Pantone Reveals the 2021 Color(s) of the Year

Pantone believes 2021 is set to be a big year — so big that Pantone thinks it deserves two Colors of the Year.

Change has been one of the only constants throughout 2020, so it’s fitting that Pantone would cap off the year with a twist to their traditional Color of the Year announcement. The global color authority revealed that for only the second time since 2000, they’re awarding two Colors of the Year: Pantone 17-5104 Ultimate Gray and Pantone 13-0647 Illuminating.

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According to Pantone, “Ultimate Gray” is a solid, neutral color signifying stability and dependability, while “Illuminating” is a vibrant yellow serving as a beacon of cheerfulness. Together, they are meant as a symbolic pairing of thoughtfulness and optimism.

“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,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “The union of an enduring Ultimate Gray with the vibrant yellow Illuminating expresses a message of positivity supported by fortitude.”

Pantone has only named dual Colors of the Year once before when they appointed 2016 the year of “Rose Quartz” and “Serenity.” “Ultimate Gray” is the first achromatic color to be selected as a Pantone Color of the Year.

“Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, this is a color combination that gives us resilience and hope,” says Eiseman. “We need to feel encouraged and uplifted, this is essential to the human spirit.”

Pantone hopes that their Color of the Year selections will be used as juxtaposing elements that reinforce feelings of positivity and dependability when incorporated into home design and decor.

“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,” says 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.”