A few things I learned from Giovanni Marra (Pantone)

We had a great guest lecturer in class on Tuesday – Giovanni Marra, Director of Corporate Marketing for Pantone. First let me say that he has a great job – studying color, travelling to exotic destinations for research, selling color to top names in fashion, design and other industries.

It was interesting to learn about the need for consistency of lighting in color evaluation. For example, fashion labels choose a color and need to match it with the one their manufacturing facility created, so they determine the standard lighting in order to match accurately. (there’s a formula like D50, D65, or cool white flourescent but that’s beyond my understanding).

Marra thinks color trends repeat every 15 years or so, then he mentioned that aqua is back in style from the 70’s. That was a LOT longer than 15 years ago, however the mid 80’s are very much in style again and that was about 15 years ago. Teal defined the 80’s more than any other color.

It was surprising that fashion leads trends nearly three years in advance. Pantone looks to labels like Versace, Prada, etc to determine the hottest new colors, and then predicts them two years in advance. Trends are also based on socio-economic issues (yellow to combat drab and depression, because it’s uplifting, warm, orangey and fun). Then these color predictions may be a self-fulfilling prophecy because they are never wrong. The color trends trickle all the way from Prada to Walmart in a matter time.

One point Marra made that I agree with very much – we tend to take color for granted because we are surrounded by it at all times of the day, everywhere we go. This is true for so many things.

Some descriptions of yellow from his color presentation: luminous, joyful, spiritual, original, and optimistic.

Side note: be on the lookout for everything Africa, which is supposed to be the next biggest trend. One of my classmates brought up the problem of an entire culture becoming a trend. Does this diminish the value of the culture in a way, turning into a commodity? Quite possible, but I suppose it depends on the application of this culture in the design. If it is inspiration for a new product line, I’m not sure if that is disrespectful; but if a company decides ‘Africa is so hot right now, let’s call this ‘Safari’ and proceeds to use colors and textures stereotypically African, that is rather awful. It’s the intention that matters.

Published by Elizabeth Pizzuti

Design, art, and cats mostly

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