What's behind colour trends?

American colour company Pantone believes that the pairing of shades will help people "fortify themselves with energy, clarity and hope" in a world that's set to face increasing uncertainty.

In December, Pantone announced that it had chosen two colours of the year for 2021: Ultimate Grey and Illuminating, a combination of a dull, familiar grey and the bright yellow of a lemon skin.

It’s a choice for the past year of quarantine, a time in which we had to insulate ourselves from the world and curl up in monochrome blankets at home.

Grey is the colour of contemplation; it makes us notice things we might not have paid attention to before, standing out amidst the tedium.

“Illuminating,” the bright, highlighter-yellow colour, is the light at the end of the tunnel, the sun rising over a dark landscape, the dawning of hope that comes with the possibility of a vaccine.




In fact, many people have been buying paint during quarantine, swapping out their wall colours to alleviate boredom. But paint brands have been noticing a marked decline in the popularity of dark grey in favour of more organic colours like light blues and greens, perhaps a wish to bring some nature indoors.


But grey can provide its own kind of relaxation, offering a space that’s neutral both emotionally and physically. The yellow is like an accent wall.

Over the past decade, Pantone’s colour picks have been remarkably saturated, with bright, striking hues like Living Coral (2019), Ultraviolet (2018), and Radiant Orchid (2014). These are energetic colours, the kind that can spark inspiration or surprise. Grey isn’t nearly as exciting, but how could the company announce anything else after the past year except that omnipresent, boring shade? More than anything else, we’re looking for a return to normalcy.


Illuminating yellow can be used in pieces of furniture that are easily added to give a colour boost to an existing grey scheme.


Whether you're embarking on a large renovation project or redecorating the family home, Zinc Interior Design is on hand to help you transform your home or business. We will tailor design advice that is utterly bespoke to you, suggesting a cohesive scheme that suits your lifestyle and a palette that compliments your home.

Nube chair by STUA , Design: Jesús Gasca & Jon Gasca.


Bolonia stool by iSiMAR, citric yellow RAL 1016



Products from STUA and iSiMAR are available in Ireland through Zinc Interior Design.

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