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Pantone Color of the Year 2021: Guide to Ultimate Grey & Illuminating Yellow

Pantone, the color-matching leader that sets industry standards for color swatches (and more), announced their 2021 Color of the Year – Ultimate Grey and Illuminating Yellow. Learn more about the Color of the Year, why two colors were chosen instead of the usual one, and our top essentials for living out 2021, Pantone-style.

What Is the Meaning Behind Ultimate Grey & Illuminating?

Ultimate Grey and Illuminating Yellow: this year, Pantone chose two colors. The grey and yellow combination is, according to the Pantone website, “practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic.” It’s a mood that seems fitting after a tumultuous year – and a positive reinforcement for 2021.

Of course, Pantone’s announcement isn’t just meant to be read about. As 2020 closes and the hope for a better 2021 draws near, Ultimate Grey and Illuminating ache to be incorporated into everyday life. Through our top picks for home decorating essentials below, we show you how to do just that.

Pantone 2021 Decorating Essential: Ultimate Grey Sofa

To start, use Ultimate Grey as a base. In the living room, such a neutral sofa is grounding. It’s also a daily echoing of Pantone’s sentiments: 2021 looks to hold fortitude and strength.

Pantone 2021 Decorating Essential: Illuminating Pillows

Top off your sofa – and the new year – with optimism, or, in Pantone-speak, Illuminating, a shade of enthusiastic yellow. The best way to do this? Bold, decorative throw pillows.

Pantone 2021 Decorating Essential: Ultimate Grey Rug

Under the grey sofa (now topped with Illuminating-style pillows), an Ultimate Grey rug is the next piece to the puzzle that will be your new year’s style. Use this to underscore the matching sofa.

Pantone 2021 Decorating Essential: Illuminating Throw Blankets

No sofa aesthetic is complete without the decadence of a throw blanket. Here, it’s the perfect channel for more of Illuminating, if you can’t get enough. Choose a blanket in a shade close to Pantone’s 2021 pick (it doesn’t have to match exactly – all yellow shades bring optimism in the home!) and use it to respond to a grey sofa’s seriousness.

Pantone 2021 Decorating Essential: Ultimate Grey Wall Decor

Just as 2020 forced us to face our limits, look to your room’s limits. Decorate the walls in calm, Pantone-inspired grey: a fresh, neutral sounding board for 2021.

What Is Pantone?

Every year, a company called Pantone announces a new Color of the Year, and every year, waves are made that ripple across industries – each industry abuzz with Pantone’s chosen color. As part of the hype, social media trends tend to surge for keywords revolving around the color, and speculation and excitement begin even before the Pantone announcement. Like it or not, Pantone makes a splash in many visual markets (like fashion and interior design); and it’s a splash you can’t ignore, even if you tried.

With all eyeballs on Color of the Year, though, confusion often hangs in the air: What exactly is Pantone, anyway? And why is there a color of the year?

Pantone is a color-matching company. It’s purpose is to create a universal system of colors, where each color has a name and code, and each name and code is always associated with the same exact hue, every time. This form of color-coding ensures that when businesses and consumers talk about colors, they’re talking about the same color, the same shade. Consumers will never buy a product – and then end up complaining that that’s not the certain shade of ­­­­­­yellow they specified. Pantone is a form of clear communication; it’s a needed system, and one that’s kept Pantone as respected within industries as it is today.

Why Is There a Color of the Year?

Pantone’s Color of the Year is the output of the Pantone Color Institute, a team of color experts devoted to choosing a color for the new year. According to their website, this team looks at trends in places like “fashion, all areas of design, popular travel destinations, as well as new lifestyles, playstyles, and socio-economic conditions.” In other words, the Color of the Year is intended to be a sort of “snapshot” of current affairs, or a way to symbolize a collective mood.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Articles featuring tips and advice are intended for educational purposes and only as general recommendations. Always practice personal discretion when using and caring for furniture, decor and related items.