A talk with Giovanni Marra from Pantone

Pantone is practically synonymous with color, and since its founder Lawrence Herbert created his famous color matching system in 1963, the company has worked alongside the full scope of the creative industries, working to keep pace with the changing demands of technology, aesthetics and culture and their impact on the use of color. This week Pantone is sponsoring the inaugural Print’s Color Conference at the ADC, and Giovanni Marra, Pantone’s Director of Corporate Marketing, took some time to answer a few questions.

Pantone is the lead sponsor of Print’s Color Conference. Why did you decide to get involved with the event? What will attendees be able to do at the Pantone table?
We knew we wanted to be involved in this conference from the start. PRINT and the ADC have a long history in the creative community and we felt they would organize an exciting event. We knew that it would be great event to share our color expertise and learn from the other speakers and guests. At the event, we will have two large canvases and paint in PANTONE Colors. Attendees will be able to express their creativity and love of color on the canvases. By the end of the conference we hope to have two beautiful pieces that we will auction off for charity.

Like every aspect of the creative industries, the use of color has changed-and keeps changing–in the digital age. What do you see as the biggest color challenges facing the field as platforms move to hand-held and mobile?
Based on current trends, the smart phone and tablet might well be the lead media consumption devices in the near future. This is great for consumers but presents serious challenges for brands. These new portable devices all display color differently and inconsistently. Much effort has been spent over the years ensuring that brand colors looked consistent in ads, on packaging, apparel, signs, etc. Very little effort has been made so far to ensure brand colors look consistent on mobile screens. The excitement now is around developing an "interactive app" for a mobile device and few people are concerned yet if the colors look right. Eventually more effort will be placed on color controlling and calibrating these mobile displays to ensure that brand and product colors remain consistent. Pantone has been doing much research and development in this category to help designers and brand owners control their colors in the mobile space. We recently upgraded our myPANTONE mobile app to allow you to calibrate the colors within the app to display properly.

Pantone’s 2011 color of the year is Honeysuckle. Do people get fired up about that choice-what kind of response, positive and negative, do you get? How does the creative field respond to the color of the year?
Pantone has been running the Color of the Year campaign for over 10 years now. The announcement grows in popularity year over year. We choose a color based on numerous indicators such as fashion, culture, technology, economic and social issues. The color chosen always presents a positive message and is meant to be a reflection of the current times, not just a directional color that should be used in all design. This year’s Honeysuckle was chosen for its courageous, confident and vital aspects and also because it was a strongly trending color in fashion and design. The vast majority of feedback is positive. Many designers use the color of the year in their work (as you can see from all the pink on racks and store shelves this year) and many more use it as a source of inspiration. We will be announcing 2012’s Color of the Year in December and already designers are begging us for hints on what it will be.