Photographs of Food Paired as Pantone Color Swatches


Minneapolis-based art director David Schwen has been generating a lot of buzz lately for his photo project “Pantone Pairings.” Shared through his Instagram feed (@dschwen), the photos are recreations of Pantone color swatch pairings done with complementary foods of the same colors.

So, instead of combining commonly paired colors, the sets show the colors of commonly paired foodstuffs.

Here’s what Schwen says regarding how the project was started:

As a designer, you’re constantly picking color chips and pairing them up with one another. A while back I had an idea of making Pantone chips out of real household objects—sponges, cardboard, and the like. But while I was finishing up a poster design, I had taped two Pantone chips together to see how they looked next to one another. Instantly I thought of how people pair food together, and that was that. Pantone pairings.



















You can follow along with this project on Instagram through the hashtag #pantonepairings. Prints will also soon be available through the project’s website.

(via Instagram via The Verge)

Image credits: Photographs by David Schwen

  • Riccardo Melillo

    white balance as an opinion…

  • Zos Xavius

    Oh look, more gimmicky photography. He could have fixed the white balance at least……

  • Chaia Marshall

    I love this project!

  • lidocaineus

    I wish to hell people would stop saying things they don’t like are ‘gimmicky’. You may not like something or think it’s trite, but stop tossing the word gimmicky around since your overuse of it has pushed it into the same category as the word ‘hipster’, ie, something you don’t agree with and must pigeonhole.

    Am I a fan of this stuff? I don’t like it, but I don’t hate it either. Is valid as a photo project? Sure. Why not? It’s a basic study in colors and to an extension, the comparison of those colors. You also get the bonus of texturizing Pantone colors (and if you don’t know how vital Pantone is to the design and graphics industry, you’ve got some learning to do), as well as the slightly wry humor involved in the nomenclature he’s given the “colors”.

    I’d suggest instead of using gimmicky as some kind of critique, use actual critical thinking to come up with valid criticism – the composition is bad, the Pantone comparison doesn’t work because blah blah blah, there are technical problems, there are thematic problems.

    Street photography and candid shots were also considered gimmicky at one point. Not everyone shoots like you do, or has the same interests as you do. The world of photography does not revolve around you, and thank god it doesn’t, because different visions expand the field – good OR bad.

  • Lubyanka


    But … chicken and wAFFles!? That’s a combination? I was also interested to note that the ‘cheese’ colour was associated less with actual cheese and more with annato food colouring, and that the ‘chicken’ colour was less about actual chicken and more about one particular way of cooking the skin of it.

    Made me think and notice a lot which to me makes the project entirely worthwhile. And also, pretty! :)

    Well done! :)

  • mastaga

    well its not even close to the pantone colors…..

  • Jonathan Bloom

    I always think of a photographic “gimmick” as a technique or product that is used solely to showcase that technique or product. Gimmicks are contextual. If something is used to further or enhance the artwork than it is no longer a “gimmick”. Whether something is “gimmicky” is subjective to some extent.

  • michael

    chicken and waffles?

  • lidocaineus

    I agree with everything you said. I just feel that people toss it around for things that are clearly NOT gimmicky. Photographers may be clumsy in their artistic vision or the images just might night be to another person’s liking and they’ll suddenly be labeled as gimmicky.

    I’d even be fine if someone called this set of photos gimmicky, as long as they gave some decently thought out reasons for it. It’s just when someone says “what a gimmick,” without anything else that seems ridiculous. It’s like saying “These photos are dumb,” without anything else; I can respect anyone’s opinion as long as you can talk intelligently about it.

  • nullhogarth

    Chicken and waffles is a very common combination in the American South, but restaurants featuring the combo can be found scattered all over the country.

  • nullhogarth

    I’m puzzled how chocolate became purple and soy sauce blue.

  • elaine

    Chicken & waffles is considered soul food and and it’s delicious! I think it might be a Southern thing…

  • Zos Xavius

    Well I’m so glad that my opinion is not the same as yours. The world would be terribly boring if we all agreed on everything.

  • Zos Xavius

    I actually don’t mind these as much as some of the silly projects petapixel has posted previously. The white balance and inconsistency between them kind of breaks it for me. I’m not saying everyone needs to be perfect, but I think these would have been more impressive if the white balance was at least the same in all of them. I mean that’s like a 2 click fix. But you know, maybe you are from this school that seems to think that sloppy photography is totally cool. There are some out there that strive for perfection and get closer to it with every shot……

  • lidocaineus

    You had a reaction, not an opinion, and then described it obtusely using a word that carries no meaning in this context. I don’t have a problem disagreeing with someone, but I can’t disagree with someone who doesn’t have an opinion. It’s like saying I disagree with air.

  • lidocaineus

    Please stop putting words in my mouth (“maybe you are from this school that seems to think that sloppy photography is totally cool”). I’m not sure where you perceived I was a fan of this, when I clearly said I wasn’t that impressed by or, nor did I actively dislike it. There are things I like about it, offset by things I don’t, which I alluded to previously.

    At the very least you explained a tiny bit of your reaction (though I’ not sure what any of that has to do with gimmicks). See? It wasn’t that hard was it?

  • Lubyanka

    It does sound yummy, but also, y’know, foreign and unfamiliar, which to me it is. :p

    Thank you very much for the info. :)

  • Zos Xavius

    Nope, not hard at all. I didn’t think this was worthy of any kind of lengthy discussion, but here we are. Not trying to put words in your mouth, that’s certainly more my opinion than anything.

  • Zos Xavius

    White balance :)