Pantone Picks ‘Uplifting’ Colors

by Blake Herzog

Given how unpredictable last year was, it is comforting to see the Pantone Color Institute take on its self-appointed duty of prognosticating which color will dominate and symbolize the upcoming year. 

It did go ahead and threw us a bit of a curveball, choosing two tones for the second time in its 20-year history — the first six years ago. 

But the two colors, a bright yellow and a neutral-yet-cheerful gray, represent a single mood many are embracing after the trials of 2020, according to the company: “A marriage of color conveying a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting.”

Following the pandemic-fueled uncertainty of last year, Pantone suggested people are looking to decorate their homes, workspaces and graphic designs with a color scheme that suggests daylight and warmth filtering through the darkness. 

“A message of happiness supported by fortitude, the combination of PANTONE Ultimate Gray + PANTONE Illuminating is aspirational and gives us hope. We need to feel that everything is going to get brighter — this is essential to the human spirit,” according to the company’s website. 

Reminiscent of the timeless elegance of silver and gold, the two shades are equally important halves of a perennially vital whole, the stuff of life itself. 

Illuminating (PANTONE 13-0647) is a cheerful yellow hue radiating the warmth, strength and positivity of sunlight that allows everything on Earth to grow and flourish, while Ultimate Gray (PANTONE 17-5104) signifies stable, earthy elements and the wisdom of experience — the other half of what is needed to sustain life. 

“Emboldening the spirit, the pairing of Ultimate Gray + Illuminating highlights our innate need to be seen, to be visible, to be recognized, to have our voices heard,” the company says. “A combination of color 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.”

The Pantone Color Institute is the best-known arm of Pantone LLC, based just outside New York. It is the firm that helps to standardizes colors across the graphic design industry with its CMYK Guides and the textile and clothing industries through the Fashion, Home + Interiors system. 

The Pantone Color of the Year announcements can be highly influential on the consumer products released every year — everything from toys to sheets and clothes to cellphones. 

If this combination and the spirit it represents appeals to you, you can start incorporating the look into your home in ways large and small through pillows and knit throws, curtains, tablecloths, patio furniture or interior or exterior paint (depending on what your HOA or local ordinances will allow).

There likely won’t be any shortage of products to choose from!