Pantone Colors of the Year 2021 – Illuminating and Ultimate Gray

For 2021 Pantone has announced two Colors of the Year, Illuminating and Ultimate Gray. Officially Pantone 13-0647 and 17-5104, Illuminating is a bright and cheerful yellow sparkling with vivacity, a warming yellow shade imbued with solar power. Ultimate Gray is emblematic of solid and dependable elements which are everlasting and provide a firm foundation. The colors of pebbles on the beach and natural elements whose weathered appearance highlights an ability to stand the test of time, Ultimate Gray quietly assures, encouraging feelings of composure, steadiness and resilience.

Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, explains “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.

As with last year’s Classic Blue, Pantone has worked with other partners to transform Illuminating and Ultimate Gray into more than just colours. Brazilian footwear manufacturer Cariuma offers a range of sneakers in Pantone colours including this year’s Colors of the Year. At the other end of the body, Love Your Melon, has a selection of woolly hats in Illuminating and Ultimate Gray. For fashion accessories, Lokai have bead bracelets incorporating the two colours – yellow on one side, gray on the other.

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.” added Laurie Pressman, Vice President of the Pantone Color Institute. “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.

The full press release is here and discusses Illuminating and Ultimate Gray in the context of everything from tech innovation to interior design and fashion.

If you are a designer, all the colour standards are on Pantone’s site, including some downloads for Adobe products. The codes for Illuminating are sRGB: 245, 223, 77 and Hex: #F5DF4D.

For Ultimate Gray, the codes are sRGB: 147, 149, 151 and Hex: #939597

Personally, I see the colours reflecting the transition from despair to hope in 2021 as the world fights back against Covid-19. We need to see more Illuminating that Ultimate Gray.