Pantone Announces Two Colors of the Year 2021: ‘Ultimate Gray’ and ‘Illuminating’


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Each December, Pantone announces the new “Color of the Year” to inspire upcoming art and design trends for the following year. Last year, the color experts declared “Classic Blue” as its 2020 hue, with the intention of “Instilling calm, confidence, and connection.” And although 2020 didn’t quite go exactly as planned, Pantone has chosen two colors for 2021 that represent hope for the upcoming year. Introducing Pantone 17-5104 Ultimate Gray and Pantone 13-0647 Illuminating, two contrasting hues that represent a balance of “strength” and “optimism.”

Pantone decided on the cheery yellow Illuminating some time ago, but as the year 2020 progressed, and the pandemic continued, the team decided to rethink their decision. With the addition of Ultimate Gray, the pairing seems more thoughtful and representative of the time. However, the gray hue is not intended to represent our difficult past, but rather a symbol of how we are stronger as we move forward together. “PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray is emblematic of solid and dependable elements which are everlasting and provide a firm foundation,” says Pantone. “The colors of pebbles on the beach and natural elements whose weathered appearance highlights an ability to stand the test of time, Ultimate Gray quietly assures, encouraging feelings of composure, steadiness and resilience.”

Ultimate Gray is supported by Illuminating, resulting in a pairing that symbolizes a better future for 2021. “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 Pantone. “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.”

The Pantone 2021 Color of the Year is not just one, but two colors: PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray and PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating.

Pantone Color of the Year 2021

The contrasting hues represent a balance of “strength” and “optimism” for the future.

Pantone: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Youtube

All photos via Pantone. 

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Emma Taggart

Emma Taggart is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. Originally from Northern Ireland, she is an artist now based in Berlin. After graduating with a BA in Fashion and Textile Design in 2013, Emma decided to combine her love of art with her passion for writing. Emma has contributed to various art and culture publications, with an aim to promote and share the work of inspiring modern creatives. While she writes every day, she’s also devoted to her own creative outlet—Emma hand-draws illustrations and is currently learning 2D animation.
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