The sound of yellow: a shining light in 2021

Could yellow be the light to guide us into a new dawn?
Way back at the beginning of the year Pantone forecast the rise of yellow in 2021, choosing the aptly named ‘illuminating’ yellow  (PANTONE 13-0647) as their shade of choice. They paired this with a smooth ‘ultimate’ grey (PANTONE 17-5104) to create their colour palette – the second time in their history that Pantone has selected two colours for their much anticipated ‘colour of the year’.

After a year that has been something of a roller coaster (and by something of a roller coaster I mean the sort with five corkscrews, a vertical loop and a 200ft drop) there’s a cheering symbolism to these two colours side by side: the light at the end of the tunnel. A shining beacon of hope after the rocky landscape of the past eighteen months. “[Yellow] is a history of colour that contains deep feelings of thought and the promise of something sunny and friendly” Pantone states– that seems just about what we need right now!

Yellow and grey sit remarkably well together, full of contrast and yet surprisingly harmonious. Distinctively suave, with an undeniable hint of the Parisian – this colour combination lands us squarely in the present day.

It might be shining it’s way into 2021 but our fascination with yellow is nothing new. It’s been capturing our imagination for thousands of years. Yellow ochre has been found in cave paintings over 17,000 years old and is one of the oldest pigments used by man. With its sunny, vibrant hue it is a colour that treads its own path. Some see happiness, positivity and light in its warmth, others, a wild, daring statement.

Lauded abstract artist Wassily Kandinsky was fascinated by colour. Thought to have had a rare neurological condition named Synesthesia in which one sense concurrently stimulates another, Kandinsky heard particular sounds associated each hue. His works express this joyful blending of music and art.

For Kandinsky yellow was a bold, striking colour; the antithesis of the serene, spiritual blue. There’s a dynamism to Kandinsky’s yellow, as if it were leaping toward us. He describes the “movement of yellow” as it makes an “approach to the spectator.” Kandinsky’s description gives the colour its own life force, reaching out to us from the canvas. He sees yellow “over-spreading boundaries” and even suggests a “material parallel in the human energy, which assails every obstacle blindly, and bursts forth aimlessly in every direction.” – Quite a testimonial! Kandinsky was so fascinated he even wrote an avant-garde theatrical piece dedicated to the sight, and sound, of yellow.

With such dynamism, it’s no surprise that Yellow is being favoured more and more by interior designers and decorators. This colour is a powerful tool when it comes to interior decoration, capable of transforming the atmosphere of a room with just a few simple touches. Bright splashes of lemon could be used to add a burst of sunshine, a symbolic dash of hope. It’s the perfect colour if you want to add vibrancy to an otherwise modernist muted colour palette without losing that sense of simplicity. Or you could go all out, brining in the sunshine with feature walls and matching furnishings.

But yellow doesn’t need to be bold to be beautiful. From dazzling canary to soft straw, it’s a colour with masses of personality. After the struggles of 2020 we’re all looking for a bit of comfort, cheer and relaxation. Our homes have suddenly become the centre of our universe and I think now more than ever we’re looking to create our own calming sanctuary. Warm honey yellows might be the perfect accompaniment to a rustic, earthy look as interior trends move toward an appreciation of the soothing shades of the natural world.

There’s no doubt it’s been a difficult time for us all. Unpredictable, bewildering and occasionally maddening, we’ve been through a tough year together. Despite the struggles, there have been glimmers of a silver lining – I don’t think I’d be alone in admitting I’ve discovered the restorative nature of pausing, allowing time for stillness and giving myself space to breathe. Running on a slower pace has brought into sharp focus how hectic our everyday life used to be and perhaps now we’ll spend a little more time on the things that make us feel happy and calm. A new dawn is on the horizon and what better colour to lead us into the next chapter than yellow? The sun is shining, time to let the light in.

Can’t get enough yellow? We have some stunning works that might just be up your street here...
Still want more? Checkout our Pinterest board ‘yellow’ for interior design ideas, colour palettes and more.

A fellow friend of the gram? Pantone has designed a chic colour filter for your posts, inspired by this year’s scheme. Give it a try here.