By Angela Dowdy
Vivaciousness. Heat. Energy.
Laurie Pressman was forceful in her delivery as she described the characteristics of Tangerine Tango — Pantone’s 2012 Color of the Year — during her lecture for SCAD Style at the SCAD Museum of Art on April 17.
Pressman serves as an international authority on all things saturation and hue, traveling the globe to research, discuss and present color trends. Not only is she the vice president for fashion and home and interiors at the company that produces the “world’s only universally accepted color communication language,” but she is also the vice president of the color standards committee at The Color Group.
While color trending may seem a modern-day fashionista’s recreation, systems to describe and define color have been pursued for centuries.
Jude Stewart’s chronological histories “The Wonderful Color Wheel: Part 1” and “Part 2” present color wheels, prisms, grids, books and more, from the 1600s to present day. The Imprint magazine article reviews efforts by scientists and artists alike such as Isaac Newton’s color theories, published in his 1704 book “Opticks,” and butterfly expert Ignaz Schiffermüller’s naturalist observances of 1775.
Pantone — launched by Lawrence Herbert in 1963 as a translation tool for graphic designers — is quite young in comparison. Herbert recognized differences in individual color perception and created the company’s first numeric coding system for “identifying, matching and communicating” colors.
The company’s strict set of standards promises matches in tone, hue, and saturation, “from designer to manufacturer to retailer to customer.” Pantone now offers a seemingly endless array of products and services, moving beyond the ubiquitous book of standardized color in fan format to a wide range of color books, accessories, paints and texts on color.
The Pantone Capsure is a point-and-shoot device that accurately reads the color from nearly any surface and comes with a wrist strap, pouch and quick-start guide.
Fashion student Zi Lin was introduced to the Pantone system at SCAD. The senior from Wuhan, China used the fashion building’s online Pantone system to create her senior project’s eight-color palette of rich blues, greens and grays.
But fashion professors require students go a step further for coursework submissions.“For classes, we have to go to the resource room to pick our colors using a Pantone library of fabrics and textiles,” Lin said. “They have to show exactly, with the same hue, same saturation.”
Lin seemed unconcerned with alliterative or evocative color names, saying “only the numbers” are required for class projects. Luckily, Pantone’s got her number!
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