Pantone picks a pair of colours as its Colour of the Year 2021: Ultimate Gray and Illuminating

by Asih Jenie  /   December 10, 2020

Pantone Colour of the Year 2021 is a grey and yellow pairing that aptly conveys strength and hopefulness.

Pantone has just revealed its Colour of the Year 2021 and it’s not just one colour, but two: medium tone grey Pantone 17-5104 Ultimate Gray, and soft sunshine yellow Pantone 13-0647 Illuminating.

The duo of colours aims to create an aspirational pairing, the grey expressing robustness, thoughtfulness and resilience while the yellow conveying optimism, hope and better days – somewhat an apt reflection of what we feel as we transition from the year 2020 to 2021.

 “The selection of two independent colours 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 colour or one person, it’s about more than one. The union of an enduring Ultimate Gray with the vibrant yellow Illuminating expresses a message of positivity supported by fortitude,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Colour Institute.

She adds: “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 Pantone Colour of the Year reflects what is taking place in our global culture, expressing what people are looking for that colour can hope to answer,” added Laurie Pressman, VP of the Pantone Colour Institute. “As society continues to recognise colour as a critical form of communication, and a way to symbolise thoughts and ideas, many designers and brands are embracing the language of colour to engage and connect.”

In home and decor, grey and yellow make a great balancing pair to set the mood in any room, with grey as the neutral tone and yellow as an accent that inject a dose of sunshine and positivity. Flip the ratio for a bright, yellow room with a grey accent that lends a grounding and stately touch.

Some ideas from Pantone:

  • Juxtapose Illuminating with Ultimate Gray in table linens, sheeting and home accessories including pillows and tabletop to infuse vitality and liveliness to a room. 
  • Paint a front door in bright yellow Illuminating to convey a warm and welcoming message when supported by solid and dependable Ultimate Gray in the exterior finishes. 

For packaging and multimedia design, the colour pairing pops, offering visually noticeable message no matter where it appears, expressing reliability and wisdom with a touch of friendliness and vitality.  

In fashion, the juxtaposition of strength and sunshine is predicted to be popular in activewear and outerwear while in beauty products, the mix of cool grey and warm yellow make for a dramatic statement.