Every “Color of the Year” Since 2000

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Pantone is a familiar term to millions of people, ranging from artists and designers to manufacturers and consumers. Pantone is actually a company based in New Jersey (a subsidiary of Danaher Corporation). Its Pantone Color Matching System is a widely used proprietary catalogue of standardized colors. There are more than 2,100 different ones.

Each year Pantone selects a Color of the Year. “Pantone’s color experts…comb the world looking for new color influences,” says the company. “These can include the entertainment industry and films in production, traveling art collections and new artists, fashion, all areas of design, popular travel destinations, as well as new lifestyles, playstyles, and socio-economic conditions. Influences may also stem from new technologies, materials, textures, and effects that impact color, relevant social media platforms and even upcoming sporting events that capture worldwide attention.” (Looking backwards, perhaps some earlier Pantone colors were influenced by fashion trends only kids from the ‘90s will remember.)

Drawing on the company’s records, 24/7 Tempo has listed every Pantone Color of the Year since 2000 – 25 in all, since in 2021 there were two: Ultimate Gray and Illuminating. “Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, the union of PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray + PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating is one of strength and positivity,” said Pantone. “It is a story of color that encapsulates deeper feelings of thoughtfulness with the promise of something sunny and friendly.” 

Many people would regard Ultimate Gray as appropriate for the year the Covid pandemic struck; perhaps fewer would see anything Illuminating in 2021. (These are American brands that have gone bankrupt during COVID.)