From raging bushfires to worldwide BLM protests and the unprecedented pandemic, 2020 was one helluva year. The super-rich grew even more disgustingly wealthy while the rest of us binge-watched Gilmore Girls and tended to our succulents.
Frankly, it’s a year most of us would rather delete from memory, but it’s also critical context for Pantone’s (in)famous Colour of the Year reveal for 2021...
With a COVID19 vaccine just around the corner plus the demotion of a certain orange despot, there are plenty of things to look forward to this year. Then again, there’s also that little thing called the climate crisis which hasn’t magically gone away, not to mention the global recession or unequal access to the vaccine.
So we face 2021 with a highly unusual sense of unity, but also, trepidation.
OPTIMISM WITH A HEALTHY DASH OF PRAGMATISM.
The initial instinct over at Pantone was to choose a bright, happy colour representative of a ray of hope following the dark despondency of 2020. But to do this would be neglectful of what we’ve piled up emotionally in terms of political, social and environmental catastrophe. It seemed we needed to find a way to impart hope for a brighter future, whilst still keeping one foot soberly planted in the real world.
“Each colour possesses positive qualities on its own. Ultimate Gray evokes feelings of dependability, resilience and wisdom. Illuminating is symbolic of light, energy and heightened awareness and intuition. The grey qualities, however, need the yellow qualities and vice versa.” - Laurie Pressman, Vice President of the Pantone Color Institute
ULTIMATE GREY (17-5104)
Ultimate Grey is an acknowledgement of steadfast natural elements, dependable and resilient. Not the colour of a darkened cliff or tempestuous sky, but instead closer to smoothed over pebbles, Ultimate Grey invokes a resolute and calm finality.
It is the grey of wisdom and is especially versatile within your wardrobe, acting as a backdrop to virtually any other colour combination, season and skin tone.
ILLUMINATING YELLOW (13-0647)
Illuminating Yellow, on the other hand, is a joyous, youthful and bright solar yellow. It feels like the timely arrival of heat and energy that we need and is not a washed-out pale pastel, nor the egg-yolk of 2009’s COTY.
Its warmth makes it easily wearable for most skin tones and it works best combined with faded blue denim, white or… (ultimate) grey.
TWO COLOURS, ONE HOPE.
“The union of an enduring grey with the vibrant yellow expresses a message of positivity supported by fortitude. Practical and rock-solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, this is a colour combination that gives us resilience and hope” - Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute
This isn’t the first time Pantone has chosen two colours, but it is certainly the most significant, representing an ideology that combines two very different yet complimentary perspectives.
Will you choose bright, sunny optimism and an era of hope for 2021?
Or will you choose the realist approach, grounded and ready to toll up your sleeves in the face of upcoming challenges?
Even better, choose both – because it’s the lack of absolutes, the combination of these two colours working together that spreads a message of hope, purpose and wisdom as move into 2021.
And that is the real lesson we can all take from Pantone this year.