Color trend forecaster Pantone has announced its Color of the Year for 2021, summing up the global vibe that the company is seeing. That color will now trickle down to what we see and influence what we buy, from clothes and cars to the way we decorate our homes.
This year, for the second time in the program’s history, the company brought together two colors, with the top spots going to Ultimate Gray, a familiar, neutral that seems to nod to the grim year that was 2020, and Illuminating, a lemony yellow that channels the hope of a brighter 2021.
Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute said that selecting the color of the year each year brings its own unique set of challenges. “This year we knew it would be a highly emotion-charged year. It really had to speak to what people were telling us they needed,” she said.
For the last 22 years Pantone has been putting out a color of the year, including vibrant colors like Living Coral (2019), Rose Quartz (2016), and Cerulean Blue (2000), so the inclusion of a humble gray may seem out of character for the organization. Laurie Pressman, Pantone Color Institute vice president, explained that there wasn’t any one color that could capture the moment we are in, and that the pairing of two independent colors helped to highlight how different elements can come together to express a message.
“In any given year, there are certain things that may influence the decision more than other years, and with that, COVID certainly had an outsized role in what’s taking place in the world,” said Pressman. “We had an idea where we wanted to go with the color, but as time went on it became abundantly clear. Here we are in our lives; everything is altered. Our mindsets have had to completely reset to what was taking place. I think as a result of the pandemic, we moved to this slow life from a fast life. We moved to less, not more, local, creativity versus efficiency, quality versus quantity. We sat and we evaluated our lives. And we reevaluated what was important to us because all of a sudden our life became very limited.”
The combination of the yellow and gray colors toggles somewhere between a 1930s Art Deco vibe, 1970s disco-era glam, and something totally fresh and new — an acknowledgment of one of the most challenging years of our time, and a hopeful look to the future.
“If we’re looking at Illuminating, you’re looking at uplift and optimism and positivity,” said Pressman. “And yes, we absolutely need that but is that enough? Do we need more? And then you look at the gray color, it’s all about resilience, it’s all about something that’s been able to stand the test of time. It’s all about solid and dependable. You can be strong and determined, but if you don’t have a positive outlook, how will we get to this other side? So it’s really, to us, this combination of strength and hopefulness, endurance and uplift, resilience and positivity, thoughtfulness and forward thinking.”
Here are some ways to embrace 2021′s Colors of the Year.
Color makes a splash in the kitchen
Staub’s graphite gray enameled cast iron Cocotte pairs perfectly with Bertazzoni’s statement-making, 30-inch yellow gas range. $279.99, nordstrom.com, and $4,509, abt.com
Beer glasses go high style
Areaware’s Bent Nail Bottle Opener is made from a nail and a painted block of wood inlaid with magnets to catch the cap after you pry it off. Designer Tom Dixon takes the beer glass to new heights with his mouth-blown Tank beer glasses. $12, nordstrom.com, and $105 for a set of two glasses, mrporter.com
Make a color statement
New York fashion label Monse is known for a cool, deconstructed look. Its layered, asymmetric down coat pairs deep gray with bright yellow. Papier’s chic notebooks can be personalized with a name, a fun title, or your alter ego. They are perfect for scribbling your big ideas for 2021. $1,197, net-a-porter.com, and $26.99, papier.com.
Give your home a chic update
Bring the colors of the year home with Jonathan Adler’s chic Baxter chair paired with Crate & Barrel’s yellow striped Moreau down-filled pillow. $2,195, jonathanadler.com, and $21.47, crateandbarrel.com
Hit the road in style
Salomon’s lightweight mesh and rubber XA-Pro Fusion running sneakers and Balenciaga’s nylon, mesh and rubber sneakers blend the colors of the year for edgy style. $220, and $626, mrporter.com