How Pantone became Colour's universal language?

Much more than a color spectrum, Pantone inspires professionals and colour enthusiasts

by Rossana Vinci
9 Love 4356 Visits


We can certainly affirm that the Pantone revolutionised colour communication by inventing a universal colour language. Today, over 10 million designers and manufacturers work with Pantone to select, communicate and approve colour in design.

It all started in 1963, when Lawrence Herbert, Pantone's founder, created an innovative system of identifying, matching and communicating colors to solve the problems associated with producing accurate color matches in the graphic arts community. For the first time, brand owners & designers had confidence knowing their printers could understand and achieve the colour imagined.

Lawrence Herbert's insight that the spectrum is seen and interpreted differently by each individual led to the innovation of the PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM®, a book of standardized color in fan format.

Since then, Pantone has expanded its color matching system concept to other color-critical industries, including digital technology, textiles, plastics, architecture and contract interiors, and paint.


How does a 'Color of the Year' get chosen?


Since 2000, every year, usually in the fall, the Pantone Color Institute declares the "Color of the Year". How does this colour get chosen?

Twice a year — May and November —  the company hosts, in a European capital, a secret meeting of representatives from various nations' color standards groups. The group meets in a room with white walls so everyone can clearly see the objects their colleagues have brought as inspiration.

After two days of debate, they choose a color for the following year. The results of the meeting are published in Pantone View which fashion designers, florists, and many other consumer-oriented companies purchase to help guide their designs and planning for future products.




“The Pantone Color of the Year has come to mean so much more than ‘what’s trending’ in the world of design; it’s truly a reflection of what’s needed in our world today.” – Laurie Pressman, Vice President of the Pantone Color Institute.



Find your Pantone Color here!




Ultra Violet , colour of the year 2018. Why violet?


According to the Colour Institute, 2018’s PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet, is complex and contemplative, suggesting the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead and the discoveries beyond where we are now. "This hue symbolizes investigation and non-conformity, creating a space for people to freely be themselves, push boundaries and express in the ways that suit them the most" – says the Pantone team.

Enigmatic purples have also long been symbolic of counterculture, unconventionality, and artistic brilliance. Musical icons Prince, David Bowie, and Jimi Hendrix brought shades of Ultra Violet to the forefront of western pop culture as personal expressions of individuality.



Photos via Pantone Facebook page - Cover: Pantone® Plus Plastic Standard Chips Collection