For the past few years, Pantone’s Color of the Year has been bold—see: Ultra Violet, Living Coral and, most recently, Classic Blue. But this year, the color authority is making an even more dramatic move, honoring not one, but two Colors of the Year.
The institute just revealed that it’s naming Ultimate Gray and Illuminating (bright yellow) as the colors of 2021. We’ll give you a minute to let that sink in, since it took us a few moments to understand whether the combination will look chic or resemble an elementary school science project.
This is the first time Pantone has honored two Colors of the Year. (Back in 2016, the brand announced two hues—Serenity and Rose Quartz—but they were blended together, forming one ombré, cotton candy-like gradient.) According to the Color Institute, gray and yellow represent “a marriage of color conveying a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting.”
In a statement, Pantone Color Institute executive director Leatrice Eiseman explained that while it’s unusual to select two colors, it was a no-brainer after the year we’ve had.
“The selection of two independent colors 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 color 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,” she said. “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.”
We fully support the message. However, we’re not fully convinced that highlighter yellow will complement our gray color scheme. Then again, after the year that was 2020, anything is possible.