“Illuminating” and “Ultimate Gray” are the Pantone Colors of the Year for 2021. Courtesy of Sourcing Journal

By: Eileen Wang

After a difficult year of Coronavirus, quarantine, and millions of lost lives, most would agree that 2020 has been disastrous and are hoping for a better year in 2021. 

In such unprecedented times of uncertainty, many are left in need of encouragement and motivation. Aiming to deliver a positive message of happiness and resilience, the prognosticators of Pantone, trend forecasters that note developments in clothing, cars, interior design, and more and translate them into a color they predict will be the dominant shade of the coming year, have announced not one but two Colors of the Year for 2021.

The Pantone picks for the coming year are a “cheerful yellow” called Illuminating and Ultimate Gray, “a dependable gray.” The announcement was made last week by the Pantone Color Institute. 

In regards to their two color choices, Laurie Pressman, the vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, said in a call, “No one color could get across the meaning of the moment. We all realized we cannot do this alone. We all have a deeper understanding of how we need each other and emotional support and hope.” 

The combination of these two independent colors perfectly conveys the metaphorical saying, the light at the end of the tunnel. Regarding the 2021 selection, Pantone’s press release stated, “The combination … is aspirational and gives us hope. We need to feel that everything is going to get brighter.” The shade of neutral gray, “the colors of pebbles on the beach,” also encourages “feelings of steadiness and resilience.” 

In the selection’s 22-year history, this was only the second time that two colors have been chosen, with the first being in 2015, when Rose Quartz and Serenity were picked as the colors for the coming year of 2016. In that year, the soft hues of rose and blue were meant to blend into each other. However, this year, the two shades of yellow and gray will stand independently as supporting complementary colors. 

This year’s color choices also marks the first time that a shade of gray has earned the honor and only the second time for a shade of yellow. Both shades were added to the Pantone color wheel earlier this year. 

As we wait in anticipation of the next year, the dark, murky tunnel of 2020 seems to be drawing nearer to the beam of light we’ve all been waiting to see. 

A list of every Pantone Color of the Year from 2000-2020 can be found here


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