Whitehot Magazine

In Living Coral: The Pantone Pantry’s Colorific Savannah Adventure

Savannah 2019, Spring Pantone Pantry interior

Pantone Pantry Savannah

The Alida Hotel

May 18 and May 19, 2019 


The 2019 Pantone Color of the Year is “Living Coral” and it’s kind of intense. Even a small swatch has a kind of outsize radiant saturation; it’s hard to imagine a whole room made of it. But thanks to the three-city touchdowns of the Pantone Pantry by Tribute Portfolio, you don’t have to imagine, you can just walk right in. It’s a bit like an old-timey curiosity cabinet, a freestanding structure and immersive, interactive micro-environment which, like a technicolor TARDIS, is somehow bigger on the inside, and travels through time and space. Well, space. 

Pantone Pantry, peach and yellow

The Pantone Pantry is a collaboration with the Marriott brand’s Tribute Portfolio line of boutique hotels, which includes the Royal Palm in South Beach (where both the Color of 2019 and the new pantry iteration were debuted during Art Basel), the Slaak Rotterdam (where it’s headed to next), and The Alida, Savannah, which is where we caught up with it in May.

Though undeniably a branding exercise, the truth is the Pantone Pantry as a creative object is on par with any similarly conceived sculptural expression. It deconstructs and artfully reassembles the ordinary stuff of basic luxury in a proper travel kit in a rarefied almost Damien Hirst-like way, taking an inventory of cultural customs, creature comforts and quirky design ideas which we fetishize even as we take them for granted. These charming tactile accumulations are presented within the optical overlay of a monumentally scaled-up Pantone color deck, so that each hidden treasure-stuffed cupboard, run of drawers, secret compartment, and shelving vignette is entirely executed in its own singular palette sices of shimmering blacks and silvers, high-gloss gold and pollen yellow, piquant lime, creamy peach.

Pantone Pantry, artist Will Penny

But the best part is that the back wall hides a secret door, a speakeasy type situation which if you’re shown or figure it out for yourself, offers a big reveal that subverts the tidy charm of the front room in favor of a city-specific work of art. In the Savannah iteration, along with a host of noted SCAD alums who contributed to the art and design styles inside the hotel as well as to the pantry itself, the pantry contains a fantastic tiny infinity vortex of shaped mirrors and projection mapped video by Will Penny. When you pass through the hidden door into into the darkened postchamber, you are thrown into a tiny disco on spin cycle, a black box with a galactic funhouse effect whose charm is amplified by the element of surprise. 

Pantone Pantry

Penny’s work (such as in a recent exhibition at Savannah’s Laney Contemporary) involves architectural engagements, geometric plane mirror sculptures, projected video, and other digital, dimensional, and analog processes to complexify painterly photographic treatments. In regards to the Tribute Portfolio's Pantone Pantry parameters, for this project Penny made 3D image captures around the city, then added textural and Living Coral-centric color aspects, before generating the environment. Crucially, the mirrors serve to not only enact and amplify the effect of the projections and intercede in spatial contexts -- but also to let the viewers see, and photograph (and hopefully tag) themselves inside the work. That’s what turns and image into an experience, or a color into a living color. WM

Shana Nys Dambrot

Shana Nys Dambrot is an art critic, curator, and author based in Downtown LA. She is the Arts Editor for the LA Weekly, and a contributor to Flaunt, Art and Cake, Artillery, and Palm Springs Life.

She studied Art History at Vassar College, writes essays for books and catalogs, curates and juries a few exhibitions each year, is a dedicated Instagram photographer and author of experimental short fiction, and speaks at galleries, schools, and cultural institutions nationally. She is a member of ArtTable and the LA Press Club, and sits on the Boards of Art Share-LA and the Venice Institute of Contemporary Art, the Advisory Council of Building Bridges Art Exchange, and the Brain Trust of Some Serious Business.


Photo of Shana Nys Dambrot by Osceola Refetoff


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