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Pantone’s 2021 colors of the year perfectly sum up our hopes and fears for the near future


After the rain, the sun will appear — so it makes sense that the colors Pantone has picked to embody the year after 2020 would be gray and yellow.

Pantone revealed its Color of the Year 2021 this week — actually, two colors for the second time in its history — and they are “Ultimate Gray” and “Illuminating” yellow.

The Pantone Color Institute, which has conducted its Color of the Year campaign for more than 20 years, explained in its announcement that the two shades are “a marriage of color conveying a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting.”

Pantone’s colors for 2021: “Ultimate Gray” and “Illuminating” yellow.


Considering 2020 has seen the world in the grip of a pandemic, economic collapse, severe storms and wildfires, as well as a contentious U.S. presidential election — but it’s entering 2021 with a few COVID-19 vaccine candidates on deck and a new American president poised to enter the White House — the contrasting colors make sense.

Related:These were the most Googled questions of 2020. We have many of the answers.

On the one hand, PANTONE 17-5104 “Ultimate Gray” is “solid and dependable” and conveys “resilience,” the color and design arbiter explains in its announcement. The shade provides a firm foundation and is seen in pebbles on the beach and other weathered, natural elements that highlight “an ability to stand the test of time.”

And who isn’t entering 2021 feeling a bit weathered and tested by time?

But PANTONE 13-0647 “Illuminating” is described as a “bright and cheerful yellow sparkling with vivacity.” It’s approaching 2021 feeling aspirational and hopeful that things are going to get better, and that the world will return to some semblance of normalcy. “We need to feel that everything is going to get brighter — this is essential to the human spirit,” the Pantone color experts write.

Pantone’s 2021 colors of the year perfectly sum up our hopes and fears for the near future 2

Pantone’s colors for 2021: “Ultimate Gray” and “Illuminating” yellow.


It’s easy to forget that 2020’s color has been “Classic Blue,” which is very similar to the hue used for the Ford

and Facebook

 logos. It was supposed to provide a “reassuring presence” as we entered a new decade, and to encourage “deep thinking, open mindfulness and communication.”

Read:Pantone’s color of the year is Facebook blue

A much livelier color was selected for 2019: “Living Coral,” an animating shade of orange with a golden undertone, which reflects the warmth, nourishment and shelter of coral reefs to sea life. It also spoke to the urgency of respecting and preserving nature and natural resources.

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