How to define color usage through semantic sets for design systems

Katie Cooper explores effective strategies for defining color usage within design systems. Cooper discusses the importance of establishing a clear relationship between primitive colors from a brand’s palette and semantic colors that communicate intended meaning. She outlines a practical framework for organizing colors into foreground, background and border sets with further divisions for interactive elements, inputs, system components and accents. Cooper demonstrates how primitive colors can be attached to semantic names, allowing colors to be changed globally. Her approach supports consistency while enabling flexibility through theming. The article provides valuable guidance for any team seeking to implement an intentional and scalable color system. Cooper’s best-in-class expertise makes this a must-read for both novice and experienced designers alike.