Close this search box.

The Why Of The Pantone Color of The Year 2021

The Why Of The Pantone Color of The Year 2021

The much expected Pantone Color Of The Year 2021 has been published, and here is why the color institute has chosen a combination of two colors for the next 12 months. To start with, Pantone always takes into consideration the relationship between culture and color when the global color team looks at influences that come from entertainment, travel, fashion, design, technology, and also looks into socio-economic drivers.


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.”
Leatrice Eisemann, Executive Director Pantone Color Institute




The choice of the color is a well-studied process and symbolic of the age we are living in. The combination of color and color name sends a message the institute considers to be necessary, infusing hope, food for thought, energy, or any other attribute that is important for a specific year.

In 2020 we’ve seen our world upside down and were invited to reframe cultural values.

Quantity shifts into quality.

More becomes less.

Creativity leads to efficiency.

Global turns local.

The year showed us how relevant it became to support each other and build connections that uplift and strengthen. The choice of two colors embodies that principle of connectedness and the sense of ‘we need to get out of this together.’

Pantone did not plan on having two colors (as they did previously in 2016 with Rose Quartz & Serenity) but when bringing different inspirations and sources to the table, they realized that the idea of bonding attributes needed to be reinforced in 2021. These attributes are (left side stands for gray, right side for yellow):

Strength + Hopefulness

Enduring + Uplifting

Rock Solid + Optimistic

Resilience + Positivity

Thoughtful + Forward Thinking

Fortitude + Gratitude

Experience + Innovation

The Why Of The Pantone Color Of The Year 2021

PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray + PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating, two independent colors highlight how different elements come together to support one another. It is a story that encapsulates deeper feelings of thoughtfulness with the promise of something sunny and friendly.

Ultimate Gray gives foundation and strength. It’s an enduring hue and stands for resilience and fortitude found in nature in stones and pebbles that have been at shores and quarrels forever. This notion of a solid foundation is reassuring in turbulent times and encourages steadiness and resilience (the buzz word of 2020).

Illuminating embodies sunshine, it is warm and optimistic, gives hope and positivity pressing us forward toward new ways of thinking and innovating. The corporate image (pic no.1) shows a person playing with finger puppets, a symbol that was consciously picked to evoke creativity and happiness.




If you are interested in learning about more Color Trends 2021 from different international markets, please see sign-up for our fortnightly Wednesday Journal which comes packed with color and trend resources.


Wednesday Journal

Receive a dose of inspiration, education, and downloadable resources. You will access the last three digital editions by signing up. 



How about some extra inspiration?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Welcome to a roadmap to unlock Color, Material, and Finish themes for 2025 and beyond.

Follow our Wednesday Journal

Receive your dose of inspiration, education, and downloadable resources. By signing up, you will access the last three editions. We publish two times a month.


Most Read Posts