We knew Pantone was gearing up for its big 'Colour of the Year' reveal this week, as the creative community has been joking about what it might be: a disposable face mask's cool blue, perhaps, or a deep shade of brown, for obvious reasons.
What we didn't expect was that the global authority on colour would unleash not one, but two shades for 2021 – Ultimate Gray (17-5104) & Illuminating (13-0647). Apparently, the complementary colours demonstrate how we're all looking forward to happier times and a brighter future, after what has probably been the worst 12 months in history for many of us.
The two independent colours "come together to create an aspirational colour pairing, conjoining deeper feelings of thoughtfulness with the optimistic promise of a sunshine-filled day," as Pantone puts it. In a statement on its website, the brand says: "As people look for ways to fortify themselves with energy, clarity and hope to overcome the continuing uncertainty, spirited and emboldening shades satisfy our quest for vitality. Illuminating is a bright and cheerful yellow sparkling with vivacity, a warming yellow shade imbued with solar power."
"Ultimate Gray is emblematic of solid and dependable elements which are everlasting and provide a firm foundation," adds Pantone. "The colours 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."
Deemed as a reflection of what's going on in the world, Pantone's Colour of the Year expresses "what people are looking for that colour can hope to answer," according to Pantone's Vice President Laurie Pressman. "As society continues to recognise colour as a critical form of communication, and a way to symbolise thoughts and ideas, many designers and brands are embracing the language of colour to engage and connect."
“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, conveying the idea that it's not about one colour or one person, it's about more than one," Laurie adds. "The union of an enduring Ultimate Gray with the vibrant yellow Illuminating expresses a message of positivity supported by fortitude.
"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 encouraged and uplifted, this is essential to the human spirit."