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The Power of Colour

Executive Director at the Pantone Colour Institute Leatrice Eiseman shares her perspectives on the persuasive possibilities of colour to inspire new perspectives.

Use colour. Use it in the food that you serve, your home, and the clothing that you buy, it is an outlet for your creativity.

Leatrice Eiseman

The Colour of the Year

“It is colour that creates a mood”, says Leatrice Eisemen, “it brings the initial emotional reaction”.  It is no coincidence that Pantone have named ‘Greenery’ 2017’s chosen Colour of the Year. Evocative of the colour of fresh spring shoots, greenery evokes a sense of renewal. Eiseman explains, “if you live in a big city you don’t always have the opportunity to walk in a forest but you can create the illusion. We can appreciate the need to include more greenery in our lives and most of all being able to take that deep breath that green encourages us to do.”

Colouring Space

“The connection between colour and human emotion is much studied and one that most people relate to”, she observes. “From a personal perspective I feel that a dining area in a home is very important. I have deliberately used what I call a cayenne pepper red. It is a very bold colour and an appetite stimulant. It stimulates conversation and it is a familiar food colour too, it expresses deliciousness.” This principle has also been famously applied by celebrities such as model Kendall Jenner who painted her living room a Baker Miller pink for its calming and hunger-suppressing qualities. 

For decades, psychoanalysts and marketing experts have studied the effects of colour and its ability to illicit strong emotional responses. Vibrant, zesty yellows have enticed consumers through the golden arches of McDonalds and Ikea halls. Smart, trustworthy blues have been recruited by communication-based services like Facebook and Samsung. Within the field of alternative medicine itself, chromotherapy and aura therapy have convinced many of the profound, healing potential of colour and energy.

The Coloured Plate

Beyond the physical spaces we inhabit, the influence of colour also extends to what we eat. “Food, like anything else, is an art,” shares Pantone’s Executive Director. “You want to place food on the plate that is visually appealing and creates some kind of colour arrangement”.   She explains, “our eyes tell our brains what the meal in front of us will taste like via a chain of learned responses”. “Typically,” continues Eiseman, “we would expect colours like ‘Greenery’ to taste fresh, and pink coloured dishes to be saccharine. I think we’ve all had the experience of making a salad, which is mainly green, but what would we experience if we add a few curls of carrot, a few red radishes or a sprinkle of violets? We may eat with our mouths but it is our eyes that lead us to our food.”

As we look to our personal relationship with colour, it is also remarkable to learn that our taste in colour is also profoundly influenced by our geography and culture. “Closer to the equator, people are more open to use colour because the sun has a tendency to draw colour out”, remarks Eiseman. Whether thinking of the bold Marimekko colours associated with the nordic countries of Sweden and Finland, or the red that dots the grey urban landscape of London, Pantone’s specialist concludes, “colour awareness can bring us such joy. It is a huge form of expression for the individual and one does not have to be an artist to enjoy that”. 

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Leatrice Eiseman

Leatrice Eisman is the Executive Director of the Pantone Colour Institute. Known as ‘America’s colour guru’, she leads the Eiseman Center for Colour Information and Training and is the author of six books on colour. Her book Colours For Your Every Mood, received awarded recognition from the Independent Publisher’s Association and was included in the Book of the Month Club selection. Her other publications include “Pantone Guide to Communicating With Colour”, “Colour Answer Book”, and “More Alive With Colour”,


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