Colours: A Universal Language – Quite Literally!

Lo and behold, the verdict was out! On a cold winter day, Pantone crowned “Live coral” as the colour of the forthcoming year aka 2019. Trivial news to most, but colours have a profound ramification in everyone’s life. Colours are found in history, deeply rooted in lores and tales. They form the basis of identity and have various associations to one and all. Every colour evokes an emotional response; some sections are apparent, while some obscure.

What’s interesting to note is that all colours have a language, a blue isn’t just ‘blue’, it could be an aquamarine blue or a turquoise blue! Just like a language, all colours have a different meaning associated with them. Before we deep dive into these lustrous colours let’s look at how designers align their colours to a universal code aka a language that helps them communicate.

Pantone’s Deck Book of Colours

Pantone LCC, a US corporation headquartered in New Jersey, is famous for PMS- Pantone matching system The colour codes issued by this company are used regularly in various industries for referencing and designing, as well as in the later stages of production. Pantone primarily publishes a deck of colours year after year. These colours are presented in a fan-shaped deck book, with tin tones and shades of various hues pasted on a 15cm by 5cm swatch. Traditionally an orange may look different on an inkjet printer and a laser printer, similarly, the same colour may look different on a mobile screen vs. a tv with 4k colour display. Thus, the concept behind the deck book is to allow designers to maintain consistency with their colours despite the various types of equipment used to produce these colours. The Pantone colours have become a universal language that all designers and clients use to colour match and visualise their designs around the world without actually being in direct contact with each other.

Crowning Live Coral as the Colour of the Year!


So how do they crown a particular colour to represent a given year? Well, it almost sounds like a pageant – In a secretive meeting held in somewhere in Europe, the Pantone Colour Institute invites colour standard groups from various nations to hold a two-day discussion on the next successor. After long intensive presentations, followed by discussions, they pick a colour. The colour is such that it can align itself with the current trends, emotions, ideologies, new developments and socio-economic factors of that year. The highly anticipated “colour of the year” is then announced in an annual magazine called Pantone View which is widely purchased by fashion designers, graphic designers, product and space designers, florists and other consumer-oriented companies around the world.

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