17 January 2019
A talk with Leatrice Eiseman and Laurie Pressman
Living Coral (Pantone 16-1546) has been named colour of the year by the renowned Pantone Color Institute. Described as “an animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energizes and enlivens with a softer edge”, this buoyant, vibrant and effervescent marine tone is predicted to dominate the design industry over the next 12 months.
In reaction to the onslaught of digital technology and social media increasingly embedding into daily life, Pantone Color Institute states that we are seeking authentic and immersive experiences that enable connection and intimacy. Sociable and spirited, the engaging nature of Living Coral welcomes and encourages lighthearted activity. Symbolizing our innate need for optimism and joyful pursuits, Living Coral embodies our desire for playful expression and emits the desired, familiar, and energizing aspects of color found in nature.
For the last 20 years, Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute and Laurie Pressman, Vice President Pantone Color Institute have headed the committee that chooses Pantone’s color of the year, in an effort to distill the prevailing mood into a single hue. We have asked them to tell us about this fascinating selection process. And much more.
Can you tell us something about the history of the Pantone Color Institute: when, why, where was it created?
The Pantone Color Institute began its work in 1986 and is comprised of global color experts touching every creative discipline and every level of the marketplace. Since then, the Pantone Color Institute team has been conducting ongoing consumer color research, providing color trend and forecast direction on a macro level as well as customized color consulting for product application and brand visual identity to brands and retailers worldwide. The Pantone Color Institute highlights the top seasonal runway colors, selects the Pantone Color of the Year, forecasts global color trends, and advises companies on color for product and brand visual identity. Through seasonal trend forecasts, color psychology, and color consulting, the Pantone Color Institute partners with global brands to effectively leverage the power, psychology, and emotion of color in their design strategy.
Can you tell us about the process of color forecasting?
At a very base level, color trend forecasting is an ability to connect the dots. Color is a language; color trends reflect what is taking place in our culture. Color trend forecasting is the ability to translate what is taking place at a macro level and communicate these trends through this special language of color.
When it comes to creating each of our different trend forecasts, PANTONEVIEW COLOUR Planner and PANTONEVIEW home + interiors, our approach starts with an overriding theme which we see crossing design and we think will be relevant for the industries and the time period for which we are forecasting. From there we create underlying color trend palette stories containing relevant visual inspiration, colors and color harmonies that comprise this particular color story and help to tell this particular color story.
Who decides what the "in" colors will be? And how do they decide?
Our global team of color psychologists and trend forecasters in the Pantone Color Institute keeps a consistent pulse on all areas of color and design. Some of these influences include the entertainment industry and films in production, traveling art collections and new artists, fashion, all areas of design, popular travel destinations, as well as new lifestyles, playstyles and socio-economic conditions. Influences may also stem from new technologies, materials, textures and effects that impact color, relevant social media platforms and most certainly attending influential trade shows including Salone del Mobile—a most important event.
Where should decisions about color palette occur in the design process?
Color decisions need to be made at the beginning of the design process, when decisions on material and finish are also being determined. In today’s highly visual world, color is considered the ultimate in self-expression and should be treated with importance, not as an afterthought where the product color or the appearance of a color is immaterial. Companies that treat color as a cornerstone to their design strategy have an edge today, especially with social media becoming more and more important.
One must also keep in mind that color development is usually one of the most time consuming parts of the product development process – another reason to make these decisions early in the process. And with the critical relationship between color, material and finish, treating color as an afterthought instead of a pivotal part of the design process, can be highly detrimental.
How does color influence design, or does design influence color?
Color is the first element of design in both product and living environments that the human eye sees and relates to on an emotional level. In addition, color leaves the most lasting and memorable impression. For consumers, color influences up to 85% of product purchasing decisions.
What is colour for you: emotions or scientific substance?
Color is both emotion and science, affecting us both physiologically and psychologically. At the Pantone Color Institute, we bring together the science and emotion of color to provide a comprehensive set of solutions for choosing and producing color across materials, so that brands can leverage the power of color and its impact on consumers.
Is it true that colour effects one’s mood?
Absolutely true that color affects one’s mood. As Leatrice Eiseman explains in Colors For Your Every Mood, “From infancy through adulthood, the colors in our environment affect and express our deepest impulses although this is not always readily verbalized or even understood.” We have all walked into someone’s home for example and instantly felt a feeling of coldness if all stark white or at the opposite end, an inviting warmth if a room is comprised of rich browns or brick reds for example.
Which is your color?
For those of us working in color we often look at color as a form of expression and therefore color preferences might change. From a professional perspective it is critical that we keep an objective eye and always think in terms of context. There are no “bad” colors, simply colors used in an inappropriate way within a given context/theme. And that is what we do at the Pantone Color Institute. We help clients to choose the most effective colors within the frame work of a given project.
from left to right: Leatrice Eiseman and Laurie Pressman