Pantone Color of the Year 2021: Ultimate Gray & Illuminating

Pantone revealed it’s official Pantone Color of the Year 2021 and it came as a surprise. Because for the new year, the Color Institute has selected not just one, but two shades, which together form a dynamic color duo.

“Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, the union of PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray + PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating is one of strength and positivity.”


The bright yellow tone stands for hope and joy of life. Illuminating “… is a bright and cheerful yellow sparkling with vivacity, a warming yellow shade imbued with solar power.”

Ultimate Gray

A medium gray tone, which stands for composure and steadiness. Ultimate Gray is “… emblematic of solid and dependable elements which are everlasting and provide a firm foundation.”

Br24 Blog Pantone Color of the Year 2021: Photo showing the two Pantone Colors of the Year 2021: Illuminating and Ultimate Gray
Image: © Pantone

According to Pantone Color Intistute’s executive director Leatrice Eiseman, “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. Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, this is a colour combination that gives us resilience and hope. We need to feel encouraged and uplifted; this is essential to the human spirit,”
Leatrice Eiseman added.

For the second time in the history of the Pantone Color of the Year, the Color Institute selected two colors instead of one. Back in 2016, Rose Quartz, a pale pink, and Serenity, a powdery blue, formed the first color duo. However, it is the first time that an achromatic, not colorful shade has been chosen as the Color of the Year with gray. The current color combination of Ultimate Gray and Illuminating follows the timeless Classic Blue, the Color of the Year 2020.

From fashion, graphic and interior design to film, photography and much more. We will certainly see more of the new Pantone Color(s) of the Year 2021 in various areas in the coming months.

Don’t forget to check out our Blog about the Shutterstock Color Trends 2021 and find out more about the three top colours of the year and a preview of the global colour trends for 20 different countries.


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