Dezeen Magazine

Ultimate Gray and Illuminating are Pantone's Colours of the Year for 2021

Pantone selects two shades as its colours of the year for 2021

Ultimate Gray and Illuminating, an "optimistic" hue of yellow, are the two shades that Pantone has named as its colours of the year for 2021.

American colour company Pantone believes that the pairing of shades will help people "fortify themselves with energy, clarity and hope" in a world that's set to face increasing uncertainty.

Ultimate Gray and Illuminating are Pantone's colours of the year for 2021
Pantone has chosen two shades for its Color of the Year 2021

The bright yellow shade, called Illuminating, is meant to evoke the "optimistic promise of a sunshine-filled day", while Ultimate Gray is a much quieter hue that speaks more of "composure, steadiness and resilience".

Pantone says the colour can almost be compared to durable natural elements, like time-weathered pebbles on a beach.

Illuminating is one of Pantone's colours of the year for 2021
A bright yellow hue called Illuminating is one of the colours

"The selection of two independent colours highlight how different elements come together to express a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting," explained Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute.

"Practical and rock-solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, this is a colour combination that gives us resilience and hope," she continued.

"We need to feel encouraged and uplifted, this is essential to the human spirit."

The tumultuous year of 2020 has led other companies to choose similarly affirming shades as their 2021 colours of the year.

A few months ago paint brand Dulux announced theirs as Brave Ground, an earthy beige hue that is supposed to reflect "the strength we can draw from nature, our growing desire to align more with the planet and looking towards the future".

Ultimate Gray is one of Pantone's colours of the year for 2021
Ultimate Gray is the other shade in the colour duo

This isn't the first time that Pantone's Color of the Year has come as a duo. Rose Quartz, a pale pink, and Serenity, a powdery blue, were its choices for the year 2016.

Classic Blue was unveiled as the company's colour of the year for 2020. It described the hue as a "universal favourite" that would inspire "calm, confidence and connection", but it did come under some criticism – in an opinion piece for Dezeen, interiors expert Michelle Ogundehin argued Classic Blue wasn't reflective of a "supremely anxious and confusing era".