[Click to enlarge and enjoy a spectrum of colours, including the Pantone tips for Autumn 2011 trends].
In recent years I have developed a very niche addiction: I am in love with the Pantone colour system used by designers and graphics workers worldwide. For the uninitiated, this company gives every single hue of every single colour a precise number and label – it’s a bit like the most exciting trip to the Dulux mixing department of Homebase that you’ll ever go on. If you’re a visual learner or you thrive on all things decorative, you might have some empathy with my position, which has left me with an extensive collection of the brand’s official mugs and a burning desire for their six cup espresso set. I am planning to acquire the stationery and tins and I constantly scour Ebay for the prized colour charts (though they tend to set you back a hundred quid, so it’s a pipe dream for now). I am like an HD-ready shopper living in a black and white society: hungry for the rainbow that would change everything.
I like referring to shades by their precise name, a habit which took off when I bought a set of oil pastels aged ten; suddenly I could see ‘ultramarine’ and ‘vermillion’ where others saw blue and red-orange. I prefer ‘scarlet’ and ‘blood red’ to ‘cherry’ or ‘rouge’, which sounds incredibly snobby but is borne out of love and obsession. Only recently I have been arguing with my mum about the colour of my brogues, which she says are salmon, but I know are far from it. Interestingly she is used to being right about colours as her father was colourblind (though he loved to paint), so she didn’t face much opposition until I came along. I can’t imagine what it must be like to see the world in blander hues and struggle to appreciate the subtleties between forest green and jade. It makes me angry to buy a product online, only to find it doesn’t match expectations because one person’s ‘peach’ is another person’s ‘coral’.
I truly wish that more companies and designers would embrace the Pantone system and begin to standardise the minefield of shades that we face. With the arrival of HD televisions and sharp camera technology, it’s time to get colour addicted.