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Pantone Colors of the Year 2021: Ultimate Gray and Illuminating

The Pantone Colors of the Year 2021 have been chosen: Ultimate Gray and Illuminating. Solid stability combined with warming optimism – this positive message is conveyed by the two trend colors of 2021. For only the second time in its history, the U.S. color institute Pantone has declared two shades to be the colors of the year.

Pantone Colors of the Year 2021: Ultimate Gray and Illuminating

One of the two colors is  the reliable “Ultimate Gray”. This is a soothing hue rem iniscent of sturdy concrete foundations and tranquil pebble beaches. The the other color is radiant “Illuminating”. This is a bright yellow like warming rays of sunshine and a good mood. For once, the choice of two colors is a reaction to the global corona crisis. The deliberate combination of the two distinct colors is intended to express inner strength and resilience in these times of prolonged uncertainty, while also expressing confidence in a brighter future, Pantone said.


“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 color combination that gives us resilience and hope. We need to feel encouraged and uplifted, this is essential to the human spirit.”


Leatrice Eiseman

Executive Director, Pantone Color Institute


Pantone Colors of the Year 2021 form a strong bond

Pantone 17-5104 Ultimate Grey, the official name of the first color, symbolizes the solid reliability of an everlasting, secure foundation. Just as pebbles on the beach stand the test of time, the subtle, calming Ultimate Grey evokes a sense of serenity and permanence. The second color, Pantone 13-0647 Illuminating, was chosen because it is a bright, luminous yellow that conveys an energetic, sparkling joy of life and is reminiscent of the bright, warming rays of the sun. According to the Pantone Color Institute, after this year of crisis, a conscious decision was made to use this inspiring ensemble of two independent colors, because this combination conveys strength and clarity on the one hand, but also courage and joie de vivre, as well as confidence for better times to come.

Pandemic Influences Color Selection

The U.S.-based institute regularly forecasts global color trends and advises brands around the world on how to incorporate the psychology of color into their design strategy. Pantone’s color experts consider color trends in entertainment and film, art collections and work by new artists, fashion, social media platforms, popular travel destinations, and all areas of design, among others, in their analysis. Incidentally, this selection process was also influenced this year by the global Corona crisis. While Pantone’s color experts usually travel the world themselves throughout the year to track down the latest color trends, this year, due to the pandemic and the resulting travel restrictions, they increasingly worked specifically with carefully selected partners, each of whom gathered information on the latest trends for Pantone directly on site.


Our inspirations for the Pantone Colors of the Year 2021


Pantone Colors of the Year 2021


Cover: © living4media / Scoffoni, Anne-Catherine / 12273551

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