2016 Pantone Colors: Yes, You Can Work With These

There has been a lot of talk and hype about the “2016 Pantone Colors of the Year”. Have you ever wondered why when you go to the mall in a new “season” that all the colors seem the same, that accessories coordinate and seem similar, etc? Well, there truly is a system in place to get people to use and buy certain colors each year.

When I first began designing fabrics in 1981, I was handed a board with some colors on it and I was told that those were the “in” colors for the coming year and I should design my fabrics using those colors.

My answer was that by the time the fabric was printed they would be on to a new set of colors. Even if the fabric came out in time, by the time a quilt was made with the fabrics, those colors would be out of style. I put the colors aside and just did my own thing and still do.

But let’s get back to the “2016 Pantone Colors of the Year” that have many people ready to upchuck. Here they are.

2016 Pantone colors

Rose Quartz and Serenity Pantone 13-1520 and 15-3919.

First and foremost, I want everyone to know that when I recolored my Carnival border print for my new border basic group almost a year ago, I was totally unaware of what the colors of this new year would be…but here it is.

Carnival border for pantones

It kind of looks like I was following the “Color God” rules, doesn’t it? Even more so when I created this quilt, High Tea, for the collection to show how effective the use of a border print can be in a simple design with a border print setting block.

Star and cone quilt 3 sm (1)But never mind. There is a more important point to make. I have taught my color class hundreds of times and in that class I always tell the students that it is my belief that you can put any colors together. It is not the colors you select but what you put with them that makes them look good. It is for this very reason that back in 1990 I developed my Palette Fabric Collection. It contains 150 colors that span the spectrum and they were designed in subtle prints to coordinate with other prints, borders, multi-color prints, etc.

My basic color theory is that whatever colors you select, you have to add whatever colors you need to get those to shade together. It’s like looking at a rainbow where you never know where one color ends and the next one begins–a smooth gradual shading. You can shade through darks, through lights or through medium tones.

So looking at the Pantone colors again, what happens if I add other colors to get those to shade together? The two colors in my Palette that come closest to the Pantone colors are #40 and  #133.Pantone colors with palette

There are many ways two colors can be shaded together. Here are three variations. There are many others.

Pantone blog palettes

So next time you see two colors that you just don’t like together, think again. Bring in other colors that will allow the shading to occur and you might surprise yourself!