Pantone reveals two colours of the year for 2021 to represent “union”

The brand’s annual colour prediction is, as usual, packed with societal metaphors, this year choosing two tones for the first time as a “union of strength and positivity”.

10 December 2020


Pantone has revealed its Colour of the Year 2021, only next year it’s actually two colours: Pantone 17-5104 Ultimate Gray and Pantone 13-0647 Illuminating (a vivid, sunny yellow). Recently the brand’s trend prediction for the year ahead has poised itself as something of a metaphor for society’s general vibe, and so this time chose two colours to represent a “union” – two independent colours that “highlight how different elements come together to express a message of strength and hopefulness, conveying the idea that it’s not about one colour or one person, it’s about more than one,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, this is a colour combination that gives us resilience and hope.”

The pairing could also be interpreted as grey symbolising the year we’ve just had (and likely the first stretch of 2021) and yellow being the light at the end of that dismal tunnel. Pantone says in its statement that in fact it stands for fortitude and positivity, thoughtfulness and “the promise of something sunny and friendly”. The grey is inspired by pebbles on a beach or natural elements with a weathered appearance which apparently “highlights an ability to stand the test of time” and evokes feelings of composure, steadiness and resilience. The yellow, in contrast, is spirited, emboldened and warming, “imbued with solar power”.

2020's Pantone Colour of the Year was Classic Blue, in response to a year of political divide, symbolising “protection, stability, peace, and confidence, as well as encouraging deep thinking, open mindfulness, and communication”.

Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, says the annual colour of the year choice “reflects what is taking place in our global culture,” and that as society “continues to recognise colour as a critical form of communication, and a way to symbolise thoughts and ideas, many designers and brands are embracing the language of colour to engage and connect”.

GalleryPantone Colour of the Year 2021 (Copyright © Pantone, 2020)

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Pantone Colour of the Year 2021 (Copyright © Pantone, 2020)

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Jenny Brewer

Jenny oversees our editorial output across work, news and features. She was previously It’s Nice That's news editor. Get in touch with any big creative stories, tips, pitches, news and opinions, or questions about all things editorial.

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