It’s hard to believe that Pantone has been around for more than 50 years. This incredible unified color system changed the way designers throughout the world did their jobs, and we owe it all to Pan. In the early 1960s Herbert’s Pantone printing company produced a retail display that helped ladies find the right shade of pantyhose. It was then that he determined the need for universal colors defined by a number. And thus, an invaluable tool (and dare I say) phenomenon was born.

Those of us in the industry have been familiar with the Pantone name for years (going back when it was referred to the Pantone Matching System (PMS).  It’s still a very relevant design tool today, however, the system’s popularity has now become part of pop culture as well.

Pantone recently released its Spring Fashion Color Report for 2013 that highlights the year’s trendiest hues including Mykonos Blue (Pantone 18-4434), Samba (Pantone 19-1662), and color of the year, Emerald (Pantone 17-5641) among others. Additionally, the brand created “Pantone Universe”, a design-led collection for the home, workplace and beyond.  Yes folks, you can now purchase a Pantone 19-1762 Crimson iPhone case, Pantone 12-0752 Buttercup eye glasses, or a Pantone 268c Royal Purple folding chair.

Retailers are taking notice!  JCpenney and Sephora both offered up new lines of vibrant, Pantone Universe inspired products based on this year’s Color Report.

So, what’s the most unusual use of the Pantone system?  One woman went so far as to create Pantone cookies.  But I think Calvin Klein gets the award for most creative use of the system. His chef was instructed to match his coffee to a Pantone chip.  I think mine would have to be Pantone 7582 C.