For 2021, we’re getting two colors of the year. The colors selected to grace museum gift shops, and end-of-year blog posts are Ultimate Gray (a mid-range gray somewhere around #939597) and Illuminating (a citrus yellow that’s approximately #F5DF4D).
A marriage of color conveying a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting.
The last time Pantone selected two colors was Rose Quartz & Serenity in 2016, and we all know what a tranquil, serene year that was; so 2021 will presumably unleash the curse of an ancient mummy on the world, or see us collide with the Sun.
2020’s color, “Classic Blue”, probably wasn’t much of a color of the year unless it happens to be the color you painted your home office. If the company had genuine foresight, it might have opted for the blandest beige it could find — in fact in the Summer paint brand Dulux almost opted for that for 2021, naming “Brave Ground” its color for next year, but for beige’s “resilient” qualities rather than any lockdown boredom.
Perhaps that’s why Pantone’s PR department opted for two colors in 2021: a nondescript grey to keep us going until we’re all vaccinated, and a wildly luminous yellow for the latter part of the year.
In fairness to Pantone, its color choices aren’t predictions as is often reported, rather aspirations. Pantone believes the pairing “expresses a message of positivity supported by fortitude” which may be just what the world needs right now.
A combination of colors is much more sensible than a single color, with so much about color dependent on context. But the actual color treatment of 2021 is much more likely to be multi-color gradients.