The orange that will rule 2012

Pantone's color guru explains how Tangerine Tango became company's color of the year for 2012

By Jude Stewart

Published December 21, 2011 1:00AM (EST)

 Suzuki-Q concept car
Suzuki-Q concept car

This article originally appeared on Imprint.

ImprintPantone’s color of the year for 2012 is… my favorite juicy, delectable orange, a shade they call Tangerine Tango (or Pantone 17-1463, to be precise). Get the full scoop, including PMS number-matches across Pantone’s various systems, here.

I asked Pantone’s color guru Leatrice Eiseman for some inside dope on how she and the Pantone came to choose this smashing color. (You may recall Lee from her latest book, "Pantone: The 20th Century in Color" or her appearance at Print’s first Color Conference last fall.)

Lee writes:

“Yes— it wasn’t an easy choice.  I am so happy you love the color.

“Pantone’s Color of the Year is a symbol of what people are needing, based on what is happening in the world around them. I felt that Tangerine Tango is just the color to break the malaise and much-needed today. Walk into many clothing department and you are faced with a sea of gray and black as retailers ‘play it safe’. It’s the bland leading the bland. Splashes of tangerine are a much needed jolt of visual Vitamin C. This color is not a downer, but an upper.

“I love the color in glassware and ceramics as the complexity of this secondary color is more apparent. In my travels to Italy I saw it everything imaginable— but the Italians have always ‘gotten’ orange and Missoni’s entrance into Target has helped to popularize the Italian sensibility within the States. Interestingly enough, saw lots of evidence of the color in my last trip to South Korea— especially in period costumes."

Bormioli Rocco Sorgente Cooler Glass,
$5.99 each at Bed Bath & Beyond

Ancient Korean Palace Costume Complete Set,
$299 at

Lee continued: "Tangerine also represents another direction in autos. Toyota will be releasing a new model in this glorious color next year, which was featured at the Tokyo Auto Show."

Toyota GT 86, from

Suzuki-Q concept car

Lee sums up the choice firmly: “Were there any other contenders for this year's Color of the Year? Not even close.”

A quick search of that magnificent trove of color-palettes, COLOURLovers, gives you a taste of tangerine’s versatility and pop:

I’m no color-prognosticator, but I’m going to award myself bonus points for sighting this gorgeous hue on the horizon over a year ago. I dubbed it “Flame Orange,” a shade that leaned a bit more towards a saturated orange-pink blend. But I think you’ll agree: both this color and Pantone’s are hot, hot, hot.

Copyright F+W Media Inc. 2011.

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Jude Stewart

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