RAL K5 Color Fan Deck

Thing of the Month May 2022
RAL K5 Color Fan Deck

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RAL K5 Color Fan Deck © TQCSHEEN 2018, collection Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge, photo: Armin Herrmann, 2022.

The RAL K5 color fan deck puts the world of colors into order. It is not a continuous color spectrum, but a collection of discrete – that is, distinct and isolated – colors. Two hundred thirteen of them, to be exact. 

RAL was originally the abbreviation for Reichs-Ausschuss für Lieferbedingungen [‘Imperial Standards Committee’], now the RAL Deutsches Institut für Gütesicherung und Kennzeichnung [‘German Institute for Quality Assurance and Labeling’]. The complete RAL color catalogue includes more than 2500 hues. Each color is assigned a unique number. You may know several of the RAL colors: RAL 1015, a light ivory, was long the color of taxicabs in West Germany; RAL 3020 is still the color of red traffic lights; and RAL 4010 is the hot pink of Deutsche Telekom’s trademark– now nicknamed ‘telemagenta’. The German Army has its own palette, organized under RAL F9. 

There are other color standardizers besides RAL, such as HKS and Pantone. This year, Pantone invented a new color named ‘Very Peri’, number 17-3938, and declared it the color of the year. This shade of lavender is supposed to symbolize ‘the global zeitgeist of the moment and the change we are going through’. 

Order is also the theme of our next special exhibition ORGANIZING THINGS, which starts on May 19.