A bright pink gallery wall

8 Barbie Pink Interiors Showcase the Color’s Evolution

Pink is having a moment—again! The color can’t seem to step out of the spotlight, from 2023 Colors of the Year like Benjamin Moore’s Raspberry Blush and Pantone’s Viva Magenta to Barbie pink-inspired hues. But what is Barbie pink? Mattel’s very own shade, Pantone 219 c, hints at a cross between hot pink and magenta. It’s a color worthy of a candy coating. “Pink has broken gender norms over time; it’s a very fluid color,” says color expert Jennifer Bonner, founder of Boston-based art and architecture practice MALL. “It never stops giving.” The same can be said of Barbie.

Love or loathe the doll, since Barbie’s debut in 1959, she has proven to have staying power, solidifying her place in pop culture—most recently through Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” film, which has sparked Barbicore designs. Like Barbie, which continues to change with the times, so too does the influence, and impact, of pink.

A History of Pink—Beyond Barbie

In the 1950s, around the time of Barbie’s release, Pink played a prominent role in domestic interiors, from kitchen appliances to textiles, adding a post-war pop of color, shares Pamela Klein, color expert and associate professor of fine art at Parsons School of Design. “Pink identifies itself as being other and different and establishes a presence,” she adds. “Those kind of colors were very new in the 1950s, but that shifted in the ’60s.” As the cultural climate changed, so did on-trend colors for interior designs, leaning away from sunny hues and toward a palette marked by deep golds, oranges, and greens.

Color expert Jennifer Bonner in a pink dress by a pink chair
Color expert Jennifer Bonner wearing a pink dress that matches a Ligne Roset Plumy Armchair designed by Annie Hieronimus in 1980. The chair pictured is a reissue purchased in 2019. Photography by NAARO.

In the late ’70s and ’80s, pink made a resurgence, this time in bright shades. “Over the ’70s through the aughts, we saw a range of pinks starting with bright fuchsia and hot pinks and then more subtle pastels [think: Millennial pink] and vibrant pink again,” says Bonner. In some ways, Barbie was ahead of her time, she adds, noting that a Barbie pink play cell phone hit the market before an actual mobile phone in pink.

In the realm of design, pink has long been used for custom projects. “When you think about consumer products, often times pink signifies customization,” notes Bonner, referencing a time when makeup sales reps drove custom pink cars, a recognizable symbol linked to the product in tow. “Now pink is readily available. You can specify tiles, materials, and finishes easily in pink—it’s not hard to find, which is exciting.”

But the shade offers more than aesthetic appeal and consumer insights, Barbie pink channels a physiological reaction for many, akin to a jolt of energy. “Barbie pink is in-your-face pink,” says Klein. “It’s elevating, it’s uplifting—it stimulates our bodies in a particular way.” The color, like the doll, can be polarizing simply because it commands a reaction. “When taking in color information, most of it is relatively passive, but this hue of pink isn’t—it’s aggressive, but it’s also very joyful.” Klein predicts various takes on Barbie pink, and similarly bright hues, are not going anywhere, serving as an antidote to trying times. “It’s almost as if we’re turning the world into confetti,” she continues. “But this pink is being taken seriously, it’s not trivialized.”

A Rainbow of Barbie Pink-Inspired Hues Energize These Interior Designs 

Bold Pink Hues at Beta Cinema in Saigon by Module K Vietnam

a saturated pink cinema interior
The cinema mezzanine features walls and furnishings saturated in pink hues. Photography by Do Sy.

Sweet Treats and Barbie Pink Walls at Cloud & Co. Gelato Shop in Doha by Futura

Pink interiors of a gelato shop in Doha
Cloud & Co. gelato shop features playful pink accents throughout, such as this suspended window seat and ball pit. Photography by Futura.

Neon Pink Interiors Shine at Here-O Donut Shop in Dubai by Roar

Pink interior of Here O donut shop in Dubai by Roar
Here-O features sugary-sweet rosy-pink accents throughout. Photography by Chris Goldstraw.

Pink Design Accents Enliven an Edwardian-Era Home Renovated by WOWOWA

the living room of an Edwardian-era home with connecting with its kitchen
With terrazzo surfaces and pink hues, the kitchen is a focal point in this renovated home. Photography by Martina Gemmola.

Forget White, Barbie Pink Gallery Walls Spotlight Works by Nadine Roufael in Brussels

A bright pink gallery wall
“I enjoy colors, so this is why I created a collection full of colors. I feel it gives happiness, and it’s better to send a message of beauty and happiness,” says Roufael whose works were on display in the “The Art of Living” installation in Brussels during MENART Fair. Photography by Sebastian Bottcher.

Think Pink at Bala in New York City with Interiors by Madelyn Ringo

A bubble gum pink interior by Madelynn Ringo
The Bala locale in New York City is inspired by the 1957 film “Funny Face,” where a magazine editor encourages her team to “think pink!” Photography by Anna Morgowicz.

Pink Ombre Hues at Lazy Sundaes in Brooklyn by Alda Ly Architecture

The pink interior of Lazy Sundaes cafe by Alda Ly Architecture
The wall at the back of the space depicts a sunset, which is a Calico wallpaper that transitions from lavender to warm pink that nods to the Blush Formica laminate throughout. Photography by Reid Rolls.

Pops of Pink Designs in an Abu Dhabi Government Office by Roar

pink chairs around a long white table in a colorful room
Pink pops in the training room at the Abu Dhabi office of the Supreme Council for Motherhood & Childhood, designed by Roar. Photography by Chris Goldstraw.

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