It’s one of those dun days in early April, when the sky is threatening rain and the trees haven’t leafed out yet. In the Meadowlands, the marshes are still a monotony of beige; the surrounding buildings all seem to be made of bleached brick. So it’s something of a shock to walk into the Carlstadt headquarters of Pantone and regard a wall covered in Living Coral, a color so vivid it seems to smack you right in the solar plexus. Pantone’s press materials describe the hue, which the company anointed Color of the Year for 2019, as “an animating and life-affirming coral with a golden undertone that energizes and enlivens with a softer edge.”
Despite the veneer of hype, that sounds about right. Who, after all, can argue about hues with a company that virtually invented the language of color? The Pantone color systems for print, fabric and plastic assign a number and a supporting formulation to each of thousands of shades to ensure exact replication. Design professionals around the world use Pantone’s standards in a host of fields, including publishing, fashion, textiles and paint. Pantone also offers guides that illustrate how the same color might differ on two different surfaces (say, coated versus uncoated paper or cotton versus a metallic fabric).