Pantone Reveals Color(s) of the Year

Ultimate Gray and Illuminating Promise Strength and Optimism

Pantone has declared PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray and PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating its Pantone® Color of the Year selection for 2021. The two independent colors come together “to create an aspirational color pairing, conjoining deeper feelings of thoughtfulness with the optimistic promise of a sunshine filled day. As people look for ways to fortify themselves against the continuing uncertainty, spirited and emboldening shades satisfy our quest for vitality.”  Illuminating is best described as a bright and cheerful yellow imbued with solar power while Ultimate Gray is emblematic of solidity and dependability. The colors of pebbles on the beach and natural elements whose weathered appearance highlights an ability to stand the test of time, Ultimate Gray is said to quietly assure, encouraging feelings of composure, steadiness and resilience.



Explains Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute: “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. 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.” Adds Laurie Pressman, Vice President of the Pantone Color Institute: “The Pantone Color of the Year reflects what is taking place in our global culture, expressing what people are looking for that color can hope to answer. As society continues to recognize color as a critical form of communication, and a way to symbolize thoughts and ideas, many designers and brands are embracing the language of color to engage and connect.”


In terms of usage, Pantone observes that Ultimate Gray and Illuminating do not have to be used in equal proportions; either color can take precedence whether for apparel, beauty, home furnishings, product design or packaging. With specific regard to package and graphic design: “Pairing Illuminating, the color of highest visibility and reflectivity with resilient Ultimate Gray produces a visually noticeable message no matter where it appears.  The coupling of friendly Illuminating with quietly assuring Ultimate Gray infuses a message of vitality into a firm foundation of reliability, wisdom and experience for packaging and multi-media design.”