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For over 20 years, Pantone’s Colour of the Year has influenced product development and purchasing decisions in multiple industries, including fashion, home furnishings, and industrial design, as well as product packaging and graphic design.

The Pantone Colour of the Year selection process requires thoughtful consideration and trend analysis. To arrive at the selection each year, Pantone’s colour experts at Pantone Colour Institute comb the world looking for new colour influences. This can include the entertainment industry and films in production, traveling art collections and new artists, fashion, all areas of design, popular travel destinations, as well as new lifestyles, and socio-economic conditions. Influences may also stem from new technologies, materials, textures, and effects that impact colour, relevant social media platforms and even upcoming sporting events that capture worldwide attention.

PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Grey + PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating, two independent colours that highlight how different elements come together to support one another, best express the mood for Pantone Colour of the Year 2021. Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, the union of PANTONE Ultimate Grey + PANTONE Illuminating is one of strength and positivity. It is a story of colour that encapsulates deeper feelings of thoughtfulness with the promise of something sunny and friendly.

On New York Times, the directors of Pantone Colour Institute explained their decision regarding 2021 colour scheme.

“No one colour could get across the meaning of the moment,” Laurie Pressman, the vice president of the Pantone Colour Institute, said on a call. “We all realised we cannot do this alone. We all have a deeper understanding of how we need each other and emotional support and hope.”

Hence, said Leatrice Eiseman, the executive director of the Pantone Colour Institute, the decision to select “two independent coloUrs really coming together."

Both Ms. Eiseman and Ms. Pressman said they did not start the process with a two-colour result in mind, but they realised early on that the stakes around the choice of colour for 2021 were very high and might demand a new approach.

The prognosticators began by acknowledging the shades of grey in which we have all been immersed. Indeed, of all the greys in the palette, Ultimate Grey is a determinedly neutral kind of grey. It is not the dark grey of gathering storm clouds or the dour grey of institutional sameness or the dim grey of skulking in the shadows or the soft, luxurious dove grey of Dior, but a more solid, granite-like grey. The kind of grey of wisdom (grey beards!) and intelligence (grey matter!) and construction.

“It’s a dependable grey,” Ms. Eiseman said.

One person’s dependable is another person’s depressing, however, which is where Illuminating comes in. It’s not the egg yolk-like yellow of Mimosa, the colour of the year of 2009, nor an acidic or highlighter yellow, nor the “go into the light” yellow of the afterlife, or sci-fi adventure, but more of a sunshine, or smiley face, yellow"

As people look for ways to fortify themselves with energy, clarity, and hope to overcome the continuing uncertainty, spirited and emboldening shades satisfy our quest for vitality. PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating is a bright and cheerful yellow sparkling with vivacity, a warming yellow shade imbued with solar power. PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Grey is emblematic of solid and dependable elements which are everlasting and provide a firm foundation. The colours of pebbles on the beach and natural elements whose weathered appearance highlights an ability to stand the test of time, Ultimate Grey quietly assures, encouraging feelings of composure, steadiness and resilience.

Emboldening the spirit, the pairing of PANTONE 17-5104 + PANTONE 13-0647 highlights our innate need to be seen, to be visible, to be recognised, to have our voices heard. A combination of colour whose ties to insight, innovation and intuition, and respect for wisdom, experience, and intelligence inspires regeneration, pressing us forward toward new ways of thinking and concepts.

All the world over, yellow is associated with the sun and its life-giving warmth.Yellow also stands for caution, and it’s used for traffic warning signs and traffic signals in nearly every country. Yellow is optimism and the cheerfulness of a sunny day.

Yellow is absolutely invigorating. It stimulates our nerves, glands, and brain, making us more alert and energised. Yellow boosts our memory, and it encourages communication. It’s a colour that promotes activity and interaction.

Morally ambiguous and impartial, grey is the colour of complexity–everything that falls in between absolutes. Grey can be easily overlooked, but it’s quite a fascinating colour if you look a little deeper.

The physical effects of grey are less pronounced than other colours, but it tends to have a dampening effect–both on other colours and on our moods. It’s calm and dispassionate, but too much grey, particularly if it’s a dark grey – can be depressing. Grey is the perfect neutral, as it can moderate brighter hues and pull a colour scheme together.

The grey of cloudy skies, sidewalk cement, comfortable bed linens, gravity blankets, or low-light screens—the colour evokes our collective experiences over the past year. It’s a depressing summation: During nine months of quarantine, we’ve certainly arrived at the “ultimate grey,” a state of mind—mush—as much as the colour of a product. Greyness means ambiguity and irresolution. Neither black nor white, it doesn’t point toward an ending, just the continuation of an indefinite period.

Though the colour of the year is meant as a trend forecast, an evidence-based finding on which hues are newly popular, the 2021 picks seem clearly metaphorical, more of a marketing message than a trend. “Illuminated,” the bright, highlighter-yellow colour, is the light at the end of the tunnel, the sun rising over a dark landscape.

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