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Most years get a color but 2021 gets two5 min read

December 24, 2020 4 min read


Most years get a color but 2021 gets two5 min read

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Pantone 2021 color of the year: There are two

Did you know that before each year begins, color specialists choose colors to represent the year? What an odd job, you might think. Or, perhaps, how whimsical? Well, this color picking business is quite impactful.

Every year after the color of the year is declared, designers and architects get cracking. They use that color to create new fashions and reinvent homes to make them fresh and trendy. Paint makers start making those colors in abundance, and our streets, houses, and clothes brim with some color that was picked by a room of color-picking experts.

How is this color picked?

Well, first, the experts go over the news and what’s going on in society. Then they see how these current events will impact the events of the next year. Once they understand that, they try to puzzle out the mood and meaning generated by these events. Once they have that, all they need is the perfect color to match the mood.

Owliver’s Obscure Observation: Colors are often used to depict moods and emotions in literature, film, and fashion. Different cultures use different colors as symbols for various occasions and emotions! While death is represented with black in Europe and other western countries, we often wear white to depict death in India.

Activity: What do the colours in this artists work mean to you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Artist: Andi Concha via The New York Times

Who are these mysterious experts?

Imagine you go to a friend’s house and see a yellow wall in their room. You really like the color of the wall and want the same in your bedroom. So, you rush home and tell your parents to buy you a bucket of yellow paint. But they bring the paint home, you find that even though it is yellow, the color is nowhere near the yellow that your friend had. Her shade of yellow is totally different, but you don’t have a name for it. How do you match the paint on the two walls?

There is a place known as Pantone color institute where experts design a system so that you can do that. What does that mean? Well, they’ve made a color matching system with several shades of each color. Each shade is associated with a specific number and name. They also make color cards with all the colors and their associated numbers identified on them. 

FHI Color Guide, Limited Edition Color of the Year 2021

So, first, match the color of your friend’s wall with the identical Pantone shade. Once you’ve done that, identify the number associated with the color that matches your friend’s wall. Then, share that number with your paint supplier. Finally, you and your friends can have matching walls in your rooms.

<<An example of Pantone’s color swatches. Image: Pantone

Owliver’s Obscure Observation: Pantone not only matches and identifies shades of various colors but also develops entirely new shades!

Getting back to the color of the year, what is this year’s color of the year?

Well, the color of 2020 was declared classic blue at the end of 2019. Considering the number of nurses and doctors wearing blue, people can’t help but think that Pantone is involved in some futuristic voodoo. This year, however, thanks to the craziness of 2020, the experts had no choice but to pick two colors to represent 2021!

Pantone Color of the Year 2021: Best of Pantone
Image: Neuron Themes

What are the colors? 

Cotton Swatch Card

The two colors that represent 2021 are Ultimate Grey (17-5104) and Illuminating (13-0647) Yellow. The two colors come together and support each other like the light at the end of a tunnel. While the grey represents the strength and resilience that we will need to get through Covid-19, the yellow represents the hope that came with the vaccine.

Image: Pantone

Regardless of this beautiful message, some people found humor in next year’s pick. Check out these pictures to see what people thought these colors actually represented: 

What do Pantone’s color choices remind you of? Let us know in the comments below.

With excerpts from: Pantone, The New York Times, The Guardian

Did you know that the Oxford English Dictionary declares a word of the year at the end of each year? Learn about why this year was special.

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