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Brief Published: 10 Dec 2020

Pantone Picks Two Colours of the Year for 2021

Pantone Colour of the Year 2021: Ultimate Grey & Illuminatin

Global colour system manufacturer Pantone has selected two independent shades for its forecast Colour of the Year 2021: Ultimate Grey (TCX 17-5104) and Illuminating (TCX 13-0647). The grey and yellow pairing is cited as “a marriage of colour conveying a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting”.

Last year, the company selected Classic Blue – a restful, reflective and dependable hue that was intended to instil a sense of calm, confidence and connection (see The Brief). This reassuring and solid hue is now replaced by both Ultimate Grey and Illuminating.

Illuminating is described by Pantone as a bright, cheerful and warming yellow that is “imbued with solar power,” while assuring and timeless Ultimate Grey is likened to “the colours of pebbles on the beach” and encourages feelings of composure, steadiness and resilience.

“The union of an enduring Ultimate Grey with the vibrant yellow Illuminating expresses a message of positivity supported by fortitude,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Colour Institute. “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 that everything is going to get brighter – this is essential to the human spirit.”

Following a turbulent 2020, we anticipate seeing consumers gravitate towards modes of positivity, reassurance and mental clarity in their daily lives to overcome the continuing uncertainty – making Pantone’s colour story apt for 2021.

We expect to see this highly commercial colour duo applied across industries, particularly in activewear, fashion, homeware and packaging.

Themes of optimism, pleasure and protection are explored in our Colour & Material Directions for 2021. See S/S 21’s Analogue for a similar sunny yellow shade, Dandelion, and A/W 21/22’s Protest for an anchoring grey, Cement.