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Pantone: The creators of the universal color language are turning 50

Pantone is celebrating its 50th Anniversary with the release of a special, limited-edition Pantone Plus Series. The new kit includes 560 new colors for a total of 1,677.

pantone-products

Also, to honor Pantone´s anniversary the New York Times published the following article:

In the early 1960s, as Lawrence Herbert drove to work in a blue Cadillac with cherry red seats, he mulled over a problem: How to create a “universal language” of color. Herbert, the owner of the Pantone printing company, had just produced a retail display card that helped shoppers choose pantyhose. He had to hand-mix the subtle beiges of each swatch, because it was so difficult to buy the exact shade he wanted from an ink manufacturer. Each company defined colors differently, and when you ordered “wheat” or “taupe” or “cream,” you couldn’t predict what you’d get.

The solution, he realized, was to create a unified color system in which each shade was expressed as a number. “If somebody in New York wanted something printed in Tokyo, they would simply open up the book and say, ‘Give me Pantone 123,’ ” Herbert says; 123 (a daffodil yellow) would look exactly the same the world over. Herbert created a sample page to show how the system worked and sent it to ink makers. Fifty years later, he still owns a copy of that page: “I’ve got it right here in my office in Palm Beach.”

By the 1970s, Pantone was making more than a million dollars a year in licensing fees. “We had a consultant who would get a committee together and find out, for example, what colors are showing up in Milan, what colors are showing up in Paris,” he recalled. “It seems that a lot of designers all decide that coffee brown might be a good color in the same year.”

The Pantone system spread from the advertising world to textiles to food science and has been put to some unexpected uses — like defining the color of a Ben & Jerry’s brownie. “I have matched color charts for wine,” Herbert said. “I matched color charts for anemia blood samples and for walnuts and strawberries and goldfish.”

Now retired, Herbert still takes a proprietary interest in color — in, say, the difference between delphinium blue (16-4519 TPX) and Maui blue (16-4525 TCX). “God created the world in seven days,” he says. “And on the eighth day, he called Pantone to put color into it.”

HEIR COLOR

Lisa Herbert, the daughter of Lawrence Herbert, is Pantone’s vice president of consumer licensing.

What’s your earliest memory of your father’s business? When I was 6, I would go to the office with my dad and play with piles of cosmetics. My dad was matching colors for clients like Revlon and Max Factor.

Pantone has recently gone into the business of “cool-hunting.” Yes, design-conscious industries want to know the colors for the next season. So people have begun to look to Pantone for that.

Pantone declared emerald green as the color for 2013. How did you come up with that forecast? We travel the world and shop the trade shows and look at awards shows and what’s coming down the runway. We also track the sales of our swatches to designers — so we know about the popularity of the colors.

What’s the most unusual use of the Pantone system? Calvin Klein kept a Pantone chip in the kitchen to signal to his chef what color he wanted his coffee to be.

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4 comments on “Pantone: The creators of the universal color language are turning 50

  1. Wow, this post is good, my younger sister is analyzing these things, thus I am going to
    let know her.

    • mcquant
      April 25, 2013

      Thanks! we are happy you and your sister have enjoyed it:) we are ourselves, great fans of Pantone.

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  3. An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a colleague who has been doing a little research on this. And he in fact ordered me dinner because I stumbled upon it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending the time to talk about this issue here on your internet site.

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This entry was posted on April 23, 2013 by in News and tagged , , , , , .

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