Pantone Names 2 Colors Of The Year—and They’re Polar Opposites
Posted December 11, 2020 10:04 a.m. EST
Updated December 11, 2020 10:05 a.m. EST
Giving 2021 a color is no easy task — it follows a year like no other, after all. But it’s a Pantone tradition to do so, and the company isn’t shirking its responsibility. Just as 2020 has been unusual, the Pantone Color Institute has taken a different approach than normal. Instead of naming one color of the year for 2021, they’ve chosen two: Illuminating, a lemon-like yellow, and Ultimate Gray, which bears a resemblance to wet cement.
Several months ago, the company — led by executive director Leatrice Eiseman — selected Illuminating as the single color of the year. But as the year went on, it just didn’t seem appropriate on its own.
“There was a day when [Eiseman] called me,” Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, told Fast Company. “And she said, ‘You know, we’re giving this a rethink.'”
It was at that point that the team included Ultimate Gray. On its own, neither color would be quite right – the gray would be depressing, and the yellow would be too zestful. But as a pair, the intention is to inspire both optimism and groundedness.
The press release describes them as “two independent colors that come together to create an aspirational color pairing, conjoining deeper feelings of thoughtfulness with the optimistic promise of a sunshine-filled day.”
Here’s Pantone’s tweet on the subject:
Pantone’s color of the year choices, designed to reflect trends in art, fashion, film and design and influenced by lifestyles and new technologies, have become emblematic of what’s happening in society.
“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,” Pressman said in a statement. “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.”
Compared to 2020’s calming Classic Blue and 2019’s reassuring Living Coral, though, Ultimate Gray may seem like a tame choice. Gray has been everywhere, for years. But the Pantone team is aware of this, and says it has tried to take a comfortable gray and update it.
“[We’re] living in gray sweats! We’re not of a mindset, ‘That’s so yesteryear, throw it away,'” Pressman told Fast Company. “We’d rather engage on how to make that gray more fun … and yellow answers that.”
Pantone released a video on Twitter showing ways in which the two combine to create a particular juxtaposition of positive feelings.
Positive feelings are something we’re all certainly hoping for in 2021!