Ever wanted to get to know Lee a little better? Or wondered what a color expert does? Here are Lee’s most-asked interview questions.

When did you first realize that color was an important factor in your life?

A dark asian-inspired room with Japanese LacquerI don’t ever remember a time when color wasn’t important to me.  When I was a teen, my mom gave me free rein in my bedroom. I chose a Chinese-influenced room with red walls and an enameled black desk. I’ve never been curtailed from the use of color, I’ve only been encouraged.   

Are there rules of color use that we should be following?

Keep an open mind. There are so many urban legends that fly around the internet that I try to dispel like the old rules about what-goes-with-what. If you have a favorite color, you can find a way to make it work.

How did you become the Pantone color expert? 

In the ’80s, the man who started Pantone, Lawrence Herbert, started to think about the psychology of color; ‘Why do people choose a color?’ ‘What does that color mean?’. Then someone gave him a copy of my first book at the same time he was looking for an executive director for the Pantone Color Institute—and he thought I was a good fit.

Cerulean Blue, the 2000 Pantone Color of the yearWhat was the first color of the year? 

In 1999 we were all worried about “Y2K” and whether our computers would crash. We chose a color for 2000 that would personify the future: Cerulean Blue—because it was inviting, hopeful, clean, and enduring. We wanted to embrace the idea of the steadfast, constant sky.

Why do clients call you in? 

They often need color validation. My daughter, Beatrice, is also my color associate, and we help them make decisions about their product color choices or any other aspect of color usage that is important to them. Color is not just “let’s throw the darts at the Pantone charts and see where it lands”, it requires research and it’s based on a lot of criteria, not the least of which is knowing about your target audience and their lifestyle.

What color is the exterior of your home? The exterior of Leatrice Eiseman's home

I live in Tucson where the desert colors are a huge influence.  The main portion of the house is done in a warm Pantone color called Desert Dust, a good background to my colorful plantings and outdoor furnishings.

The interior?

There are a number of desert-inspired colors, however, the master bedroom is a complete surprise as it is a vibrant periwinkle blue, not unlike the Pantone color of the year, Vey Peri.  It is an exciting backdrop to some of my favorite paintings and my collection of vintage beaded handbags.  It also compliments the dark wood patina of some of the furnishings and the wood floor.A room painted deep blue with framed art on the wall

You also name Pantone colors, what are some of your favorite names?

To name just a few: Mimosa, Brandied Melon, Grenadine, Tigerlily, Campanula, Evening Primrose, and Chocolate Truffle.

a model wears a brilliant purple gown on the runwayYour personal favorite color?  That’s like asking which is my favorite child… It has changed over the years but I find myself attracted to the purple family. I love the complexity of purple. It has two sides to it that are seemingly diametrically opposed: the sensual, exciting, adrenalin-popping red side of purple and the meditative, quiet, zen, blue-purples.  

Any color advice for people decorating their own homes?  Don’t worry about what other people think. Let your heart speak and don’t be deterred. Let the artist in you come out. If you need some validation, go to a professional who can give you unemotional and honest advice and guidance.

Now go have fun with color!