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What Is the 2021 Pantone Color of the Year?

Why Pantone selected two colors instead of one for Color of the Year, Ultimate Gray and Illuminating. 

December 10, 2020
Pantone Color of the Year Ultimate Gray and Illuminating

Pantone has announced its 2021 Color of the Year, and it’s a bit shocking. For 2021, the Pantone Color Institute (PCI) selected not one, but two colors to represent the new year: Ultimate Gray, and Illuminating, a bright yellow hue. The two shades work together to weave a coherent narrative of hope and endurance. 

Leatrice Eiseman, the executive director of PCI, says that the institute selected the two shades to express a message of positivity. The grey is practical and rock solid, while Illuminating ties in a warmth and optimism. From home building and remodeling to electronics and apparel, the Color of the Year is an opportunity to think creatively about design.

color of the year gray and illuminating yellow

“The selection of two independent colors highlight how different elements come together to express a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting, conveying the idea that it’s not about one color or one person, it’s about more than one,” Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, says. “We need to feel encouraged and uplifted, this is essential to the human spirit.”

For home design, Pantone recommends juxtaposing the colors. The gray can provide a solid base to make yellow accents pop. The colors do not need to be used in equal proportion, and either can be used as the primary shade.  

color of the year gray and yellow

“The Pantone Color of the Year reflects what is taking place in our global culture, expressing what people are looking for that color can hope to answer.” added Laurie Pressman, Vice President of the Pantone Color Institute. “As society continues to recognize color as a critical form of communication, and a way to symbolize thoughts and ideas, many designers and brands are embracing the language of color to engage and connect.”

The institute selects a color each year. Previous Color of the Year shades include Classic Blue (2020) and Living Coral (2019).

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