A few days ago Pantone released their 2021 colours. The last time they released two colours for a single year it was 2016, another of recent history’s most tumultuous and divisive years. Hopefully these two shades are signally an end to separation and ushering in a positive new era. Curiously, in contrast to Dulux’s warm neutral Brave Ground, Pantone have selected Ultimate Gray and Illuminating – a cool toned neutral and a vibrant, sunny accent.
Ultimate Gray has been selected to represent the state we have reached in quarantine, a place of neither here nor there with a depressing ambiguity and lack of resolution. Ultimate Gray is contrasted against the bold yellow Illuminating, chosen to imply a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. Together, the tones have been likened to Maurizio Cattelan’s Comedian sculpture of a banana duct taped to a wall and the contrast of grey and yellow is slightly cartoonish in appearance, although not unpleasant.
Grey is a classic colour for the home, and has been popular for years as the go-to neutral. Although warmer toned neutral shades have been suggested as being popular post 2020, grey is not looking to disappear just yet. Providing its own gateway to calm, some favour grey over beige and cream thanks to its balance, riding the line between black and white.
Yellow is an interesting choice, and the undeniably sunny shade of Illuminating cannot help but represent happiness. Combined with the mature tones of grey, interiors can embrace yellow in exciting ways, adding a touch of character amongst neutral calm.