Color can evoke a strong physiological reaction, and is a very important component in the alchemy of any visual composition, especially the spaces we live in on a daily basis. Whether it’s office or home, color has a direct impact on virtually every aspect of our lives.Historically, a color’s value was directly related to its scarcity, not so much on its ability to change one’s mood. Today we have access to literally millions of colors thanks to the revolution in advanced synthetic technology. In Paris, France in the 1800′s, scarce and expensive green paint was so highly valued, just by virtue of its rarity, it was sought out as a status symbol. Green rooms then were rarely repainted and acquired an attractive patina from smoke. Today designers may recommend giving a green paint job a wash with brown stain, to mimic the look of old Parisian bistros.Purple was even rarer – Tyrian purple, the color of royalty in Rome, Persia and Egypt, was derived painstakingly from the mucous of thousands of predatory sea snails. The rarity of the color made it the first recorded instance of a color dye being manufactured as a trade.Today, with all of the synthetics available, we don’t have to confine ourselves to any particular palette, and conversely, no color is off limits. How then, do we choose from the millions of hues available? As an artist who has a hard time reigning in my color binging, I’ve discovered one way to do this is by drawing on nature. An artist or designer can take a snapshot of something they see in nature or art and form a whole palette around it. Using the eyedropper tool in Photoshop, we can form a natural palette.For example, you can Google for an infrared photograph of Galaxy Messier 101, taken by NASA’s Spitzer observatory. Using Photoshop’s Pantone color library, I can use the eyedropper to pick wall or decor colors directly from this image, to take chips with me accessory hunting, or I can just give the Pantone number to my local paint shop.These colors were the ones I used to redecorate a friend’s tired living room in 2012. He had a painting that was shades of blue and coral, and refused to part with its presence in the room. It was a design challenge, in that blue and orange are not often thought of as companions until one sees it done. In my atelier, it was taught that you draw what you see, not what you think you see. In interiors it’s the same – you decorate based on what you know to be true about colors, not what you think might work. Blue and orange are complementary. It might seem weird to some, but subdued sky tones and navy work well with the coral and salmon family – any scuba diver can attest to the natural beauty of pink coral against a backdrop of dark blue. In the end, it created a very relaxing room with universal appeal, and especially when embraced in white, it lends a nautical feel.So what is Pantone? Pantone is an American company that was founded in 1962. Today they are a megalithic presence in all avenues of design, from fashion to merchandising. They are in the business of cataloging and predicting color. It was Pantone who announced Cerulean as the “Color of the Millenium” and each year, they meet in a secret boardroom filled with experts to determine both the color of the year and its associated allies, by analyzing trends and behaviors both in the industry and of consumers.When Pantone announced their predictions for 2013, I wasn’t surprised to see a variation on orange and navy side by side. These two, Nectarine and Monaco Blue, are more vivid and exotic, but in a conservative kind of way. Monaco Blue is the color of the year for 2013, providing a seriously modern mood that can update older decor needing a pick me up. The accompanying trend colors are futuristic and exotic – marking the turning point back towards silhouette. Color will still have its place, but it will be more integrated into the design, rather than the main attraction.I love working from Pantone’s color lineup. They are well-respected experts in color for good reason, always offering a fresh, forward thinking perspective on color from year to year – the results of their seemingly esoteric, yet obsessively technical color trend analysis. It’s always easy to follow their logic, if you connect the dots in design trends, from popular application colors, to what’s on everyone’s mind around the world. At the same time, we designers and artists find new and unexpected ways of looking at our ideas. This year’s spring lineup is quite exotic and relaxing at the same time.We can all look forward to blue and green both featuring in unexpected and innovative ways, while at the same time, keeping room for old favorites like the very easy Poppy Red.