December is an exciting time in the design community. Not only is it an opportunity to reflect on the year’s trends and predict what’s going to be popular in the next, but it’s when Pantone makes its annual Color of the Year announcement. Their big reveal set the design world aflutter because their team of color experts selected two distinct hues instead of one for 2021 (only the second time in its 20-year history) — Ultimate Gray and Illuminating (bright yellow). Designers often embrace the language of color to communicate a theme, motif, or narrative, and this duo channels the ambivalence and uncertainty of our times, as one tumultuous year comes to an end and a new one of possibility begins.
“A message of happiness supported by fortitude, the combination of PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray + PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating is aspirational and gives us hope. We need to feel that everything is going to get brighter – this is essential to the human spirit.”
The pairing of Ultimate Gray and Illuminating channels a message of resilience and hope, satisfying our need for constancy and strength as we look ahead to a brighter future. Gray is grounding and a lovely neutral base, while bright yellow is vibrant, full of life, and a shining beacon for a better tomorrow. The combination is versatile, striking, and adapts equally well to residential and commercial environments. We could easily see it paired beautifully in a living room or conference room, on products or packaging, in textiles, building products, paint, and clothing. And while none of us knows what 2021 will bring, embarking on the new year with a mindset that reflects strength and optimism is a good way to begin.