Color of the Year Retreat

Alison SouthBlog


Flying down to Ft. Lauderdale to visit our SOFLO Southies is always the highlight of my year, but paired with Jewel Toned Interiors’ Annual Color of the Year Meeting - ya’ girl was in heaven!

This year was only the second time I visited the brilliant Gems of JTI for this meeting. I can truly say it is one of the most amazing opportunities for color theory a graphic designer could experience. In this meeting, the Gems pick unique Pantone colors to highlight throughout the upcoming year. So how do they get there? Let’s dive in.

Weeks before the meeting, the Gems and our team at Alison South gather magazines, materials, and graphic designs that we have come across in what I like to call "the wild." Whether it is a publication that arrives at your doorstep or graphics in a grocery store, the visuals come from just about everywhere to dissect. And, this year, I was on it.


With the advantage of knowing how the meeting would flow, I began gathering printed material from across the Lowcountry. Being a Georgia Girl in Augusta, I had the advantage to gather a different region’s design style; publications from Savannah, Ga., Hilton Head, S.C., and Charleston, S.C., were gathered by colleagues and clients to help us get a better scope of what colors in our area are trending. So, what did we find?

Residing in a golf town, I can always count on greens being the primary choice in all designs. And let’s be honest, all three states - Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida - are heavily influenced by golf culture. Something we noticed that was unique: This wide variety of greens was typically paired with a few shades of vivid and pastel pink.


Another thing that I found very interesting when researching color theory was that almost every advertisement and design spread in the publications was COVERED with texture. From blades of grass to feathers and even diamond-plated metal, everything was heavily influenced by texture and patterns.

I think it was 11:30 p.m. that night and I snatched up my phone and called Haley Weigle, Regional Vice President of Alison South Marketing, with pure excitement about the discovery. We were ready to show the Gems what we found.

I stuffed my weekender back with my magazine clippings and printouts and away I flew. It’s crazy how traveling lets you focus on your thoughts. I felt like I was seeing colors on my Pantone fans trucking it through the airport.

When I finally made it down to beautiful Fort Lauderdale, we all gathered in the breathtaking Jewel Toned Interiors conference room. (Side Note: ONE DAY, I will own a conference room table and this very specific blue paint-splattered pillow in their office.)

With all of us gathered around this high-top triangular table, the mountains of everyone’s clippings began to be sorted. Interestingly enough, their findings were very similar to what we had uncovered. Tons of greens and pinks, but the overall theme was TEXTURE.


I shared with Joy and Jaclyn how interesting it might be to assign textures to each of the months alongside the color. Once the colors were sorted, the textures were written on sticky notes. The team began assigning colors to each month and pinning them on the wall to unveil the look and feel for each month.

Three hours later, the Gems had chosen the theme. And this year, Joy and Jaclyn gave me the ULTIMATE responsibility of assigning specific Pantone Coated Color to each of the findings. You want to talk about pressure? WHEW. I was sweating bullets assigning each individual color while also asking for approval from the room.

Once the meeting was adjourned, I took a step back and was filled with the honor to get to work with this award-winning interior design firm. This meeting sets up their entire year of color theory, and I was so grateful to be a part of that. Thank you to Haley, Joy, Jaclyn, and the rest of the Gems for including in such a special moment in the life of a JTI Gem!