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Colors of the year are here

This is not a holiday story. Think of it as a colorful tale of its own making — with an embedded message.

Let’s start with this imperative: “Get ready for a brighter future.” This is a phrase we can all embrace. But it comes from an unexpected source: trend forecasters who focus on the influence of color on how the world operates.

The organization is called Pantone. Each year it chooses a designated “color of the year.” The 2019 color was Living Coral. In retrospect, I see that choice as becoming the dominant shade in many crown-shaped coronavirus graphics. But maybe that’s just me. The designated color in 2020 was a dark, earthy “you-can-trust-me” Classic Blue. And we all saw how that worked out.

Vanessa Friedman, author of a recent New York Times article announcing the designated color for the coming year, suggests that after experience with the two preceding years’ colors, the expectation might have been “grim black.”

Stay with me here — this gets better.

The color of the year announcement for 2021 came last week. It began like this; “There is general agreement on very little in this world, save, perhaps one thing: This year was a mess and the next one cannot come fast enough.”

With that in mind, the Pantone Color Institute, an organization of trend forecasters, futurists if you will, who offer the color of the year and “scour the globe” looking for the color that sends the best message, has made its call. The prognosticators believe in the power of color and are clearly committed to this project — creative by nature. So this year they chose not one, but two colors.

In 2021, get ready for Ultimate Gray and Illuminating. Think of it as a metaphor: “The light at the end of the tunnel. There may be further metaphor in having two colors partnering with one another in this way — not by definition complementary but offering the potential to be collaborative. Old and young if you will.

I did not know Illuminating was a color and initially envisioned it is as lemony, angelic yellow with an embedded sparkle. We certainly can all use some sparkle right now. But, because facts matter, I did a little research and the actual color appears to be more boldly lemon than sparkly angelic.

“Bold” is definitely the way to describe one half of the designated color team for the coming year. I see the color as a reminder that kind of approach may be needed — there will always be bitter, sour experiences for each and all of us. But we are a resilient and well-practiced public in stepping up to difficulties. And there is always the lemons/lemonade reminder.

The Pantone folks take all this very seriously. As illustration, “No one color could get across the meaning of the moment,” Laurie Pressman, the vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, stated regarding the decision. “We all realized we cannot do this alone. We all have a deeper understanding of how we need each other and emotional support and hope.” Illuminating.

Sharon Johnson is a retired health educator Reach her at sharjohn99@gmail.com.