also made a statement about the company and its trendy place in today’s culture.
Neon is making a splash on the runway as well. So, how can your company use neon to add a pop of color to your events and make a statement? Neon directional signs. Table markers illuminated with neon paint. Centerpieces that glow.
We can help provide even more answers to that question. Reach out to The Trade Group at 800-343-2005. We have the bright ideas that will make your company shine.