MADISON, Wis. — When Pantone announced that the colors of the year for 2021 would be yellow and grey, Majid Sarmadi — a Bascom professor at UW-Madison and an expert in textiles and color theory — wasn't surprised by the choices. 

“It made sense to me,” Sarmadi said. “It made sense to me because we are hopeful because [COVID-19] vaccine is coming and we cautiously putting this problem behind us hopefully in 2021.”

Sarmadi said the colors show that people are cautiously hopeful that we are going to have a much better year.

“We are not going gung-ho with total happiness and hope because of many issues,” Sarmadi said. “But therefore we will be keeping most of our conservative values this year while we will have a prosperous and happier year compared to 2020.”

Researchers at Pantone decide the color of the year through things like fashion, art, design, and general attitudes.

“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,” said Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute in a press release. “The union of an enduring Ultimate Gray with the vibrant yellow Illuminating expresses a message of positivity supported by fortitude.”

Last year the color was blue.

Sarmadi said colors mean something different in other parts of the world, so the Pantone colors only represent Western culture of the United States and Europe.

Sarmadi added that he hopes with the colors and 2021, people in general, have a good year.

“People are being very happy to use this color in many different ways, and you know anytime we can be happy we should,” Sarmadi said.