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Pantone colors are like a secret language among designers. They each have their code names and numbers—some which sound like James Bond-esque when read aloud in the design studio. Whether it’s a palette for a website or a print job, there’s no doubt Pantone has its own signature set of hues (maybe like Crayola for grownups).
It all started in 1962, when Pantone began manufacturing color cards for cosmetics companies. That is, until one of its senior employees Lawrence Herbert bought the company and steered its direction away from the fashion industry. Herbert helped create the first color matching system in 1963, which quickly spread like wildfire. Over the company’s half-century history, Pantone has gone on to create a whopping rainbow of 1,867 colors.
Needless to say, the Pantone matching system is an iconic celebration of color, whether it’s the new annual color or the new ones which are added. Something else what is also fun are the creative projects inspired by Pantone. Here’s a roundup of interesting projects in which Pantone has been used as the core inspiration.
From Perfume to Sneakers: 9 Design Projects Inspired by the Pantone Matching System
Brazilian photographer Angelica Dass, uses the Pantone palette to show how similar and different our skin tones are by matching the Pantone colors with different people, which changes how we think about race.
Houston graphic designer Inka Mathew, who runs Green Ink Studio, has a project where she matches small, everyday objects to their Pantone color. In the project, called Tiny PMS, she shot everything with her iPhone and the series ranges from coffee beans to erasers and Lego pieces. (Read more about this project here.)
Rain Edition is a series of photos by Italian designers Matteo Gallinelli and Giuliano Antonio Lo Re, a project which shows paint-colored water that matches each Pantone color of their chooing.
The Pantone skateboards by Pavel Kulinsky are a passion project of the Polish designer who apparently made them “just for fun.” With a rainbow of colors, the six skateboards are given colored wheels and each with their own Pantone hue.
For the famed British retailer Selfridges, which recently celebrated their centennial, Converse partnered up with Pantone to create a series of sneakers in Pantone 109, a bright honeybee yellow.
Lisbon-based designer Andreia Constantino created a cheeky pillow series called No Pantone. The square throw pillows are available in cyan, magenta, yellow, black and white, proving to add a colourful punch to any couch.
Pantone Color Puzzles are a project by Tad Carpenter, a Kansas City-based designer who is also a co-founder of the Carpenter Collective. This project is for children and teaches them to color match monochrome colors by matching various shades of Pantone. There is a blue city scene, an alien-themed puzzle in purple and a jazz concert in various hues of yellow. The illustrations are reminiscent of Where the Wild Things Are.
Pantone tea actually exists, people. Your Pantone Guide to Tea is a booklet and set of teabags created by British designer Emma Boulter based in Leeds, who has matched everything from a warm violet color to lavender tea to a chamomile tea matched with a bright yellow chip. It’s enchanting and ambitious considering it was a student project she did back in 2013.
Probably the most ingenious Pantone project of all is this one. With cubic containers, nobody really thought about what Pantone Matching System colors might smell like before Ron Hahn did so in his project, The Scent of Pantone. The Hamburg-based graphic designer created the package design for four colors, cyan, magenta, red and black. In what started as a Behance project quickly went viral—his goal is to bring everyone’s favourite Pantone color into a perfume or a cologne. The glass bottles are refillable to save the environment.