Arts & Culture


PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray + PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating, please make this year a good one.

/ 17 December 2020

Following yearly traditions, Pantone has announced the 2021 Color of the Year with two independent colors coming together for a period of strength and hopefulness—something we are all in dire need of after 2020’s events. And although some may argue that these are mere colors dictated by trends, whims, and a corporate decision, with all the darkness and bleakness of the past few months, we’re holding on to these colors and wishing that it would bring us some much needed resolution.

At the very least, we hope it manifests into a good run. And after what has happened this year, the bar is pretty low already for what could be called a “good year.”

PANTONE 17-5104 is the Ultimate Gray, representing strength, fortitude, and some much needed stability. As so much of 2020 was spent grappling with our new reality, and dealing with the repercussions of the world just take-take-taking from all of us, all of our hopes for a “better tomorrow” is thrown towards the concept of a new year, and a new beginning. Following the collapse of so many institutions, and the destruction of everything we thought stood for normalcy, we are all hoping to rebuild.

That is, to rebuild a culture of confidence and safety when going outdoors, refortify economic structures and markets, and revitalize livelihoods and quality of living for all. At the very core of it, we just want the security and the dependability of our old comforts back. For some, they cleave on the possibility of finally experiencing it for the first time.

This hopeful promise is symbolized by PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating, a bright yellow contrasting the almost-darkness of Gray. Its vibrancy indicate warmth, positivity, and a brilliant sense of optimism—themes that may have very well been lost amid the tragedies of our recent history. We’re not the first, and definitely not the last, to admit that the past few months have filled our heads with nothing but blackness and bitterness for the world. And an illuminating yellow might just be what we need to remind ourselves of good things as we enter this fresh start.

“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,” shared Pantone Color Institute Executive Director, Leatrice Eiseman.

At times, feeling hopeful every new year feels feeble and pointless. As it’s almost absurd how we as a society have conditioned ourselves to see it as so much more than just a natural passing of time, and a normal day that’s been transformed to hold so much weight and significance. After the year we’ve had, is this instinctive expectation of 2021 for “better,” “more,” or just plain old “normal” a sad, premature, attempt of building something up with so much potential, only to be monumentally disappointed at the end? That’s what happened with 2020 for sure, and the promise of “a new decade.”

We’d like to think not.

Alas, regardless of what might happen in the new year, Ultimate Gray and Illuminating are good starting points to guide our manifestations for the future. That, while we try to remain hopeful and optimistic, we stay firmly on the ground and in touch with reality. That while wishing for the best in our near futures, we also bask in the comfort of security of what we have now, so that we won’t have our heads and hearts high up in the clouds, only for it to be shattered with a reality that’s far from illuminating.