Colour: 10 fascinating facts

You see them everywhere, but probably don't know their names, numbers or histories

Illustration: MarieMarie

1. In the 1960s, Pantone founder Lawrence Herbert worked at a colour printing company and was continually asked to try and match colours by clients seeking to replicate a shade, so he devised a standardised colour matching system by creating a ‘universal language’ of colours identified as numbers. Now there are 32,000 unique colour IDs and 2100 colours in the Pantone Home + Fashion system.

2. Pantone’s colour-matching service does bespoke shades for clients and celebrities like Jay-Z, who created his custom Jay-Z Blue with the Institute.

3. Specific colours can be and have been trademarked. Christian Louboutin won the right to trademark the iconic red sole on his heels. Louboutin took Yves Saint Laurent to court after they released a shoe collection with a similar red sole.

4. Due to the popularity of a turquoise gemstone in the 19th Century, founder of Tiffany and Co., Charles Lewis Tiffany, selected the iconic shade of blue for the jewellery’s boxing which later went on to represent the exclusive brand as a whole.  The colour, too, is now a registered trademark.

5. According to The New York Times, Calvin Klein kept a Pantone chip in the kitchen to signal to his chef what colour he wanted his coffee to be.

6. Red and yellow are the most appetising colours, which is why they are used consistently throughout food packaging and advertising.

7. Women are much better than men at distinguishing shades of red, due to the perception of it corresponding to the X-chromosome.

8. Colours actually affect depth perception; we perceive warm colours being closer and colours with cool undertones being further away.

9. In April 2015, Pantone announced the creation of Minion Yellow, the first-ever character branded colour. The idea came from Pharrell Williams who wrote the music for the Despicable Me franchise.

10. Blue was the last colour to appear across every language. Without a name to go by, there’s evidence to suggest that blue may not have been seen at all. Namibia’s Himba tribe still has no word for it.

Mind boggling! 

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