Pantone's color of the year 2021

Robert Gourley Unsplash

Earlier week, Pantone announced that it's color of the year for 2021 is not one, but two colors: Ultimate Gray and Illuminating.  Illuminating (PANTONE 13-0647) is a bright sunny yellow and Ultimate Gray (PANTONE 17-5104 ) is pure neutral gray with just a hint of warmth.


The idea behind the color paring is to reflect on the depressing dumpster fire that is 2020 and hope for a more promising post-pandemic future.

"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," said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute.


"Practical and rock-solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, this is a color combination that gives us resilience and hope," Eiseman continues. "We need to feel encouraged and uplifted; this is essential to the human spirit."

"It's aspirational, We're not there yet, but we're aiming for that. We're trying to get there. When the gray clouds disperse, we see the sunshine."


Reactions to the colors online have been mixed. Some Twitter users have likened them to safety signs and highway construction gear. Others have noticed the colors are reminiscent of Maurizio Cattelan's modern art sculpture of a banana stuck on the wall with duct tape.

Pantone's Color of the Year influences product design choice in fashion, home, and graphic design. We'll have to wait and see if 2021 is the year the "Gen-Z Yellow" breaks into the mainstream.