If the end of the rainbow had an address, it would not be surprising if Leatrice Eiseman of Bainbridge Island answered the door. As the Director of the Eiseman Center for Color Information and Training and the Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, Lee Eiseman is in the business of color. Whether she is consulting about color trends for Lamborghini or branding for Leatherman, Eiseman spends her days immersed in the psychology of color and helping individuals and companies find the right color rational to express themselves at home or on the shelves of a store near you.
A peek at Eiseman’s Instagram page offers a glimpse of life as a world-renown color expert. She posts inspiration images found in nature, art and architecture, travel, food and of course, fashion. When Bellevue Lifestyle was curious if Eiseman ever lives life in neutral she talked about her own fashion sensibility; yes she is often found wearing color, “It’s rare that I would be head to toe in neutrals. I like the excitement of picking out an outfit,” she says. But she also embraces neutrals accented with a pop of color in specially chosen accessories or jewelry. For her work as a consultant, she has areas of her home painted in a neutral backdrop that allows her to evaluate color in natural, northern light, an important consideration here in the Pacific Northwest. Yes, there are light boxes available to help isolate and evaluate color, but for Eiseman, her comfort level is “My eye, judging in northern light, but if a client has different light it must be judged in that environment.” But she is not dogmatic or bossy about color selections and her process is geared towards helping clients understand their personal feelings about color and to help them select the hues that make them most comfortable, “I have to be super objective for the client. I want them to feel like I am someone who listened…that this designer understood me.”
When Eiseman works with clients at home or in business, she says her role as a color consultant is part therapist and part investigator, as she helps people unravel ‘WHY’ they react to color in a particular way. A CEO may initially nix a color choice known to provoke a positive reaction for a product group, and Lee will work to unravel the origin of that feeling, possibly an experience in childhood, and then work to help the client understand their bias and think about color in a new way. At the other end of the spectrum is the person who says they “don’t have an eye for color.” Eiseman insists every one has a perspective expressed in everyday ways such as setting a table. “Who doesn’t want to receive a compliment creatively, to have a license to have fun, to be like kids again… to get that first box of crayons.”
When the Pantone Color of the Year debuted in 1999, no one anticipated the enduring popularity and influence the forecast would hold more than twenty years later. That first choice, Cerulean Blue, was selected on the cusp of the new millennium, a time of uncertainty and change, and fear of a virus, the Y2K bug. Here we are, more than Twenty years later, and the color of the year is Classic Blue. A choice that began the hike to color of the year in mid 2019, a choice that was not out of the blue, but instead was based on trend watching, cultural influences, the entertainment industry and more. Each Color of the Year is released with great fanfare and press coverage and will go on to play a major role in fashion, design and consumer goods, making one question which comes first, the color or the trend? Classic Blue was announced in December 2019, well be before the crush of a new virus changed our world. Yet the quote Pantone released for Classic Blue was a prescient glimpse at how the year 2020 continues to challenge us to grow and a testament to Eiseman’s trend forecasting talent:
“We are living in a time that requires trust and faith. It is this kind of constancy and confidence that is expressed by PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue, a solid and dependable blue hue we can always rely on. Imbued with a deep resonance, Classic Blue provides an anchoring foundation. A boundless blue evocative of the vast and infinite evening sky, Classic Blue encourages us to look beyond the obvious to expand our thinking; challenging us to think more deeply, increase our perspective and open the flow of communication.”