Pantone Colors of the Year 2021: Ultimate Gray + Illuminating
After a year full of unexpected challenges, we all look forward to 2021 and the possibility that everything will get brighter. Yet, we also hope for stability and strength. This wish lies at the root of the Pantone Color Institute's Colors of the Year for 2021. PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray + PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating (yellow) were chosen to convey a message of dependability and the promise of sunny days ahead - two independent colors that come together to create an aspirational color pairing.
As we look to the future, spirited and emboldening shades lift our spirits. Illuminating is a bright and cheerful yellow, warm and vivacious. Ultimate Gray is emblematic of solid and dependable elements which are everlasting and provide a firm foundation. It evokes the colors of pebbles on the beach and natural elements whose weathered appearance reflects an ability to stand the test of time. Ultimate Gray quietly assures, encouraging feelings of composure, steadiness and resilience.
“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.”
Stylists are familiar with these colors in the salon - with gray shades and blonde tones trending right now. Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray + PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating are part of a palette that is embraced by the beauty industry and will have many creative applications over the coming year.
But who is Pantone?
Pantone was originally a printing company in New Jersey that specialized in color charts for the cosmetic, fashion and medical industries. Keeping color consistent was not an easy task. Just think about it in the salon - one client’s request for “brown hair” could be interpreted many ways. Do they want gold undertones? Or a cooler shade? Chestnut? Auburn? Espresso?
This confusion is what led Lawrence Herbert, one of Pantone’s employees, to buy the business in 1962 and create a universal language of color with specific formulas (just like when you mix hair color) to standardize exact color matches. If someone wanted a color, they’d ask for a Pantone number, and it would be the same exact color across the globe. His first Pantone Matching System had 10 colors in 1963. With thousands of colors today, Pantone is the industry standard world-wide for color with over 10 million users.
This simplifies the process for graphic designers who are working with manufacturers and retailers. It helps in branding, logos, nail polishes, car colors, and any product that has a color involved. Pantone keeps colors consistent.
How is the Color of the Year Chosen?
Since 2000, the Pantone Color Institute, a consulting service within Pantone that forecasts global color trends and advises companies on color in brand identity and product development, has selected a Color of the Year. To choose the Color of the Year, Pantone’s color experts examine world-wide trends. This can include the entertainment industry, popular art collections and new artists, fashion, all areas of design and popular travel destinations. Factors such as the economy, street life, social media politics, and beauty trends in different areas are huge influences, as well.
“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, Vice President 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.”
Ultimate Gray + Illuminating in the beauty industry
In a press release announcing the Color of the Year, Pantone also breaks down each industry and how the Color of the
Year relates to it. Here are two industries that relate to beauty professionals and stylists:
ULTIMATE GRAY + ILLUMINATING IN FASHION & ACCESSORIES
From towels to wax to nail lacquer for clients, here are some featured items in the Ultimate Gray and Illuminating color palettes to use in your salons or spas.