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Monday Musings: Pantone's Color(s) of the Year

Towards the end of every year there are certain companies (especially paint companies) that come out with what they are predicting will be a color that will be most influencial to us as a society for the following year. They also provide a selection of other colors that tend to compliment the main color, creating somewhat of a full color palette to work with. Usually this color we will see in one form or another, in everything from beauty to fashion to home decor and even influencing wedding palettes. Of all of the companies to put out a color trend, the one most revered across the board is Pantone. Not only that, it is their color formulations that are the standards by which both artists and designers refer to when they are communicating exactly what colors they want. When my graphic designer wants to communicate what color she is using for my logo, she will send me the numeric formulation related to the color on the Pantone scale so I can know exactly what it looks like without question.

This is the second time Pantone has come out with not 1, but 2 colors of the year. The last time they did was in 2016 when they came out with serenity (cornflower blue) and rose quartz (blush pink). It was just around that time that we saw a huge surge in that blush pink (and gold) for weddings. Coincidence? I think not. I remember seeing a lot of the light blue in different avenues: clothing, paint, accessories- but in my opinion, the rose quartz was the bigger winner that year in that I saw it's influence everywhere.

This year, paint company Benjamin Moore's main color for 2021 is Aegean Teal.

This color made sense to me right off the bat. It is in the family of beautifully saturated colors we are seeing being applied to cabinetry these days (ala Jean Stoffer Design, below). Plus it's hard not to love the clean blue-green color reminiscent of water and nature. I'm an instant fan of it.

Pantone decided 2 colors were in order for 2021. In contrast to Agean Teal, Pantone's choice did not make sense to me initially. It took me some time to wrap my mind around the color choice, because at first glance- well, I'll let you be the judge. I do know when choosing the colors- they put a lot of thought behind it. In fact, Pantone has a Color Institute dedicated to the study of color and what is currently relevant and why. Pantone states that the Color of the Year is actually “…a color snapshot of what we see taking place in our global culture that serves as an expression of a mood and an attitude.” Here are the 2 colors that the powers that be christened as 2021's colors- see how they resonate with you:

If you are anything like me, the immediate reaction is- well- less than desirable. It definitely doesn't give me all the warm feels I get when I look at Benjamin Moore's Aegean Teal to say the least. I mean, I can more easily see them separate than together- the combination of the 2 colors create more dissonance for me than not. My immediate thought was Big Bird with duct tape- not my idea of what I want people to think when I enter a room. It's a very abrupt combination to my eye. But upon reading more about it, this is exactly what they intended when they chose the colors. Laurie Pressman, VP of the Pantone Color Institute states, "Two extremely independent colors highlight how different elements come together to express this message of strength and hopefulness." credit So this is exactly what I was supposed to feel, they really do know what they're doing! (I knew that- but it's pretty cool when you see it in front of you, plain as day)

I'm not saying that it's Pantone's idea to have to have the 2 combined at the same time, in the same space (at least I've never read or seen anything to suggest that). They are all about how color motivates and affects us. And I have heard them say that the colors really choose themselves as a result of everything that's going on around us on a global level. Sometimes it's more politically charged, sometimes more personally, sometimes more globally. This years colors are certainly a reflection of all of those to some degree. But always the color(s) comes out of a reflection of what's most affecting us and where we are at in the world. It doesn't take much to think about the heaviness we have experienced this past year. Without a doubt, there has never been such a time that the world has a whole has been in the same boat- at least in my lifetime. Covid has firmly placed everyone on the same playing field. We are all playing the same game and have understood and experienced the magnitude of it (albiet we have different ideas of how the game should be played- but that is for another blog).

I decided to step back and to look at the colors idividually- Illuminating first. Yellow. I mean essentially primary yellow. In one sense, back to basics. (hmmm- sound familiar?) In another sense- bright, hopeful, loud, sunny, ultra saturated, lemon peels, the sun, sunflowers, light bulbs driving out the darkness from a room. Still yet another sense; the international sign of caution- road signs, yellow traffic lights. Yes, all of this is something we can relate to. I've heard the word 'hope' more as we approached the end of 2020 than I ever have before. We need it, we crave it, we are looking for it. At the same time we remain cautious. For good reason.

What about Ultimate Gray? For one- it is the most basic, neutral gray. According to CNN it is the first achromatic color to make the title- meaning there is no color other than black & white in it. It is literally the most neutral you can go with a color because there is no undertone in it. Because of this, it reads ultra industrial- like the steel foundation of a highrise building. It provides a sense of groundedness, stability, steadfastness, quietness. It is the unsung hero that serves as the neutral background against which other colors can be highlighted. Wow. This couldn't be more opposite of Illuminating and yet equally as needed in the times we are living in.

I'm still in love with Benjamin Moore's pick of Aegean Teal and plan to find ways to incorporate it where appropriate in my interiors this year. And while it's unlikely you'll see me painting any walls Ultimate Gray or Illuminating (but I'm not ruling out muted hues of them!) I will also keep these Pantone colors in mind and would also love to find was to integrate them as a project dictates. Because I couldn't agree more; after last year, we all need more brightness, cheerfulness and hope against a steady, solid grounding. It's slow, but it's coming. We are all ready for it.

color quote, yellow flower


Your turn- What are your thoughts on Pantone's colors? Can you see yourself incorporating them into your decor- even in a small way? Use the comment section to share your thoughts!


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