Pantone Color of the Year for 2021

Cleansing Our (Color) Palettes from 2020: Pantone’s Color of the Year

The Hope We Could Use

Out with the old, in with the new. PANTONE 19-4052 (Classic Blue) is so last year. You know what else is so last year? 2020. This year has potential. This year has hope. We all could use a little positivity in our lives right now.

Every year PANTONE announces what the color of the year is going to be. After 2020 was the dumpster fire that it was, PANTONE decided we need two colors to get us through this year. The color(s) of 2021 are gray and yellow, more specifically Ultimate Gray (PANTONE 17-5104) and Illuminating (PANTONE 13-0647). A pairing that shows that even in darkness, there is always light. A balanced dichotomy. A comforting couple. A duct-taped banana.

Banana secured with duct tape

(Photo Credit: “The Comedian”, Maurizio Cattelan, 2019)


Coincidence or Intentional?

Given that PANTONE’s choices the past two years were two other primary colors (red and blue), we could have predicted that this year’s selection would include some form of yellow. Whether it was conscious or subconscious, in a year of uncertainty, PANTONE chose to give us something reliable by choosing another primary color. You could say that this brings closure on the past while opening a new phase of fresh opportunities.

Pantone 2021 Color of the Year

The Happy Couple

Yellow represents that middle color on the traffic light that we often mistake for speeding up. In 2021, maybe we should apply its true traffic light meaning and slow down. Take some time for ourselves. Focus on our breathing and appreciate the moment for what it is.

Gray on the other hand is the absence of complete darkness and means that there is still light. It doesn’t feel threatening or overwhelming, but rather cool and soothing.

“The union of an enduring Ultimate Gray with the vibrant yellow Illuminating expresses a message of positivity supported by fortitude. Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, this is a color combination that gives us resilience and hope. We need to feel encouraged and uplifted; this is essential to the human spirit.”

— Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute

May 2021 be a year of ultimate illumination bringing light after a very, very dark 2020 unfortunately leaving us feeling blue.

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