Meeting An Icon: Pantone’s Leatrice Eiseman’s Color Trends Lecture at the NY Stationery Show

As any artist, graphic designer, printer or color individual will tell you, it’s tough to get every to use the same words to describe a color. And this can become tricky when trying to translate a logo, wedding invitation or other color idea.

So Pantone® is one method of doing so. And the most respected.

So for me to hear Leatrice Eiseman  talk and explain the trends in colors that will appeal to consumers from clothing to furniture to nail polish was quite exciting. Her presentation was a fabulous juxtaposition of color and how it was being used, and the trends she forecasts to be strong in 2013.


Part of her job is not just to convey the information on trends but also to travel the world to understand how color gets used, and where it can be used. It’s not always about spotting trends at a trade show where designers and vendors try to show their ideas, but also to walk along a street and peer into windows and she how ordinary items might be treated.

This is then how she works with her staff and the members of the Color Marketing Institute that are from all industries like auto finishes to scarves and fashion items. For her, trends can come from Europe and Asia but just as easily work their way to the US and then return the influence back to Asia and Europe.


She cited 9 different trends and went on to explain what each will influence. And for those of us lucky enough to attend, we got a fabulous handout with the Pantone colors and their hues/shades that will be played out in each of these trends.

“connoisseur”, the inclusion of a sense of history and elegance in decorating,

“glamour” harkening back to the Art Deco influences

“new old school” best typified by the work of a fashion icon like Tommy Hilfiger

“rugged individuals” ranging from the Outback to the Old West

“extracts” where appealing scents from food stuffs and their textures and colors, “footprints” where vibrant tribal colors are bold, like the Pantone color of the Year, Tangerine Tango

“sojourn” inspired by travel and by the exotic

“surface treatments” like liquid colors of ocean, sea and air, plus land-locked colors, and the last one

“out of the ordinary” where the quest is to attract the eye and the imagination.


Holiday trends- no weird colors (thank God for that!) but a lot of shimmery, pearlized with texture and sparkle being important. Haven’t seen that in the catalogs for this year- so I reckon she was meaning 2013. We’ll see

For wrapping paper, she described the need for consumers to appreciate pattern, texture and color- definitely a truism that we have seen for many years already. And essentially traits that we will need to find or design ourselves to meet the customer demand ahead.


Leatrice feels strongly that you can’t stay in your comfort zone. Instead she says we need to look outside our discipline to see what others are doing. So as an artist, just to look at what other artists are doing is not enough. She suggests we look at Concept Cars for instance to see how curves and shapes and colors all work together.

Another trend happening right now is in the colors of nail polish. I happened on my walk to see this very upscale drug store, walked in and immediately saw this expansive showcase of Zoya, a brand of nail polish that Leattrice follows.  I took a picture of this showcase. (The staff was quite curious as to what I was doing- I said I wanted to show my manicurist this line of polish):

Another point she made. Look at what colors and trends are happening with Children’s items and the connections between products and characters in movies (for instance the Muppets)

Insert pic  attached

The colors there are very influential in the public arenas from food to clothes to toys and everything in between.


Think of how Black is used- in fact it is used with every color- but it is in how it is being used that can show you other ways of looking at color.

Look at this picture I took of a long white dress in a window I spied on my way to my hotel.

One of her comments struck me- consider the “color” of the shadow that these irregular “petals” on this white dress create. Are they grey, silver, another color?


So if this subject appeals to you, she recommended you go to or one of her personal blogs or to learn more.

Oh- and the color of the year for 2013- can’t tell you. You see she was asked to reveal it to the audience and well, she said she could but then would have to exterminate us before we left the room.

And she has a new book out, “PANTONE The 20th Century in Color”, my copy which she autographed and then we shared our Tangerine Tango jackets in a joint photograph. I can tell you meeting her in person has been on my To Do list for some time.

That goal was accomplished – and then some –at the Stationery Show.