Carol Goyal
Dec 18, 2020

Blog: ‘Illuminating' and 'Ultimate Gray' - contrasting colour choices for 2021

The biggest colour trends of 2021 are taking a cue from the tumultuous year just gone by, and giving people a sense of ‘hope, optimism and the refresh that many are looking for’ in the new year, says the author

Blog: ‘Illuminating' and 'Ultimate Gray' -  contrasting colour choices for 2021
Last year when I penned a blog in Campaign about the Colour of the Year 2020, little did I realise that ‘Classic Blue’, the chosen shade for 2020 that was meant to offer ‘reassurance, confidence and connection that people may be searching for in an uncertain global milieu’ would perhaps have been ‘Murky Blue’ or ‘Turgid Blue’ for what the year eventually turned out to be! May be Red – any shade of red or redder – would have actually described the year even better… the blood and gore from lost lives, to the red in every sub-part of the economy.
As we head into 2021, colour experts continue to be brave, and have predictions for us on the best choices on the colour palette for the next 12 months. The biggest colour trends of 2021 are taking a cue from the tumultuous year just gone by, and giving people a sense of ‘hope, optimism and the refresh that many are looking for’ in the new year. The Pantone Color Institute and Shutterstock have released their 2021 colour trend predictions in recent weeks, choosing bright and soothing colors that take ‘inspiration from natural elements’. Pantone revealed on Wednesday that Illuminating – a bright yellow hue – and Ultimate Gray are its 2021 Colours of the Year, with both synchronously representing ‘unity, stability and hope’.
“It’s aspirational,” emphasises Pantone’s executive director, Leatrice Eiseman. “We’re not there yet, but we’re aiming for that. We’re trying to get there. When the gray clouds disperse, we see the sunshine.” The contrasting combination of grey mirroring all of the pain of the pandemic and yellow as a symbol of hope and happiness defines the choices for a year ahead when grey hopefully will make way for the yellow in what is literally a light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel prediction. 
Shutterstock, meanwhile, has chosen a palette which is more diverse, and perhaps not quite as philosophical.
Shutterstock’s Colour of 2021: Set Sail Champagne
The off-white color is steeped in hope and optimism, actually a bit of both. Shutterstock expects the earthy color to be popular because it is a bright and soothing shade.
Shutterstock’s Colourr of 2021: Fortuna Gold
The rich yellow gold color represents “the chance happenings and happy coincidences found in life’s moments.”
Shutterstock’s Colour of 2021: Tidewater Green
The deep teal hue is inspired by the calm of the ocean.
Shutterstock’s 2021 colour report also estimates the biggest colour trends per country. The report reveals the biggest color of 2021 will be “Dark Violet” for the U.S., “Light Coral” in the U.K., “Medium Slate Blue” in Canada, “Indigo” in France and “Lime Green” in Spain. “Light Coral” is also the colour predicted for India… a mild pink which punctuates hope but retains the remnants of red, signifying blood and perhaps fear too. Shutterstock created its 2021 color trends report by analysing pixel data from the year’s top downloads.
Back to Pantone. Is there more meaning in Illuminating and Ultimate Gray? 
Pantone Colour of 2021: Illuminating
The bright yellow hue is meant to evoke hope and optimism after the tumultuous year. The color goes along with Pantone’s second color of 2021, Ultimate Gray, and is said to represent sunshine coming in as clouds disperse.
Pantone Colour of 2021: Ultimate Gray
Pantone’s second color of the year is said to represent dependability, as community and camaraderie have become crucial during the pandemic. Paired with Illuminating, the hues convey the message of unity, stability and hope.
Besides its show-stoppers, Pantone also predicts a subsidiary palette which fashion designers, interior experts and those in advertising are likely to patronise.
Pantone’s Spring 2021 Colour: Marigold
Pantone states Marigold is typically found in the fall, but its rich colour evokes a cozy and friendly vibe that will also be sought out in the spring.
Pantone’s Spring 2021 Colour: Cerulean
The powdery blue hue is another colour that Pantone expects to be big this spring because of its calming nature.
Pantone’s Spring 2021 Colour: Rust
The burnt red-orange colour is said to have a seasonless appeal. It’s also a favorite of Victoria Beckham and Meghan Markle.
Pantone’s Spring 2021 Colour: French Blue
The deep blue shade is linked to the late New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham, and more recently has become a favorite of Kate Middleton. Pantone expects the hue to be popular with people who favor the colour and are looking for a new shade.
Pantone’s Spring 2021 Colour: Green Ash
The pastel green colour goes along with the increasing trend of gardening, hiking and other outdoor activities that have become more popular during the pandemic. Pantone explains the color is restorative and regenerative and relates to nature.
Pantone’s Spring 2021 Colour: Burnt Coral
The pink-orange hue is said to evoke a sense of familiarity and comfort, especially considering Coral was a recent Pantone Colour of the Year. The colour also relates to the preservation the coral reef, which has been a concern along Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
Pantone’s Spring 2021 Colour: Mint
Mint is a refreshing and cleansing colour, according to Pantone.
Pantone’s Spring 2021 Colour: Amethyst Orchid
The bright purple colour is one of Pantone’s more unique predictions for spring.
Pantone’s Spring 2021 Colour: Raspberry Sorbet
The fuchsia color has both warm and cool properties.
Pantone’s Spring 2021 Colour: Inkwell
The deep navy colour is said to be solid and very intense and can be used as a great background color.
Pantone’s Spring 2021 Colour: Buttercream
The off-white colour takes inspiration from the pandemic’s craze of baking at home.
Pantone’s Spring 2021 Colour: Desert Mist
The peachy colour is a blend of cool and warm hues.
Pantone’s Spring 2021 Colour: Willow
The yellow-green shade takes inspiration from nature and greenery.
In the colours business, 2021 will be a palette of positivity. A trigger of hope. Saturated hues that defined 2020 are likely to move toward 2021 with a rich, natural palette that speaks to new opportunities, and more simply, a desire to get outside and get away. Let us see!
Carol Goyal is a lawyer who works in the space of art. She is a Masters from the Sotheby’s Institute of Art, New York. 
Campaign India

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