For only the second time, two colours were chosen as the 2021 Pantone Colour of the Year. Did Pantone miss the memo on the grey trend? Here’s why a colour expert thinks a grey with “no undertone” and a yellow is a remarkable choice for colour of the year, and what other colours are trending.
What is most remarkable about this colour of grey? For 20 years I have been waiting to see this grey with no undertone.
And, here it is.
When I saw it first posted last night I thought. . . Hmmmm. . . is it blue or green?
Well, it’s neither. Not really. It’s a non colour, made with only black and white, like a black and white photo. It’s “achromatic”.
As quoted by CNN, “It’s the first time an achromatic shade (gray) has been selected.”
And being completely desaturated, or “achromatic” it is not a colour you will often find in any paint deck or fabrics.
It’s closest to blue grey in my system. In the context of warmer greys, you can bet it will look relatively blue.
In practice, where cooler desaturated greys tend to lean blue (think battleship grey porch and floor paint), the most neutral and versatile greys are the green greys, because they are the colour of natural stone and concrete. Check out my demonstration here.
Throughout the grey trend, the world was looking for the “most neutral” grey.
And I think that’s because, like the current white walls trend, people assume that the best white or perfectly neutral grey wall colour lets them off the hook when it comes to coordinating colour.
But let me just tell you, there is no magical neutral grey that doesn’t need to be related to your decor.
“Ultimate Gray” is a completely artificial and desaturated grey, more of a digital colour for graphic design. To mix it in paint, you would use only black and white, no nuance or life at all.
In real life, most greys you’ll decorate with, will show an undertone.
And that’s a good thing, because the prettiest greys to decorate with have undertones, that bit of colour is what gives them life.
And regardless of whether you have a flat desaturated grey, or a more lively and subtle blue, green or violet grey, you STILL need to make sure it relates to the other greys in the room or it will look, not like the magical and easy “most neutral grey”, but like the WRONG grey.
So looking for the “most neutral grey” is simply the wrong question in decorating.
However Pantone, as always, has a highly abstract spin. And I was pleasantly surprised, this year’s rationale feels more honest.
2021 Pantone Colours of the Year
“Though Pantone is known for its color forecasting and trend reports, Pressman said the Color of the Year is not driven by data. “What are we looking for? What do we need? And what are the psychological characteristics of that color that can give us what we’re looking for?” Pressman posed.
The decision is informed not only by the state of the world, but also what’s happening in the fashion and art spheres. But this year, she said, “You can’t get away from the overwhelming influence of the pandemic.”
According to Pantone’s press statement, Illuminating is associated with optimism and vivacity, while Ultimate Gray encourages “feelings of composure, steadiness and resilience.”
Now we don’t have to wonder if Pantone missed the memo that the grey trend ended three years ago when the black and white trend arrived. They are not pretending to forecast colour trends, but rather anoint a pair of colours to lead us forward with an inspiring story.
Ultimate Gray and Illuminating
Every colour has positive and negative meanings and associations. You can spin them to suit the economic mood no matter what it is.
But yellow does say happy the best. And, we sure need more of that in this world, both this year and definitely going forward in 2021.
You may already know yellow is my favourite colour. Here’s a collection of posts about yellow.
Before I go on, here’s a little reminder… likely those of you who have been reading this blog a long time already know this! 😉
There’s NOTHING wrong with grey as a background to colour. The reason the grey trend arrived right after the brown trend is because the consumer (which is YOU) started craving brighter, fresher colours. Because prior to that, we’d been decorating with earth tones for 30 years. And grey was the perfect, crisp backdrop to those cleaner colours.
Grey is not going away, it is simply quickly receding in importance for interiors.
What Colours Are Trending?
Colours are getting warmer, earthier, muddier (or dirty) again. Starting with this particular shade of richer yellow that actually is TRENDING big time. I would describe it as a mustard/ochre shade:
It’s about time yellow came back in as a trend colour. 🙂 Add in some yellow to your colour scheme and that just equals joy.
It’s also the perfect colour to bring grey to life if you find yourself bored with your recent passion for grey all over your house.
Read more: 4 Ways to Decorate Around Your Charcoal Sofa
Over to you my lovelies. Since this is the time of year where everyone is talking about decor trends that are either IN or OUT, I’d love to know what you think. What do you see that is OUT, and what you see that is trending NOW?
After all, colour trends do not get chosen by colour marketers in ivory towers with crystal balls.
The future of colour is ALWAYS driven by YOU.
And I find my readers to be the most current, because it’s y’all keep me on trend with your comments on the blog, as well as in your questionnaires for eDesign consultations all over North America (and sometimes even around the world).
My team and I have the privilege of virtually being in your home, helping you choose your paint colours, hardwood floors, countertops, home decor, really every colour for the home. So when I get asked by reporters if colour trends vary from East to West, I can answer confidently that the same colours get chosen all around the country. That is, for my readers anyway.
For the rest of the world, colour trends start in the East (where people have the most money and can adopt them quicker), then they jump over to the West, and then trickle down to the middle of the country before they are accepted as mainstream. And, that generally takes more time.
Which is why when colour experts declare that a colour trend is OUT, it takes a lot longer for that message to land depending on where you live.
Incidentally, the best place to look for where colour is RIGHT NOW, is the towel section of any home store because they turnover faster than other bigger items.
Obviously they had other colours too but the grey section at my local home decor store last week, was the biggest.
When I shopped with my childhood friend Nancy for her living room refresh last month, we noticed how much espresso furniture (from the brown trend, that ended over 10 years ago) was still abundantly for sale in big box stores.
That’s because they obviously still have containers full of espresso furniture, because it was still being manufactured, even though trends had already moved to grey (10 years ago).
Here in the west coast, it’s only been in the last two years that even outdoor furniture was available in shades of grey (that is, in big box stores). It means that it took almost the full 10 years of the grey trend to sell off brown outdoor furniture. Yikes.
This brings me back to why I never stop talking about classic and timeless colours and design.
Okay, over to you! Please give me your thoughts!
What’s IN? What’s OUT? And, make sure you include WHERE you live!
That will make this even more interesting. Then, I’ll create a post including your comments, so I can’t wait to see what you have to say!