Pantone’s Color “Don’t” of the Year

Please don’t do this.  I beg you.  When I first saw this color palette I said, WHAT?  That’s 2020, right?

There is nothing about these versions of these two colors that we need right now…even if it is Gen Z yellow.  I am not going to say how beautiful the Pantone color(s) of the Year are.  They are colors we’ll see first, shouting at us to “stay in our lane.”  It’s true, almost universally, we could use some happiness and hope, but these two colors are NOT going to give us that.

When I saw the Pantone presentation today of their “Color of the Year:  Bright Yellow and Battleship Grey” I wanted to scream, or vomit.  That’s  the influence these two colors have on the body, stress and indigestion.

The colors we live with influence our human body and those colors drive our behavior.

Vibrant Yellow paired with Battleship Grey are depression city train stop.  A serious disaster waiting to happen, especially if you put these colors in your home or spaces.

Image courtesy of

Here’s why:

Yellow –  Bright vibrant yellow needs to be used with caution.  Although yellow is the ‘happiest’ color, it acts on us just like a ‘way too happy cheerleader’ does — you KNOW the feeling.  Too much time spent around this sunny-side-up will see you turn and run for the hills, or worse yet, snap on the people you love.   Too much, too bright yellow disrupts digestion, is overwhelming and quickly will turn you crabby.

Soft yellow will create a hug in the room, brining the walls to seem closer and the room to feel warmer.  Using this Vibrant Yellow is like being hugged to death by the Hulk, even though he is green.

Use a soft version of yellow if you want the benefits of yellow: warmth, detail focus, ability to digest food, ideas, events and relationships.  Choose a yellow that is pale and soothing, warm yet not like you are tied to the railroad tracks made to listen to a marching band.

Grey – And then there is the completely colorless battleship grey?  Really? Do they hate us?  “The ULTIMATE Grey” is not the best grey, it’s just the grey made from mixing white and black.

This white/black gray gives no respite, no warmth, no place to go…it’s depression city.

Made of black and white, it is a dichotomy of stress creating tension:  white shouts, is rigid and harsh, black absorbs all light energy into it, creating a black hole of life, together, you are screaming from the abyss, running for the edge.

Grey can be so luscious when made from the mixing of different pigments and colors. 

If you want grey, select a warm grey (this is what is really trending), perhaps something from C2 Paint line, which is zero to low-VOC and who’s artisan pigments are rich and luxurious and who’s paint formulas have NO black.  You see, greys have life, richness when mixed from complimentary colors, they become full-spectrum in a sense, offering richness to our lives.

Why NO BLACK?  Black absorbs light and energy from the room.  Some paints use black to insure the color stays as it is.  But grey made WITHOUT black, allows the surface to move with light…a tremendous benefit to health as sunshine is always moving and our bodies need this movement that we have been living with for the last 200,000 years.  Nature moves, bodies read it and need it.

In brief: 

  • Soft yellow – Yes, in certain places.  Rich, warm grey – Yes.
  • Pantone’s version – No.
    • A vibrant yellow, in a small dose, will perk us up for a bit but too bright, too vibrant, too much, or too much time spent will quickly turn to indigestion (of food, ideas, relationships) and snap crankiness.
    • Grey made with just white and black is very harsh and brutualistic to our nature – battleship grey is a great camouflage on the ocean but this colorless grey is very mean to a world that needs color as medicine.

Question: when you are selecting colors to live in, work in and learn in, do you ever go by the “color of the year” anyway?

What’s with These “Color of the Year” Anyway?

Pantone and other trending companies are now hip to the fact that their “color of the year” had limited legs, serving more as a marketing “hey look at me, let’s rally around this” than really underscoring the effect that color and its use has on life, or the fact that not many people want to live in ONE COLOR.

So the answer is, to give us a color palette…if one doesn’t work, here are twenty, figure it out.

You likely start with the color YOU love, one maybe you saw your friends using, maybe you even saw something on Instagram or Pinterest that you said, YES I like that because  my floor looks like that, my cabinets look like that and I want that room design.

Other trending companies have introduced 2021/22 Color palettes that are soft and invocative of soothing nourishment, touch and nature.   These are the things we need and crave and the things that color delivers.

Don’t buy the hype of this bright yellow and dead grey.

Yes Virginia, it IS about the color and the space – get that wrong and you have the reason you are edgy, distracted, crabby, fighting with your kids and your boss, unfocused and getting less done that you need to.