Behind the Scenes with Pantone’s Color of the Year

February 2, 2018 § Leave a comment


Pantone’s Color of the Year announcement has become one of the most influential and anticipated events in the creative world. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard that Pantone selected Ultra Violet 18-3838 for 2018. For the last three years, the color was revealed first in the New York Times in early December.

Along with the anticipation of the Color of the Year comes a lot of interest in the selection. In this post I answer the questions I hear most frequently about the Color of the Year and the selection process.

1. Why does Pantone choose a Color of the Year?

The Pantone Color of the Year has come to mean so much more than what is trending in the world of design; it’s truly a reflection of what people around the world feel they need today. The Color of the Year provides strategic direction for the world of trend and design. But perhaps most importantly, it gets people talking about color and the deeper messages and meanings they carry. To me that’s very exciting.

2. How long has Pantone been selecting a Color of the Year? When and why was it started?

We started naming a Color of the Year in 1999 as people were asking about the color that best represented the millennium. They were concerned about the future (the millennium bug) yet also looking forward to new technologies and the excitement of a new millennium. So we chose Pantone Cerulean blue as the Color of the Year for 2000— as it represented a clear sky and open vistas leading to the future. Next year will be the 20th anniversary of the Color of the Year, which is a big milestone.

3. What is the Color of the Year selection process and who is involved?

As the executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, I lead a team of 10 color experts that travels the world to search out trending colors and new color influences across many industries.

We look at the entertainment industry and films in production, traveling art collections and new artists, fashion, all areas of design, popular travel destinations, as well as new lifestyles, playstyles, and socio-economic conditions. Influences may also stem from new technologies, materials, textures, and effects that impact color, relevant social media platforms and even up-coming sporting events that capture worldwide attention.

We also try to read the pulse of the public. What are people asking for? What are they saying their needs are? What are they hoping for? What are their aspirations? We try to then pick out a color that speaks to that cultural reaction to color, the collective consciousness’s reaction to color, and the psychological and emotional impact.

We consolidate all of these findings and then start looking for proof points and imagery to support the selection. The process starts in the spring of the preceding year. By the end of the summer we are pretty certain of what the color will be. It’s a very exciting, collaborative and intense process!

4. Why was Ultra Violet selected for 2018?

We are living in a time that requires inventiveness and imagination. It is this kind of creative inspiration that is indigenous to Pantone 18-3838 Ultra Violet, a blue-based purple that takes our awareness and potential to a higher level, exploring new technologies and the greater galaxy, to artistic expression and spiritual reflection, intuitive Ultra Violet lights the way to what is yet to come.

Complex and contemplative, Ultra Violet suggests the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead, and the discoveries beyond where we are now. The vast and limitless night sky is symbolic of what is possible and continues to inspire the desire to pursue a world beyond our own. The color is also associated with mindfulness practices, which offer a higher ground to those seeking refuge from today’s over-stimulated and uncertain world.

5. What do you say to people who don’t like a particular year’s color?

I ask them to do two things:

Number one— think about the reasoning behind not liking it and is it still relevant in their lives today? Does their aversion stem from childhood event or a negative experience with a color?

Number two — I ask them to open their minds to the challenge of experimenting with the color, if only in touches or accents and it will generally start to grow on them! How about trying a scarf or an accent pillow or flowers on your desk? It does help to exercise your ingenuity and creativity to make it work.

It doesn’t have to be your favorite color; that’s not the point. The point is to get people talking about color. I say, try it, you just might like it!

6. What have past Color of the Year selections been?

• 2017: PANTONE 15-0343 Greenery
• 2016: PANTONE 15-3919 Serenity and PANTONE 13-1520 Rose Quartz
• 2015: PANTONE 18-1438 Marsala
• 2014: PANTONE 18-3224 Radiant Orchid
• 2013: PANTONE 17-5641 Emerald
• 2012: PANTONE 17-1463 Tangerine Tango
• 2011: PANTONE 18-2120 Honeysuckle
• 2010: PANTONE 15-5519 Turquoise
• 2009: PANTONE 14-0848 Mimosa
• 2008: PANTONE 18-3943 Blue Iris
• 2007: PANTONE 19-1557 Chili Pepper
• 2006: PANTONE 13-1106 Sand Dollar
• 2005: PANTONE 15-5217 Blue Turquoise
• 2004: PANTONE 17-1456 Tigerlily
• 2003: PANTONE 14-4811 Aqua Sky
• 2002: PANTONE 19-1664 True Red
• 2001: PANTONE 17-2031 Fuchsia Rose
• 2000: PANTONE 15-4020 Cerulean

For more information and to view all of the past Color or the Year selections go here.

Now, I have a question for you, are you seeing Ultra Violet everywhere since the Color of the Year announcement? Funny how that happens….


Special Invitation & Offer

January 10, 2018 § Leave a comment

CD invite April 2018 v.2

5 Reasons to Take My Color Design Course

November 17, 2017 § Leave a comment


Calling all color lovers!

I hope you will consider joining me and other color enthusiasts from around the world for my next Color Design Course, April 26-29, 2018, on beautiful Bainbridge Island in Washington State, where I live and work. It is a short and beautiful ferry ride from Seattle.

This Color Design Course is a program for highly motivated individuals. It is a practical preparation not only to increase your color knowledge, but also to provide you a stepping-stone into the larger world of color consulting, whether for your own consulting business or for the benefit of your employer. Many employers see the value of this kind of training and will sponsor you to attend.

5 Reasons to Take the Course
1. Build on your existing color knowledge base
2. Broaden career opportunities into new roles or other industries
3. Network with other color enthusiasts
4. Do something fun and exciting for yourself
5. Add value to your current role and bring new ways of thinking about color to your employer

Special Bonus: You get to spend four days at the gorgeous Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. It is simply stunning and a very special venue for our class.

What You Will Learn in the Course
• The emotional and psychological aspects of color
• Consumer color preferences
• Overview of professional color systems
• Color naming and specifying
• The how-to’s of color forecasting, sources and guidelines
• How to market and sell your services
• Color trends and forecasts

See highlights from our July class here.

I know that you will find the training program a special experience. In the many classes I have taught over the years, there is a special warmth and kinship that develops among the people who attend – personal and professional bonds that continue to flourish after the class.


What Past Students Say About the Course

“I wanted to thank you for such an amazing 4 days learning more about the business of color. It was truly inspiring and I now have so many ideas to bring my passion of color into my job and/or shift to consulting in the future. I cannot thank you both enough for your time.”
—Kari Smith, Workplace Strategist

“Thank you again for such an exquisite retreat experience. I have been reading your books as much as possible ever since. I even got an earth shattering (for me) new color scheme moment at the hotel I was staying at and may change my web site branding. And that was only the first few days after being with you. Life is so different now!”
—Dianne Denholm, Marketing Stylist

“What a wonderful experience. I have been talking to everyone I encounter about color! This experience is really making me think about where I could take color and psychology/trends, etc. Lee has been an inspiration to me the majority of my career and I am thankful for that!”
—Amy Rhodes, Art Director-Packaging

Interior Designer Credits
We have great news for all you interior designers out there! We are now offering 0.8 CEUs for this program. You must have a valid IDCEC number to receive credit.

The cost for the four-day class is $1,775. Does not include travel expenses. Register by February 14, 2018 and receive $200 off your registration.

Hotel and Travel
We have negotiated a group rate of $175/night at a local hotel. A detailed information packet about travel and logistics will be sent upon registration.

Register Today
For more information or to register, write to: Don’t delay; space is limited for this very special opportunity.

Picasso in Paris

September 18, 2017 § 1 Comment

On our recent trip to Maison&Objet, the fabulous home furnishing and accoutrement show in Paris where we go every year to scout color trends, my associate Melissa and I decided to go to the Picasso Museum in the Marais district. It was such a worthwhile experience. As Melissa noted, “It is not only about Picasso’s art, but the building it is housed in was fantastic.”

Picasso museum ext bldg

Executed in classic 17th century architecture, it is one of the finest buildings of its kind and because of the recent renovations, it is in exquisite condition. There are three levels and each worthy of a visit.

One of the most amazing things about the property is that it was originally owned by a certain Pierre Aubert de Fortenay who had made a fortune in salt. As you can imagine, salt was very precious as it was used for cooking, preserving, and livestock feed, and sometimes used as a form of currency. Aubert had been granted the right to collect the salt tax, which everyone over the age of eight had to pay. The building was actually called the Hotel Sale and sale means “salty” in French.

The building has gone through much iteration over its lifetime. When it was chosen to house the Picasso collection, first the city of Paris took over the management of the building, and ultimately the state assumed responsibility.

There has been much written about Picasso. He was a fascinating character, born in Spain, but it was in France where he spent much of his life.

If you are a lover of color, his work is intensely interesting as he went through various color periods, including the famous Blue Period and then the Rose period.

We don’t usually associate Picasso with pastels, but these two pieces are housed in the museum and they are quite lovely in the sense of color.

Blue picasso

Colorful picasso

It is his cubist period that resulted in even more color and is arguably the best known and most influential period.

Picasso Dora

Among the most fascinating of his works that are housed at the museum are portraits of Dora Maar and of Marie-Therese Walter, two of his many mistresses.


Portrait of Dora Maar, c.1937

Marie-Therese Walter

Marie-Therese Walter, 1937

Color Design Class 2017

August 18, 2017 § Leave a comment

We recently graduated 23 students from our Color Design Class that I teach near Seattle on Bainbridge Island, Washington, where we live and work. We want to share some highlights and reflections from the four-day class with you.

CD July 2017 group 1

There were attendees from all over the U.S and Canada, a lovely lady from Pakistan and eight students from Seoul accompanied by their teacher who had taken the Color Design program three years ago and wanted to share the experience with some of her students and colleagues. This was the second year that she returned with a group. It’s really wonderful to have diverse and global perspectives represented in the class.

The program is taught at our local art museum, affectionately called BIMA (aka Bainbridge Island Museum of Art), a repository of some of the best work of Northwest artists. The museum is on the main street of the island, conveniently located near restaurants, shops and within easy walking distance of the water and the ferry terminal. Its lush, colorful grounds and interiors make for the perfect setting for our class.


The attendees get to immerse themselves, not only in the color experience, but also in the beautiful scenery, gardens, island activities and most of all, the perfect natural lighting for viewing colors!

Lee teaching 5

One of the highlights of the class is the group projects. Each group is given a creative challenge and they work together to come up with a product, color palette, color names and a rationale for their choices– and then they present them to the class. It’s fun and interactive — and very educational!

Coastal Drive 2

Mystery 1 board


Another highlight is the Saturday night party I host at my home. We work hard during our four days together and this is an opportunity to celebrate and have fun together!

Party at Lees house with Korean students

Below attendees are checking out my office – where the color magic happens!

Lees office

As in years past, the group really gelled and we had a lot of fun together. Oftentimes, classmates keep in touch (which is especially easy these days with social media) and sometimes even end up working together in the future. Genuinely unique bonds are formed during this intensive class.

Fun class 3 July 2017

We so enjoyed the experience that we are going to repeat it for a Spring program on Bainbridge Island, April 26-29, 2018.  More information about the Spring class is available here.


Yayoi Kusama – Beyond Colorful

July 7, 2017 § 1 Comment


I have been aware of Yayoi (pronounced Ya-Yoy) Kusama’s work ever since doing research for one of my books, titled “PANTONE: the 20th Century in Color.” Her ebulliently colored work burst on the art scene in the U.S in the late 50’s and 60’s and her work has since been featured at many museums internationally including the Tate, MOMA, the Hirshhorn at the Smithsonian, the Art Institute of Chicago as well as in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, South Korea and Japan.

Lee and Melissa

I was delighted to see that her work was coming to the Seattle Art Museum this summer. I attended the show with two of my associates, Melissa Bolt and Amy Anderson, and we were all fascinated by what we saw. It is not easy to describe the exhibition as it is so unique and beyond colorful!

There are six rooms that are part of the exhibition called Infinity Mirrors. There are several installations that reflect light and color in a dazzling kaleidoscopic array, while another space shows her stuffed fabric tubers. One of Yayoi’s most iconic shapes is the polka dot and there are two rooms featuring the dots.


Visitors are provided with colorful dot stickers to affix to any of the surfaces in the Obliteration Room—certainly an interactive and playful installation.


In addition to polka dots, Yayoi is fixated on pumpkins. The SAM gallery guide explains the attraction as a “frequent motif in her work, recalling fairytales and fantasies.” In her autobiography titled “Infinity Net” she explains why they were an important theme in her art., describing the first time she ever saw a pumpkin when on a trip with her grandfather to seed harvesting grounds.

“Here and there along a path between fields of zinnias, periwinkle and nasturtiums I caught glimpses of the yellow flowers and the fruit of pumpkin vines.” She further explains that when she stopped for a closer look she saw a pumpkin the size of a man’s head. She says: “I parted the row of zinnias and reached in to pluck the pumpkin from its vine. It immediately began speaking to me in a most animated manner. It was still moist with dew, indescribably appealing and tender to the touch.”


I learned through her book that believing the pumpkins spoke to her was not an unusual occurrence. If you want to learn more about this very complex, controversial and talented artist, read her autobiography. Better yet, try to immerse yourself in one of her traveling exhibitions—it’s worth the wait!


At the end of the exhibit, we enjoyed a video interview with the artist in which she seeks to explain her purpose and her art.


The exhibit runs through Sept. 10. Tickets are sold out online but a limited number of timed tickets will be available on site at the museum for same-day entry on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information on the exhibit visit SAM’s site.

Creativity is Endless. Talent is Everywhere.

June 27, 2017 § Leave a comment

Whether I am travelling around the world or closer to home, I am intrigued by the colorful originality in window displays, at street fairs, on store fronts and in display cases.

I wanted to share some of my favorites with you.

Some are quirky, funny, downright silly, or upscale and sophisticated.

However, they all show that creativity is endless— there is talent everywhere!!






Bakelite bracelets

Panama hats


Orange dog

Orange cat



Where do you find your inspiration?


May 17, 2017 § Leave a comment

instagram collage May 2017

Hello color lovers!

I joined Instagram last week and I’d love for you to follow along for a daily dose of color.

I’ll be sharing color trends imagery, inspirations from my travels, behind the scenes in the world of color, and more.

Follow along @leatriceeiseman.

Let me know if you’re on Instagram so I can follow you too.



P.S. I’d also love to see you on Facebook!

follow on instagram


Salone del Mobile 2017

May 3, 2017 § Leave a comment

We are still sorting through our 1,271 images gathered at and around Salone del Mobile in Milan last month. It is a huge furnishings show held annually at Fiera, a complex containing more than 20 adjoining football field-size halls. In addition, the Brera design district in the heart of Milan and a host of locations around the city mount fabulous exhibits.

There is a lot of walking and schlepping around involved, so naturally, the first and most important consideration for attendance at the show is the selection of shoes we will wear! We have learned to opt for comfort because of the 15,000 steps as recorded on my assistant Melissa’s Fit Bit.

2-Show shoes 2

It can be slow going navigating through the thousands of people attending the show from all over the world.

Crowds Salone-del-Mobile-Why-You-Should-Attend-iSaloni-2017

We are always looking for evidence of Pantone’s Color of the Year, and this year’s color, Greenery, was in evidence—many show participants got the memo, not only in product, but also in design of exhibit spaces.

Green drawer

Green inlaid flooring

We saw many variations on the shade that captured the essence of the color family.

Greenery chair in window

Greenery ceiling

Palm lamp

Il verdi door

Stack green pillows

Green chair

We begin our walking and photographing in the Satellite, the area where new designers show what prove to be very innovative usages of technology, materials, and, of course, color. There is a fresh sense of fun and adventure coming from students and budding entrepreneurs. Here are some favorites that caught our eye.

Marble plaid table

Bow back chair

Music lamps.jpg

Music lamp guy

Yarn poofs

Orange green ruby poof.jpg

After the Satellite, we walk through each hall taking photos that we feel show interesting and intriguing products and settings.  We are especially en pointe for new presentations of color and color combinations.  Here is a taste of what we saw.

Painted cabinet

Monnisseiur wall w art

Woman painting chair

It’s always a thrill to return to Milan for this fabulous show.

Ciao for now!

IHA 2017

April 2, 2017 § Leave a comment

The International Home and Housewares show is one of our favorite destinations every March. This show is not just about potato peelers, that is for sure.  There are some fabulous new products presented every year, from kitchen appliances (including glamorous espresso makers), to tabletop, (both elegant and casual), to wellness products, and hundreds of other items.

It is held at McCormick Place in Chicago, one of my favorite venues for its beautifully staged ballroom decorated with plants or floral arrangements and special lighting to reflect the Pantone color of the year.  This year it was decorated with plants, most appropriate to “Greenery.”  There were many of my color friends in the audience, some of whom have not missed a show since I first started to speak there 19 years ago!

Bridget Frizee of Kehoe Design in Chicago, Lee Eiseman, Melissa Bolt

Melissa Bolt, my associate, went with me.  I am forever grateful for the design and imagery she puts together, including the arrangement of the colors that show the origin and direction of the eight color palettes for home that I presented for 2018. Large boards showing the forecasted palettes are also mounted in the Lakeside area of McCormick, each one complete with coordinating products in display cases.

We enjoy looking at some of the displays for new products that are also mounted at the show.  This year one of the winners was Nicole Norris, a college student who designed a new ironing board. We certainly do see that as a winning idea!

On the first day for my keynote, I was introduced by Perry Reynolds, Vice President of Marketing and Trade Development, my good buddy, who is retiring and his cheery personality will be sorely missed.  On the second day, I was introduced by Vicky Matranga, another delightful friend, who is Design Programs Coordinator for IHA where she manages the Student Design Competition and the Housewares Design Awards, coordinates displays, and organizes the DesignTheater and design-related events for the annual show.  Vicky is also a collector of housewares items with an attic full of the products that grandma would have thought very high tech in her day (such as waffle irons and steam irons and Waring Blendors (yes, it is spelled with an “o”— a bit of a branding technique in those days.)

Many of you asked where my necklace came from. I recently discovered a local (Seattle) jewelry artist named Melanie Brauner for Verso What a talent!

%d bloggers like this: