How Digital Art Space Artechouse Helped Pantone Unveil its Colors of the Year for 2021

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The Pantone Color Institute celebrated the announcement of its 2021 Colors of the Year this week—yellow and gray—with a dizzying, immersive art installation projected inside a century-old repurposed boiler room of Manhattan’s Chelsea Market.

The exhibit is the work of a digital art space called Artechouse, which partnered with the color research firm on the announcement for the second year in a row. Artechouse has a slate of other similar visuals planned to commemorate the selection over the course of the next year, including a mobile augmented reality experience.

In each of the experiences, Artechouse is tasked with exploring all of the different properties of the given color or colors and the feelings they might stir in a viewer. Pantone said this week that it chose yellow and gray for the emotions of strength, hope and optimism they are supposed to evoke.

“[Last year’s announcement] was a first-of-its-kind installation in that it just solely focuses on one color, and explores different properties of it through multi-sensor,” said Artechouse co-founder Tati Pastukhova, “whether it’s sound, vision or even taste–we have gone as far as creating augmented reality drinks that we worked on with local drink establishments.”

Having made a name for itself featuring the work of new media-focused artists in sprawling physical spaces, Artechouse is now looking to branch out into more of these types of brand partnerships in addition to its artist-driven exhibitions. Last year’s Pantone Color of the Year announcement marked the organization’s first such deal, and it also worked with the United Nations Foundation earlier this year on an AR app.

“We are always looking for meaningful partnerships where Artechouse can be a part of the execution of the storytelling,” said Artechouse co-founder and chief creative officer Sandro Kereselidze.

Pastukhova said the model for conceiving and producing these projects is more similar to how an agency might operate than the group’s usual work.

“Most of the installations and exhibitions that we’ve done to date were specifically artist driven, and this one was more of our creative team putting something together,” Pastukhova said. “I think that one of the things that has really made our, our spaces stand out in comparisons to other museums or institutions is that we produce, we innovate and create new works versus just showcasing.”

The group has, of course, also had to take extra precautions when designing a physical exhibit in the midst of a pandemic. But the co-founders said it helped that the spaces already limited the number of visitors they let inside in order to improve the experience. In some ways, the safety measures have also helped in making the exhibit feel more exclusive and special.

“We always put emphasis on the quality of the visitor experience, so we’ve always had staggered sessions, we’ve always had capacity limitations, we’ve worked at like 10% of our overall capacity of how many people we can have in a space,” Pastukhova said. “But with the pandemic, we’ve added additional social distancing norms, additional cleaning and checklists.”

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