Color Schemes

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Keith Recker, co-author with Leatrice Eiseman of Pantone: The 20th Century in Color, looks at the last century through its changing color palettes.


Keith Recker

Comments [25]

DianafromNJersey from NJ

In a 1950s tiling update of our 1906 house my parents marched to a different drummer of the standard light blue or pink. They chose my Mom's favorite colors: yellow above and mint green below accented with a black floor and trim. Can no longer find these colors from local resources.

Dec. 04 2011 09:09 PM
Art Guerra from East Village

The reason that colors in the avocado and olive range no longer exist is because the primary pigment responsible for that (green gold, nickel azo green, or pigment green 10) is no longer manufactured by industrial pigment companies. It was no longer manufactured after 1985 because some of the chemicals involved in the manufacturing process were considered toxic- but the end product was not. It was a very unique, unusual color which has not been replaced by any individual pigment. A sample of this pigment can be seen at Guerra Paint & Pigment in the East Village. We have the world supply of this now extinct pigment. Pantone is a very interesting color system, but gives little credit to the pigments that create these colors, and more.

Dec. 03 2011 02:06 PM
seema from Boston

Can't wait to get the book!

Dec. 01 2011 11:58 PM

As a fashion designer and general design nerd, I am a big Pantone fan! Can't wait to take a listen to this when I get home. For anyone looking for a present for their favorite designer, I make jewelry out of old Pantone chips:
(please pardon the shameless self-promotion)

Dec. 01 2011 03:35 PM

@nina from brighton beach
Our bathrooms in a pre-war building are also pink and black, but more like light raspberry unlike Mamie's soft bubble gum pink.

Nobody mentioned the turquoise blue and pink combos of the late 50s. I lived in a tract home in Detroit and the only thing that differed from house to house was whether you had the pink or blue bathroom!

Dec. 01 2011 01:00 PM
HLeeAlex from Manhattan

I think our sense for colors is culturally cosmic. I don't think the predilection for a set of colors over time is dictated. I think they resonate and are then acknowledged.

Dec. 01 2011 12:16 PM
nina from brighton beach

I have an original a pink and black tile bathroom from the 50's. Pink was Mamie Eisenhower's favorite color.

Dec. 01 2011 12:14 PM
wb from nyc

Does anyone recall the gorgeous 50's colors for Fiesta Ware??
I have beautiful pieces in soft aqua, dove gray and cream. No one makes repros of those..

Dec. 01 2011 12:01 PM
Nina D from brooklyn, ny

What about beige in the 70s? Our entire house was beige, even our car was beige...

Dec. 01 2011 11:58 AM
G.R. from Flatiron

Someone is talking about colors on the radio -- total mind f***

Dec. 01 2011 11:58 AM
karen from manhattan

I strongly associate Avocado Green with my mom, but I think that copen blue is missing in the 1970s palatte. It's a great combination and my mom decorated several rooms around the avocado/copen combination--especially the kitchen. Also I had an old VW bug that I had repainted Avocado and it kind of looked like a moving army helmet.

Dec. 01 2011 11:54 AM
Tim Goldman from Jackson Heights

Fluorescent yellow, green, pink and orange at so totally 80's!

Dec. 01 2011 11:51 AM
Jayjay from UES

As a costume designer this book is really a gem. I want to say in an age of e-books what a great holiday gift for the designer in your life!

Dec. 01 2011 11:51 AM
Shawn from NJ

Check out the crayon color options through the years. My child started kindergarten last year and the boxes are huge now:

Dec. 01 2011 11:50 AM
Inquisigal from Brooklyn

An appropo segment, as I check in photos with Pantone Color notes to cross-reference against the Pantone chart.

Here's what we use at my job as a digital reference, as oppsed to the old paper fan chart.

Dec. 01 2011 11:47 AM
MP from Brooklyn

I work in publishing, and since the advent of digital printing a few years ago, my beautiful Pantone book has become obsolete - wah!

Dec. 01 2011 11:47 AM
Cintia from Manhattan

Pantone was originally a printing ink specification system so I thought the color samples were based on actual historical usage data. Since Pantone inks weren't widely used before the 1960s, I discounted any of the choices from before that period.

But these are all great colors groups and it makes you see that there are no bad colors, it just matter what other colors you combine them with. And working with a shelf full of swatch books and drawers full of PMS paper was so much nicer than selecting e-colors on my monitor.

Dec. 01 2011 11:46 AM
VikingIrish from Sunnyside

I had hoped for the color scheme for every decade. I would love to know the one for the first and second decades of the twentieth century. Was Pantone around then?

Dec. 01 2011 11:33 AM
MP from Brooklyn

If got them all right, but if 1980s had been an option for the third one, that would have been my guess - I remember a LOT of neon in high school - ugh!

Dec. 01 2011 11:31 AM

I found the survey to be too easy..especially the first set. 1970=avocado appliances.
I would have found it trickier if two of the choices for the second two were switched around (1960s ~ 1940s).
But it was fun.

Dec. 01 2011 11:17 AM
CL from Brooklyn

This is like candy for designer color junkies

Dec. 01 2011 11:13 AM

Phew. Our 3 out of 3 score has confirmed our stature as graphic designers. Also, totally diggin' on the middle scheme. Hi five, sir!

Dec. 01 2011 11:13 AM
Manoli from NYC


Dec. 01 2011 11:13 AM

A bit tricky. Are colors for fashion or interiors or both?

Dec. 01 2011 11:06 AM
Sarah Jacobs

love this survey!!!

Dec. 01 2011 11:02 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.