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2021's colors of the year have PNW roots

The Bainbridge Island woman behind the annual trend tradition

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, Wash. — You can always tell what the 'Color of the Year' is by what Leatrice Eiseman wears to her interview:

In 2018 she wore Ultra Violet.

In 2019, Living Coral was her color.

We recently talked to the Bainbridge Island color expert and executive director of the Pantone Institute of Color, and she was wearing two hues for 2021:

"Well there are two colors - there's Ultimate Gray, and there's Illuminating, which is a yellow,” said Eiseman. "And the reason we decided to do two colors this year instead of one is that obviously we've been through a really heavy duty time, and we need colors that would represent two diverse feelings, and yet when you use them together, they would support each other.”

Supporting each other – that’s a great idea for 2021. Pantone is an organization that standardizes and names hues so that artists have a common reference point to work from. And out of the thousands of colors in their palette, Ultimate Gray and Illuminating are their colors for 2021, only the second time two colors have been named: the first time was Rose Quartz and Serenity for 2016.

“Gray is a color that, from a psychological standpoint, is a color of resilience. It's something that's steady for us, that we can depend on. It has a grounded feeling,” Eiseman explained.

"And the yellow is traditionally the color of hope. The color that represents that there are going to be better days tomorrow. The color that represents sunshine and cheer and perhaps something that's going to bring a little light into our lives."

Wondering how these colors will show up in your life?

Look around you. They're already here.

"In interior design we're seeing some absolutely gorgeous examples of the two colors,” said Eiseman.

And to use these colors in fashion - you don't even have to shop: "It also plays to the fact that many people today are already shopping in their own closets."

Look in your closet - chances are, you already own some ‘Ultimate Gray’.

"I'm going to pull those out - but now, I'm going to accent them, just as I have today, with a fun pair of yellow beads to give it a new look."

Whether you like the colors, or loathe them, the influencers behind 2021's Pantone Colors of the Year are happy to offer some options beyond black and white.

"I think what it does is it helps to get the creative juices going, and for us that is the major story - get people talking about color, how they can use it, how they can be creative with it. That's our reason for doing the colors in the first place."

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