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Pantone Color of the Year 2021

2021 pantone smile

Announcing the Pantone Color(s) of the Year 2021

PANTONE
17-5104
Ultimate Gray

PANTONE
13-0647
Illuminating

This year Pantone has opted for a dual color combination rather than the traditional single color. 

The last time they did this was in 2016 with Rose Quartz and Serenity, a pink and blue combination you might see at a gender reveal party, but better put as representing gender blur, “coinciding with societal movements toward gender equality and fluidity.” Also seen represented by the transgender pride flag, though Serenity is much more toward the periwinkle spectrum than the deep sky blue color used for the trans flag created by Monica Helms in 1999.

But let’s get back to 2020 and looking ahead to 2021. It makes sense to me to have another dual-color year. With everything that’s going on globally, it seems only one color for the year just isn’t enough. It’s too limiting and after the curveballs that seem to just never stop, having this duo serve as the optimistic color icon to set forth into a new year and take a stronger hold in this decade feels right.

I’ve always been a fan of gray and yellow together. Gray gives you a solid ground, something concrete and stable, while yellow ignites the spark, brightens the neutral, and adds interest by inferring energy (the sun, light, etc.).

It’s also a combination, for various reasons, I associate with education and school. Perhaps from a heathered tee with golden school emblems, or school buses on the pavement by the playground, Graphite no.2 pencils and highlighters (the yellow ones, not the neon ones), chalk-dusted blackboards…

Or bananas and duct tape, wait, that’s from something else. Perhaps the mid-century Americana connotation that comes to mind though a bit dusty. Pantone has illuminated this yellow like a zest of lemon; okay, I had to grab the low-hanging fruit, pun intended. And again, meandering off the path.

A marriage of color conveying a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting.

Ultimate Gray

PANTONE 17-5104

The Numbers

Hex #939597

sRGB 147, 149, 151

L*a*b* 62, 0, -1

Illuminating

PANTONE 13-0647

The Numbers

Hex #F5DF4D

sRGB 245, 223, 77

L*a*b* 89, -3, 70​

“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.”

When I saw this announcement, my first thought immediately went to the image of Black Lives Matter painted on 16th street in Washington, DC, a few blocks from the White House this past June.

I can see this as a representation of differences between two things, in this instance, color. In this example, we have gray and yellow, two very different but essential colors of the spectrum. Immediately we see them distinct different; the line is clearly drawn. But we have to treat them as equals, for they each hold different roles in how color operates, neither better nor worse than the other. Then apply that to thinking ahead with the new year. Together, they represent hope in humanity and the perseverance toward a bright future.

Or am I overthinking this?

FROM PANTONE

“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,” said Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute. “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 people look for ways to fortify themselves with energy, clarity, and hope to overcome the continuing uncertainty, spirited and emboldening shades satisfy our quest for vitality. PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating is a bright and cheerful yellow sparkling with vivacity, a warming yellow shade imbued with solar power. PANTONE 17-5104 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.

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#20. Color of the Year 2019: Living Coral

#20. Color of the Year 2019: Living Coral

PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral – Color of the Year 2019

I have my skeptical spectacles on today.

I smell a marketing scheme, more than a prediction of a social trend, reduced to a representative color. I’m of course referring to Pantone’s twentieth installment of Color of the Year. The industry’s leading color company has spoken and it has said, “Living Coral.” More like, hello, the coral…

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#20. Color of the Year 2019: Living Coral

I have my skeptical spectacles on today.

PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral – Color of the Year 2019

I smell a marketing scheme, more than a prediction of a social trend, reduced to a representative color. I’m of course referring to Pantone’s twentieth installment of Color of the Year. The industry’s leading color company has spoken and it has said, “Living Coral.” More like, hello, the coral reef is dying! But honestly, I won’t even touch that subject further than to mention it is on my mind. It saddens me.

An animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energizes and enlivens with a softer edge.

Pantone has teamed up with Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio of select swanky boutique hotels to bring us Pantone Pantry, an “immersive tribute to color.” This all just happened to debut in Miami for Miami Art Week and Art Basel this past week at the Royal Palm South Beach. For anyone that doesn’t know, I would say this is basically the art world’s equivalent to the Met Gala. Perhaps sprinkled with some Coachella-esqu vibes or as the Tribute Portfolio might put it, “indie-spirited and creative communities.”

During one of my online reading spirals, I came across an article in dezeen, critiquing Pantone’s newest addition to color palette elite. It was quite refreshing to read that someone else was not onboard with this selection. [link cited below]

However, considered calm is on the horizon. I say this with optimistic conviction, because nature abhors a vacuum and action always follows reaction, but we won’t see the results of this particular pendulum swing until early 2020. Instead, right now and into 2019 is a time for the continued calling out of an endemic societal hypocrisy and that requires more subtlety and nuance than one-dimensional colour trend statements. Especially one that’s emblematic, by association, of mankind’s systematic destruction of the natural world.

— Michelle Ogundehin; “Pantone’s colour of the year Living Coral is naive.” dezeen. Dec. 10, 2018.

All in all. For me, it’s a peachier version of 2012’s Tango Tangerine (add white and a dash of yellow). And I don’t think they’ve had quite the big hit since then in their color forecasting. Well, I take that back, 2016’s Rose Quartz & Serenity seemed to me to have struck a nerve.

Maybe they should have more color duo years. I agree with Michelle in her assessment that we are living in a time far too complex to have a mere single tone represent an entire year.

I could really go on writing about how all of this is interconnected; how life and culture inspire art and color which inspires fashion and trends and so on and so blahhhhhh. But. I have far too much shit to get done today.

But I’m optimistic since I have an affinity for red tones… but yah. I’m done.