Colors can conjure up our emotions, stirring feelings of happiness, sadness, warmth or coolness with surprisingly powerful effect.
Which is why, after what what has been a fairly horrendous 2020, people will unsurprisingly be looking to shades that evoke feelings of strength, hope, and optimism.
The Pantone Color Institute has selected not one but two colors for its “Color of the Year 2021″—Ultimate Gray and Illuminating yellow—a pairing of colors that, Pantone said, come together to conjure “deeper feelings of thoughtfulness with the optimistic promise of a sunshine filled day.”
Pantone researchers select colors that tap into global cultural trends, selecting colors that communicate and symbolize something about the present, and about how we perceive the future.
Resilience, hope and fortitude
Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, said the selection of two colors also reflected a sense of union—reflecting, albeit idealistically, how people came together in 2020 amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The yellow has been selected for its “sparkling” vivacity and “solar power,” while the gray has been chosen for its connotations with “solid and dependable elements” like pebbles on a beach that stand the test of time.
“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,” she said.
She described the pairing as expressing “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.”
Yellow, gray and consumers goods
For brands looking to take a cue from the Colors of the Year for 2021, Pantone says they don’t need to be used in equal proportions, as either color can take precedence across apparel, beauty, home furnishings, product design or packaging for a message of “message of sunshine and strength.”
“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,” said Laurie Pressman, vp 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.”
Pantone has been selecting a “Color of the Year” since 2000.
Last year, it selected “timeless and enduring” Classic Blue as the color of choice. Describing the tone as like a tonic to the busy distractions of modern life, and to the environment of sociopolitical uncertainty that many find themselves living in.
And in 2018 the company named Living Coral as its color of the year for 2019: a pink-tinted, bright hue, which it described as “an animated, life-affirming shade of orange, with golden undertones.”