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pantone 2021 color of the year

Pantone’s 2021 Color of The Year

We begin with not just one, but two options for Pantone’s 2021 Color of The Year and I’m here for it!  Hurrah Ultimate Gray and Illuminating.


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Lawrence Herbert, the founder of Pantone in 1963 created a primary color matching system.  This system identifies, matches, and communicates colors for the purpose of establishing consistency between the print and textile design industries.

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The color system is broken into two distinct categories, Graphics and Textiles.  Within the graphics category you have the PMS – Pantone Matching System.  This system gives you color options that are more appropriate for print, packaging, digital and screen printing and will consist of colors that generally pop when on the shelf.

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The Textiles category, FHI (Pantone Home, Fashion and Interiors) will give you color options that work better with apparel, fabrics and soft goods.  This color system has more black, white and neutral colors which are often used by designers. It also has a coatings and pigments section, because color can change depending on the material it’s produced on.  This category also features colors that are ideal for cosmetics, paints, leather and accessories.  Having two distinct systems under FHI allows for more versatility in choosing the right color for the right material.

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Since 2000, The Pantone Color Institute which falls under the parent company has been forecasting global color trends.  Each year with anticipation, brands and consumers world wide look forward to the Pantone color of the year announcement in early December.  Research of recurring patterns and colors from cultures all over the world is collected by team of 20 for nine months.  The chosen color(s) is but a small snapshot of what inspires us the most in our daily lives.

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Pantone’s 2021 color of the year have both positive and negative aspects, so let’s take a peek at how each of them can influence us.  Illuminating is a color from the yellow family and is most associated with warmth, laughter, hope and sunshine.  Yellow is a warm color, and of all the warm tones is the most energetic.  Some shades of yellow are bold and can give a room, or you a sense of confidence and freshness.  This doesn’t mean you have to go all out with a complete room or wardrobe change.  Too much yellow can be overstimulating making you feel frustrated or angry, so your sweet spot may be to add this color in moderation.

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The second color, Ultimate Gray is cool, neutral and balanced.  It’s often thought of as a conservative, formal, and sophisticated color.  Although Gray is considered a timeless and classic color, on the flip side it’s also known for being moody, depressive, dull and dirty.   However, the beauty of pairing these two colors together is they cancel out the negative aspects of the other thus ending in a union of perfect harmony.

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Oftentimes we need a little nudge to shake things up and I find that trends can do just that.  You don’t have to fully embrace them but infusing a little here and there can add newness and life to an interior space or outfit.  Gray is a much easier color to pair with just about anything, but yellow not so much.  Here are ways to pair the 2021 Pantone color with other complementary colors:


I hope we’ve inspired you to take a walk on the wild side with adding a little yellow into your life.