For over twenty years, Pantone’s Color of the Year has influenced product development and decision making in multiple design based industries, including fashion, home decor and more. After what can only be described as a unique year in 2020, the colour experts have once again announced the newest tones to keep an eye on – introducing Ultimate Gray and Illuminating for 2021.

Pantone Colour of the Year 2021 - Ultimate Gray and Illuminating Swatches on a grey background.

Pantone, the world-renowned authority on colour, based in the USA – and their team of design research experts from their colour institute hand-pick a colour to watch each year, and this year’s selection is the perfect summary of the overall collective feeling based on the experience of the last twelve months. Pantone’s Colour of the Year for 2021 is a marriage of two distinct colours, coming together to convey a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting.

PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray and PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating, are two independent colours that highlight how different striking elements can come together to support and compliment one another, best expressing the mood for why these colours were selected and announced as the official Pantone Color of the Year 2021. We’ve all come to realise the importance of support through the various lockdown situations of 2020.

Pantone Colour of the Year 2021 - Ultimate Gray and Illuminating. A woman holds her hands up to frame the colours on a yellow background.

While the two colours are bold and worthy of the title themselves, with their own merit in the world of design – they are a great combined colour profile that we’re already starting to see as a theme in design projects and fashions.

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. Practical and rock-solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, this is a colour combination that gives us resilience and hope, one which has never been more prominent in thought than it has been this year.

PANTONE 13-0647, Illuminating is a bright and cheerful yellow, sparkling with vivacity – a warming shade imbued with solar power and brightness.

PANTONE 17-5104, Ultimate Gray is emblematic of solid and dependable elements which are everlasting and provide a firm foundation.

We need to feel encouraged and uplifted, this is essential to the human spirit. We need to feel that everything is going to get brighter, that’s what these colours bring.

Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute
Pantone Colour of the Year 2021 - Ultimate Gray and Illuminating - with a subtle lemon slice background on one side, and grey slate background on the other.

About Pantone Colour Of The Year

Previous Pantone Colour of the Year picks have included Classic Blue, Living Coral, Ultraviolet, Greenery and Rose Quartz & Serenity and the announcement of the chosen hues have grown to mean much more than simply a fashionable trend – now recognised as a strategic asset for designers and artists alike. Based on trend analysis the colour of the year forecasts the seasonal themes, psychology and prediction of what is needed for the year ahead, as well as a reflection of what already exists in the world of design.

For over 20 years, Pantone’s Color of the Year has influenced product development and purchasing decisions in multiple industries, including fashion, home furnishings, and industrial design, as well as product packaging and graphic design. The Pantone Color Institute unite the science and emotion of colour. Recognised globally as a leading source of colour expertise, Pantone provide colour insights and solutions; collaborating with clients to strategically address colour challenges and develop a colour and design approach consistent with brand vision.

Ultimate Gray and Illuminating – Interior Design

We’ve already noticed that lots of homeware brands have embraced the optimism that comes with the uplifting yellow tones – against a more traditional and classic monochrome palette.

We’ve seen the pops of yellow come in the form of rich fabrics and soft furnishings, and riding a wave of ochre that was found up and down the country in everyday homes last year – this seems like a trend that is set to stick around for a while. We’d recommend avoiding trying to make the new colour of the year choices work for kitchens and bathrooms, but the bedroom and living room are the perfect places to tie together the contrasting tones of ultimate gray and illuminating yellow.

Whether it’s wall art, or new geometric patterned curtains and rugs – there’s plenty of opportunity to make these two colours work in unison around the home, and we’re excited to see how designers adapt this scheme into larger interior design projects. Picking a few accent pieces for your rooms will showcase your eye for fashion and home interior style, without having to compromise on altering the whole room more permanently.

Pantone Colour of the Year 2021 - Ultimate Gray and Illuminating in home interior design. Living room with yellow and gray geometric wall art.

Styling Colour of the Year 2021 in Menswear

We think that it’ll be a similar situation when it comes to men’s fashion. While the understated tones of ultimate gray aren’t likely to make any waves in menswear – we imagine there’ll be many of the big name designers and high street brands that will be trying to weave in the uplifting, bright and vibrant tones of the other colour of the year for 2021.

In the world of tailoring, pastel yellows have been around for a while, and we don’t think there’ll be a huge change to that element of the fashion world for men based on this colour trend. However, luxury menswear and more casual labels are likely to make use of the colour combination through their outerwear, knitwear and accents. Similarly to the world of interior design, last year saw a number of high street menswear brands opting for rich autunal browns and yellows in their clothing ranges, so this is something we’re interested to see more of. It’s certainly a time for us to be looking forward to getting dressed up again – and now we’ve got some new colours to try out in the spring!

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