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Pantone wants you to see, taste and hear Classic Blue

By Sara Bauknecht, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in Fashion Daily News

The Pantone Color Institute doesn't just want you to see Classic Blue in 2020. It also wants you to taste, touch and hear it.

For the first time, Pantone turned the announcement of its color of the year - "a timeless and enduring hue elegant in its simplicity" - into what it describes as "a unique multi-sensory experience." It teamed with a handful of companies to create footwear, jam, beverages and even business supplies in Classic Blue.

Then Pantone tapped New York City-based sonic branding agency Audio UX to produce a sound to accompany the mellow hue. It's called "Vivid Nostalgia," a 3-minute instrumental mix that "takes us to a place of comfort and familiarity" and bridges "the gap between past and present," according to a press release.

If that's not enough, creative music platform LANDR released the Classic Blue sample pack of 200 music samples and loops that it calls "a conceptual audio embodiment" of the color.

"As we all head into a new era, we wanted to challenge ourselves to find inspiration from new sources that not only evolve our color of the year platform, but also help our global audiences achieve richer and more rewarding color experiences," Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, said in a press release.

As a style editor, I've been following Pantone's yearly color declaration for about a decade. It's always amusing to see if the pick is a hit or a flop. Classic Blue is an approachable color that's soothing to the eye and fairly easy to incorporate into a wardrobe or a living room.


But does it translate well into a sound? Depends upon who you ask.

"I think they took their liberties on this one," says Bharath Chandrasekaran, a professor and vice chair for research in the department of communication science and disorders at the University of Pittsburgh.

He's an auditory neuroscientist by training. That involves studying the perception of sound and the cross-modal interactions between sound and sight. "Blue from a more symbolic perspective is more calming, and I think that's what they were going for, a larger level abstract symbolism."

Blue noise, he says, has a shorter wavelength and a higher frequency than red. Yet "Vivid Nostalgia" has a more low-frequency rhythm. "That was what was incongruent," he said.


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