Pantone sounds like an Italian pastry that tastes like stale bread with raisins in it, but, in fact, it’s a commercial ink company, most well known for its standardized color reproduction system, tragically known as the Pantone Matching System, or PMS.
Before PMS, a designer would specify something like “I want the background to be carmine,” and the production company would note that on the art and the printer would crank the project out and then everybody would be mad at each other because the background turned out to be nothing like the artist wanted or the client had signed off on and the production company would say the artist was a bitch who didn’t know carmine from cranberry and the printer would make crude remarks about everybody’s sexual proclivities.
With PMS, instead of specifying something like “carmine” and hoping everyone would understand what you meant, everybody has a PMS fan deck, which is a huge stack of color swatches and, instead of “carmine,” you specify 17-2230 TPX and everyone gets what they want. Most importantly, the system includes a formula for creating that specific shade of ink so the printer can get the fucking color right, for once, for christ’s sake. Printers still make crude remarks about everybody’s sexual proclivities, but there’s no help for that.
All that’s fine, but what effects everyone is a sideline Pantone stumbled into a few years ago, declaring the Color of the Year. Pantone is very pissy about insisting it’s not the actual, individual color, it’s “a conversation about ascending color trends that are an integral part of how a culture expresses the attitudes and emotions of the times” and blahblahblah. But what everybody actually pays attention to is the color and the palette Pantone rolls out.
That’s important because the world of designers agreeing to work with that is how Forever 21 and H&M and Macy’s all come up with the same color sweaters each season despite them all coming from different slave labor sweatshops. And that’s important because when Little Miss Teen USA goes shopping for a sweater, she wants one that will go with all the other disposable fashion she already has snagged.
So each year I, along with all the other design nerds, wait for Pantone’s announcement and each year, I roll my eyes at the pretentious, new-agey description and then eye the new color. I liked the 2011 color, Honeysuckle, so much I used it in the reno of my New Orleans house.
This year, for the first time, they rolled out two colors. And what colors they are, too!
That’s right chickens, it’s the return of dusty rose and baby blue, shades that defined the 1980s and which have lived on in every cheap dollar store since then. The Golden Girls would be thrilled.
In case you’re wondering, here’s the official bullshit:
A softer take on color for 2016: For the first time, the blending of two shades – Rose Quartz and Serenity are chosen as the PANTONE Color of the Year
As consumers seek mindfulness and well-being as an antidote to modern day stresses, welcoming colors that psychologically fulfill our yearning for reassurance and security are becoming more prominent. Joined together, Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.
Like I said, blahblahblah. So take heart bitches, Nancy Reagan is dead, but her color palette lives on.