A palette to appeal to the palate

Colossal had some fun fruits-and-vegetables images up last week. These are by Florent Tanet.

By Florent Tanet


The linear arrangement of green tints and tones reminded me a little bit of those swatch strips you might pick up from the home improvement store to compare shades of paint, which in turn reminded me of these Pantone tarts by food designer Emilie de Griottes:

redpantonetart lemonpantonetart

Both of these photographers are playfully invoking the frames of the designer’s toolkit: swatches, gradations, color charts. The fruit is rather small in each image, deeply framed by their surroundings (the worktable in de Griottes; the  featureless swatch-like space in Tanet). But seeing food arranged in these tidy lines and rectangles reminded me that I’m used to the opposite effect: sometimes swatches and color palette sell color by appealing to the palate. If you’re someone who enjoys looking at swatches, you’ll understand what I mean: color can be appetizing. A strip of color gradations at the hardware store is presented like a platter or a buffet: we’re meant to  choose what we like best, but it’s the total effect of the array of offerings that makes the mouth water. Pantone colors swatches, in all their juicy color saturation, are so appealing that the swatch itself is a commodity: I’m guilty of buying some Pantone merchandise (greeting cards) since I started a design-related job, but long before I knew what Pantone was, I was attracted to the candy-colored displays of Pantone mugs in offbeat gift shops. The most popular of these tend to come in jewel tones, but the colors we think of as rich or jewellike are often described in terms of fruit, candy, or spices (even though most edible items don’t have such vivid coloration). For example, take a look at the last few Pantone colors of the year: 2012 Tangerine Tango, 2011 Honeysuckle, 2009 Mimosa, 2007 Chili Pepper. The 2013 Pantone color  is Emerald, a literal jewel tone, but more than one of its sample photos depict or invoke foodstuff.  The effect is a kind of mental synesthesia: these vivid colors are meant to make our mouths water.

These fun photographs of designed fruit make that effect literal: the fruit is cut or arranged, made linear and symmetrical and  (in the Pantone tart’s case) saturated. In a word: designed. And definitely appealing to both the eye and the palate.

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