Credit: Pantone Color Institute
As 2020 nears its tumultuous end, the Pantone Color Institute has taken up its annual task of forecasting the color that will best reflect the year ahead.
And, in a decision befitting a complex time, the color authority -- which standardizes swatches for the design industry -- has revealed not one, but two hues for its Color of the Year: the neutral Ultimate Gray and vibrant yellow Illuminating.
swatch [swɑ?t?]: n. 樣本，樣品
Pantone's swatches for its latest Colors of the Year: Illuminating, a vibrant light yellow, and Ultimate Gray, the first neutral shade to ever be selected. Credit: Pantone Color Institute
"It's a combination that speaks to the resilience, the optimism and hope and positivity that we need, as we reset, renew, reimagine and reinvent," said Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, in a video call along with executive director, Leatrice Eiseman.
It's the first time an achromatic shade (gray) has been selected, and the second time two colors have been chosen. In 2016, the pale pink and blue hues, Rose Quartz and Serenity broke the norm when they were presented as a gradient.
achromatic [,?kr?'m?t?k]: adj. 非彩色的
gradient [?ɡre?di?nt]: n. 漸變
"Two extremely independent colors highlight how different elements come together to express this message of strength and hopefulness," said Pantone VP Laurie Pressman. Credit: Pantone Color Institute
Though Pantone selecting two colors might be seen as hedging its bets -- a gray or yellow, depending on how 2021 unfolds -- Pressman and Eiseman want people to consider the colors' impact as a unified pair, hinting at the importance of solidarity in the coming year.
"Two extremely independent colors highlight how different elements come together to express this message of strength and hopefulness," said Pressman.
The only other time an optimistic yellow hue has been selected was during another widespread economic crisis. For 2009, Pantone chose the lively Mimosa, projecting a sense of hope as the Great Recession of 2008 rocked North and South America and Europe.
The color choices of Ultimate Gray and Illuminating mark the second time Pantone has opted for two different hues. Credit: Pantone Color Institute
According to Pantone's press statement, Illuminating is associated with optimism and vivacity, while Ultimate Gray encourages "feelings of composure, steadiness and resilience."
In her own research into color associations, Eiseman has found that yellow is often associated with "cheer" and "happiness," due to its correlation with the sun.
Pantone's selection for Ultimate Gray, however, is a bit more complicated. Though it was selected for its qualities of fortitude and reliability -- it's the color of stone, and a classic neutral in a wardrobe -- according to research, gray is linked with negative moods like sadness, fear and disappointment. In a year marked by mass illness and economic anxiety, such a selection isn't off base. But Pressman thinks gray can be a bit more versatile and open to interpretation. She and Eiseman point out it's a mid-gray, not a "heavy" shade.
Studies have found that the color yellow is most often associated with joy, while gray can be a bit more moody. Credit: Pantone Color Institute
However people interpret Pantone's choices this year, Pressman and Eiseman emphasize the strength of bringing two disparate colors together.
"What we were trying to demonstrate was how you have different elements that come together, and it's that coming together that expresses the strength and the hopefulness," said Eiseman.