It’s a Tie – Pantone Selects Two Colors of the Year for 2021 - Ultimate Gray and Illumination

Posted by Ben Thompson on 12.21.20

Pantone has been selecting a color of the year for over two decades and this is only the second time that they have decided to choose two colors instead of one. The first time was in 2016 with Rose Quartz and Serenity Blue, two pale pastels meant to evoke tranquility and peace. This year, as the renowned color authorities considered their options, they felt the pair of Ultimate Gray and Illumination was the perfect combination to encourage feelings of optimism and resilience.  

Ultimate Gray is described as a stone colored, mid-gray shade, and a classic neutral. This is the very first time a shade of gray has been selected by Pantone.  On the flip side we have Illumination, a bright and joyful yellow, which is meant to complement the strength and steadiness of Ultimate Gray.

How is the Color of the Year Selected?

Each year, the experts at Pantone carefully study a wide variety of influences around the world before arriving at their final selection. They will look at popular travel destinations, art, fashion, movies, and all areas of design, as well as lifestyle and socio-economic conditions. But this year, unlike any other, they were highly influenced by the COVID 19 pandemic, which meant searching for uplifting and comforting shades.

In October, we blogged about Sherwin William announcing Urbane Bronze as their color of the year, described as a natural, calming, and serene shade of earthy brown. So, they too, were looking for a color that would bring a sense of relaxation.

If you are looking for some easy ways to introduce Ultimate Gray and Illuminating into your home, here are a few simple and economical options:

  • Paint or wallpaper a focal wall
  • Paint your front door yellow
  • Add a patterned or solid colored area rug
  • Update your bedding with a new comforter and sheets
  • Accent furnishings with throw pillows
  • Update your window treatments
  • Use candles, a vase, dishes, and/or glassware to highlight the shade






Topics: Trends, Featured, color of the year, color trends