Leatrice Eiseman holds many titles—including prime consultant to international color-standardization company Pantone—all of which boil down to being a color expert of huge standing. A Bainbridge Island resident for the past 14 years, and boasting a corporate client list that has included Microsoft and Ikea, Eiseman determines the best colors for products and design using a blend of consumer psychology and her knack for spotting color trends before the rest of us. The author of eight books, Eiseman also advises individuals on finding their best colors. Her most widely influential role, however, is in choosing the Color of the Year, a selection she’s made with a committee for Pantone for the past 10 years. It’s a choice that sways fashion, sportswear, cosmetics and graphic design. Shawna Leader
SM: Tangerine Tango is 2012's Color of the Year! Why?
LE: This is where the psychology of the color comes in....and where the current economy comes into play. We looked at the color from the standpoint of, which color will engage the consumer's eye and give a message that will be uplifting? Something that has vivaciousness, activity, and excitement in it. The physical aspect of orange is definitely an attention-getter.
SM: What role does a corporate color expert play?
LE: There are so many elements that enter into the correct color choice for a client developing a product—who is the target audience, what need does that product fulfill, who is the competition—because it can literally make or break a product. If you’ve ever painted a room and been unhappy with the result, you know how much color can affect you.
SM: How does living and working on Bainbridge Island affect how you think about color?
LE: I have an office that is surrounded by green, Mother Nature’s favorite neutral color. Anyone who lives in the Northwest understands that. As someone who works with color, it’s marvelous to be surrounded by all this greenery. I never look around and think there’s too much green.
SM: What was your process for choosing 2012’s Color of the Year?
LE: Any time we’re choosing the Color of the Year, we look at various aspects—the entertainment world, the art world…. What are some of the films in production that might have a color scheme that would impact a broad segment of society? Is there a particular hobby or lifestyle that fits many people? What are the colors involved in depicting that particular lifestyle? Is there going to be an Olympics during the year? What are the colors that surround the host country?
SM: Does Seattle have a signature color?
LE: Well, it would have to be emerald! It couldn’t be anything else.
Name: Leatrice Eiseman
Title: Head of the Eiseman Center for Color Information and Training, and the executive director of the Pantone Color Institute
Latest book: Pantone: The 20th Century in Color
Color musings: eisemancolorblog.com
Upcoming courses on color: Visit colorexpert.com