Pantone Color of the Year 2021 announced – and it’s a pair of colours! This week we were surprised to see Pantone announce – not just one, but – two hues as Color of the Year 2021…
Experts at the Pantone Color Institute have chosen 17-5104 ‘Ultimate Gray’ and 13-0647 ‘Illuminating’ for 2021, declaring that they are “a marriage of colour conveying a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting.”
Bold, bright, and uplifting, Illuminating is a cheerful yellow that is reminiscent of a child’s drawing of the sun or the visual zing of zesty lemons. By contrast, Ultimate Gray is steady and calm – resembling pebbles or sturdy urban concrete landscapes – and has a more timeless and resilient connotation.
After the tumultuous events of 2020, it’s no surprise that the experts at Pantone weren’t able to settle on just one colour to represent the year ahead. A Pantone representative reflected:
“It became apparent that there was never going to be one colour that could express everything that needed to be expressed — that it was, instead, critical to have two independent colours that could come together.”
In choosing the contrasting hues – sunshine yellow anchored by a steely grey – Pantone were not simply ‘hedging their bets’. They have chosen a pair of colours that reflect the world as we have come to know it: a juxtaposition of hope and despair; light and heavy; bright and subdued; dynamic and inert; fresh and enduring.
Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, commented:
“The union of an enduring Ultimate Gray with the vibrant yellow Illuminating expresses a message of positivity s upported by fortitude. Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, this is a colour combination that gives us resilience and hope. We need to feel encouraged and uplifted; this is essential to the human spirit.”
The announcement has been met with a mixed response. On social media, many have objected to the colours, likening them to hi-vis safety clothing, industrial cement and road markings, and the grey sweat pants of lockdown (!).
However, Vogue referred to the combination as “a chic colour duo for 2021, guaranteed to have a positive effect on your mind and wardrobe”. Pantone has justified the selection by stating that the colours are “conjoining deeper feelings of thoughtfulness with the optimistic promise of a sunshine filled day.”
The experts at Pantone have created five colour exploration palettes that showcase Ultimate Gray and Illuminating to illustrate their versatility – we especially like the mood evoked by Sun and Shadow, with dramatic Blue Nights and earthy Wild Ginger and Oil Green.
We’ve been looking through some of our previous collections and have used a softer combination of these two hues in several of our designs.