After living through quite possibly the worst year ever, we look back on a time in which we wrestled with a global pandemic, illness, economic distress and social upheaval.

Which makes the Pantone Color Institute, which chose Classic Blue as the Color of the Year for 2020, pretty prescient.

“It’s a color that anticipates what’s going to happen next,” Laurie Pressman, the vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, said last year in predicting a blue trend. (One could argue that the prediction manifested in a blue mood, a Democratic president and the World Champion Dodgers).

On Wednesday, Pantone announced that its 2021 Colors of the Year are Ultimate Gray and  Illuminating, shades chosen for their warmth and dependability.

The Pantone press release issued Wednesday described Illuminating as “a bright and cheerful yellow sparkling with vivacity, a warming yellow shade imbued with solar power.” Ultimate Gray, like pebbles, is emblematic of “solid and dependable elements which are everlasting and provide a firm foundation.”

The choices are important because they set an optimistic tone for a new year and influence trends.

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The Pantone Color Institute chose Illuminating — a bright and cheerful yellow — and Ultimate Gray — a solid and dependable  hue — as its colors of the year. The shades set an optimistic tone for the new year. (Courtesy of Pantone)
The Pantone Color Institute chose Illuminating — a bright and cheerful yellow — and Ultimate Gray — a solid and dependable hue — as its colors of the year. The shades set an optimistic tone for the new year. (Courtesy of Pantone)

“The selection of two independent colors highlight how different elements come together to express a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting, conveying the idea that it’s not about one color or one person, it’s about more than one. The union of an enduring Ultimate Gray with the vibrant yellow Illuminating expresses a message of positivity supported by fortitude,” Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, said in a press release. “Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, this is a color combination that gives us resilience and hope. We need to feel encouraged and uplifted, this is essential to the human spirit.”

Pantone’s ability to forecast color trends is a marketing force that helps furniture, textile, fashion, accessory and technology designers choose designs from season to season. Beginning today, retailers, designers and fashion brands will flood our inboxes with gray and yellow toothbrushes and swimsuits; nail polish and exterior paint options.

UCLA economists share Pantone’s optimistic outlook for 2021, predicting on Wednesday that the U.S. economy will experience “a gloomy COVID winter and an exuberant vaccine spring,” followed by years of growth.

If the Pantone Color of the Year is designed to highlight the relationship between color trends and what is happening in the world, we can only hope that this year’s forecast of hope and stability is more than just an educated guess.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.