It is not the first time Pantone has chosen a color duo for the year’s color. But it never seemed more justified given the past year. Especially when you consider the emotions and atmosphere that the selected color combination conveys. A matt light gray that, among other things, represents stability – like the tunnel that leads to the much-invoked light at its end. Accompanied by a bright yellow sign of hope – like the light at the end of that tunnel. And while Pantone awarded a pair of colors the title “Color of the Year” back in 2016, it is the first time an achromatic hue has been selected as one of the year’s colors.
Pantone Colors of The Year 2021 Declared
The eventful, turbulent year 2020 is nearing its end. And Pantone, like every year, has tried to determine the color that will best capture, most likely reflect, and most realistically or at least most likely define the mood of the 365 days ahead.
We live in difficult times. And one color tone does not seem sufficient to capture the complexity of the past and the coming year. So it makes sense in many ways that Pantone went for two colors of 2021: the neutral Ultimate Gray and the vivid Illuminating Yellow.
The combination of gray and yellow expresses the optimism, resilience, hope, and positivity people desperately need. They need for an individual, private and community, economic restart. At least, this is how Pantone explains the choice of the apparently contradicting color combination.
Of course, one could also say that Pantone wants to keep all paths open by choosing two colors; Gray or yellow, depending on how 2021 develops. But Pantone’s choice of color of the year has always been far too well thought out for that. The Color Institute wants the gray and yellow to be perceived as a unit.
The colors are intended to indicate the importance of interpersonal solidarity beyond the usual social inequalities and power imbalances. This also explains why two extremely independent shades were chosen. This emphasizes how merging separate elements can create a message of strength, resilience, and hope.
Pantone Color of The Year 2021 Illuminating Yellow
The buttercup yellow called “Illuminating” describes Pantone as “bright and cheerful,” “sparkling with liveliness,” and “filled with solar energy.” More than a decade has passed since a shade of yellow was last chosen as the color of the year. In 2009 the choice fell on a warmer shade of yellow, Mimosa, of which Pantone said: “No other color expresses concepts such as hope and confidence better than yellow.”
A lot may have changed in the past ten years. Pantone’s understanding of yellow colors is not one of them. “Illuminating” is a yellow that represents the warmth of a sunny day, the glow of blooming flowers, and the hope that you feel at the beginning of every new beginning.
Pantone Color of The Year 2021 Ultimate Gray
The apparent contrast to the hopeful shade of yellow is the Ultimate Gray. A much calmer, more restrained shade reflects serenity and composure, stability and perseverance, and resilience and resilience.
Ultimate Gray forms, so to speak, the solid, reliable, and stable foundation for the prudence and security required in 2021. It is the color of cuddly favorite sweaters and natural elements whose weathering traces emphasize the ability to stand the test of time. The light gray exudes calming confidence, which reinforces emotions such as composure and calmness.
Color of The Year – Between Premonition and Reflection
Since 2000, the Pantone Color Institute has published a color of the year that significantly impacts color trends in the fashion, cosmetics, design, and interior design industries. In a way, the initiative has always acted as a kind of mood barometer. The selected colors capture the prevailing zeitgeist every year. In years characterized by uncertainty, like 2020, this often resulted in choosing a color supposed to calm, soothe or build up.
Clear, cheerful shades of blue have been chosen many times over the past two decades. Illuminating yellow, however, is only the second shade of yellow in all this time. And the first was chosen for 2009, also in response to a global crisis. The Classic Blue from 2019, selected just a few months before the coronavirus spread, gave confidence for the change into a new decade – a balm for unstable, restless souls. In retrospect, a very forward-looking choice. In retrospect, Pantone calls it “an interesting dichotomy of feelings,” but also a “choice that was well thought out from the start.”
In the past, the relationship between the color of the year and current events was sometimes more obvious than in 2020/2021: The Living Coral from 2019, for example, emphasized the beauty of microorganisms in the world’s oceans while at the same time warning of their disappearance. In 2016, following the US presidential election, the title of Color of the Year 2017 fell on “Greenery,”; a nod to the US’s political turmoil and a hue meant to symbolize restoration and renewal.
Pantone Color Predictions And Trend Reports
Pantone is known for its color predictions and trend reports. It would be easy for the company to select the colors of the year based on data. But Pantone is about something else. To psychologically therapeutic effects. And these, according to the company, cannot be determined based on data. The color of the year is traditionally chosen in response to the question, “What are the psychological characteristics of a color that can give people exactly what they are looking for and need?”
The color of the year must be organic and true to Pantone’s own standards. And match the prevailing world events. It was foreseeable that the pandemic would influence the choice of the color of the year 2021. And critical voices point to the similarity with safety vests (neon yellow with silver-gray stripes) or road markings (gray tar and yellow lane markings on construction sites) – an interpretation of the colors of the year 2021 that gives little cause for serenity and hope. This is in stark contrast to Pantone’s intention. Or … the paint manufacturer expected exactly this polarization. Because, according to Vice President Laurie Pressman, Pantone’s “[…] goal is to get people to deal with color.”