Creative Connection

December 10, 2020 /Adobe Stock /

A new chapter for Pantone’s colour of the year in 2021

By Brenda Milis

It’s almost time to say a grateful hello to 2021 — not a moment too soon for many of us — and also for the announcement of the highly anticipated Pantone Colour of the Year. Or, rather, colours. Yes, this year we get two.

Ultimate Grey (PANTONE 17-5104) and Illuminating (PANTONE 13-0647) are Pantone’s dynamic duo for the 2021 Colour of the Year.

“The selection of two independent colours — PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Grey and PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating — to be our Pantone Colour of the Year for 2021 conveys the idea that is not about one colour or one person, it’s about more than one,” explains Laurie Pressman, vice-president of the Pantone Color Institute. “They communicate a deeper understanding of the importance of relationships and our need for one another. The joining of these two different colours speaks to the strength and optimism that results from unifying different ingredients.”

The two colours — together — are a testament to the ways in which we have joined as friends, family, and neighbours to bolster our communities during the COVID-19 crisis. They stand to remind us of the importance of our relationships, support systems, and collective work. Both practical and rock solid, warming and optimistic, the combination of Ultimate Grey and Illuminating is one of resilience and hope — for our new year and beyond.

PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating

Meet Illuminating, a bright and cheerful yellow that sparkles with vivacity. It’s the warm shade of sunny days, bright flowers, and welcomed hope at the start of something new — a new chapter, a new year, or a new outlook.

Image source: Left: Adobe Stock/Viktor Solomin/Stocksy United, right: Adobe Stock/Absphotography/Stocksy United.

PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Grey

Ultimate Grey, solid and dependable, builds a firm foundation of calm and security. It’s the colour of warm blankets, favourite sweaters, and natural elements whose weathered appearance highlights an ability to stand the test of time. Ultimate Grey quietly assures, encouraging feelings of composure, steadiness, and resilience.

Image source: Adobe Stock/

Colours united

Illuminating and Ultimate Grey, when used together, create a high visibility contrast — and that’s the appeal. Illuminating, punctuated by a touch of Ultimate Grey, conveys a message of spirit and of strength, while the reverse adds brightness to the understated. Painting a front door in bright Illuminating, for example, is a warm and welcoming message when supported by solid and dependable Ultimate Grey in exterior finishes. They are a great pair for home necessities like table linens, sheeting, and towels, giving otherwise everyday items a vivacious new look.

Image source: Left: Adobe Stock/J.Zhuk, right: Adobe Stock/Dashtik.

The two colours also make for a bold statement; friendly Illuminating, together with quietly assuring Ultimate Grey, is certainly a combo that demands attention. Illuminating sparkles and shimmers when paired with Ultimate Grey in beauty products, activewear, fashion accessories, and product packaging.

Join us in welcoming Pantone’s two new colours of the year by checking out our latest Adobe Stock gallery, inspired by the union of Illuminating and Ultimate Grey.

To see how Illuminating and Ultimate Grey harmonise with other colours in Pantone’s library, take a look at these five beautiful new palettes. Bright, joyful Aviary, the pretty pastels of Enlightenment, strong and timeless Sun and Shadow, rich, warm Intrigue, and the shimmering metallic of Orbital all feature 2021’s breakout stars.

Image source: Left: Adobe Stock/David Stenmarck, right: Adobe Stock/VISTA by Westend.

Image source: Left: Adobe Stock/Peter Tarka/AvantForm, right: Adobe Stock/The Nature Gallery/Stocksy United.

Image source: Left: Adobe Stock/Bonninstudio/Stocksy United, right: Adobe Stock/Maria Louceiro.

Image source: Left: Adobe Stock/Blackcatstudio, right: Adobe Stock/

Visit the Pantone Colour of the Year inspired gallery, featuring Illuminating and Ultimate Grey, on Adobe Stock.

Adobe Stock

Join the discussion