In 2020, the Color of the Year chosen by the Color Institute, Classic Blue, has proven incredibly forward-looking. Announced a few weeks before the first Covid-19 outbreak was discovered, this shade is being used for medical scrubs around the world. Perhaps knowing that lightning is unlikely to strike twice, in 2021, the American paint brand’s foresight team chose two shades – Ultimate Gray and Illuminating – for the second time in twenty years of color of the year history.
Their choice of color of the year is often controversial. This year, this combination has been compared to the shades of light vests, road markings and “screaming sickly urban melancholy, brutal façade, cold sun and cement.” Vogue described it simply as a “really weird” solution. The Color Institute calls its choice this year “a message of happiness, backed by fortitude.” But the darker values of Ultimate Gray, a pale shade they compare to “beach pebbles and natural elements,” aren’t hard to find. The sweatpants we all wore every morning. The sameness of days passing one into another.
The second choice, Illuminating, is a light yellow color that has been described as “vibrant and cheerful”, “sparkling with cheerfulness” and “soaked in solar energy, when they chose a warmer yellow, Mimosa, they said that “no other color expresses hope and confidence more than yellow.” Much may have changed in 10 years, but it looks like the interpretation of yellow has remained the same.
In an interview with Vogue, Pantone trend analysts explained that they chose two colors because “it became apparent that there would never be one color that could express everything that needed to be expressed – instead, it was important to have two independent colors that could to get together. represented “well-being” and “a move towards gender equality and fluidity.” Choosing the color of the year is often a social statement – the climate crisis was the clear starting point for Living Coral in 2019 and Greenery in 2017. In September this year, the paint brand also released Period, a vibrant shade of red to get rid of the attempt to circumvent the naturalness of discussing menstruation.