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A Pantone Palette

March 5, 2012 — 23 Comments

Okay friends. I really try my best to hide the design geek and keep things snappy and fresh around these parts, but every so often I can’t resist the urge to give a little history lesson. This might seem a little dry to you, but at least this lesson comes with pictures.

As usual, this lesson starts with a thrift. I thrifted a Lane Bryant blouse on Friday. It’s nearly-new, and full of hot pinks, bright oranges, and warm yellows. Basically, I’m decreeing it my official summer 2012 palette, as long as it’s accompanied by my most favourite sea-foam nail polish. After I braced some seriously insane winds to snap a few pics in my blouse, I reviewed them, and defined my 2012 palette.

Nice, huh? Well, not long after I pulled all four colours, I noticed something oddly familiar about this collection of hues. But before I reveal what that is, I need to tell you about Pantones. What is a Pantone? To put it in almost-offensively over-simplified terms, a Pantone is a swatch of colour from the world’s largest swatch collection. The Pantone colour matching system is the definitive voice on colour when it comes to product and graphic design.  Every brand you encounter on a daily basis has a specific Pantone colour that ensures that colour looks exactly the way it should no matter where it appears. McDonald’s red is PANTONE 485C. Barbie’s pink is PANTONE 219C (and holy geek alert, you can buy a Pantone Barbie!) These colours are always a carefully selected, meticulously calculated choice. (are you asleep yet? I’m almost done, promise!)

How does this pertain to my colour-explosion outfit? I’m getting there! You see, every year, Pantone declares one colour as the “Colour of the Year”. They choose a colour that captures the essence of what people are loving, wearing, or using. Sometimes they are prophetic – predicting what’s next, and sometime’s they’re observant – expanding on what they already see.

Well, in a honest-to-goodness unplanned coincidence, I just so happened to be rocking every “Pantone Colour of Year” from the last four years. In 2009, they chose Mimosa (PANTONE 14-0848). In 2010, they chose Turquoise (PANTONE 15-5519). In 2011, they chose Honey Suckle (PANTONE 18-2120). And not two months ago, they chose Tangerine Tango (PANTONE 18-2120) for 2012.

I realize this may not be of any interest to anyone but me, but I totally dorked out over the coincidence. I suppose it pleased me so because it just reaffirmed what I already know – that all of my passions overlap in all sorts of unexpected ways. Graphic design trends spill into fashion trends, fashion trends leak into interior design trends, interior design trends influence graphic design trends, and so goes the cycle. To bring it back to the weekend winds we experienced, life is one creative, colourful tornado, and designers like me just stand in the middle of it. Hats off to Pantone for four years of solid colour choices, and hats off to me because, well, it’s still really windy.