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BASF forecasts automotive color trends

By Tim Wright | July 31, 2009

BASF Coatings designers forecast automotive color trends of the future.

Turbulence, crisis, recession. Today's events of the global markets have an impact on trends. "It's true that uncertainty and tension are impacting current trends. But when it comes to the world of colors, we are not observing a doomsday mentality," said Eva Höfli and Mark Gutjahr, color designers at BASF Coatings AG. Quite the opposite, in fact. Colors actually reinforce the trend by taking on, processing and reflecting topics ranging from harmony to confusion and even the crisis itself. Thus, colors will continue to serve as a factor in the emotions accompanying the decision to buy a car.

While in the past the color spectrum focused on the spectacular, it is now featuring very individual, even personal colors. "What will the future bring?" is the question of the hour, reflecting a shift to a level-headed concentration on one's own capacity rather than the high-strung cut-throat attitude of the past. "In an impressive manner, the global financial crisis has demonstrated the fragility of the material fortune we cling to," said Gutjahr. In line with this, the automotive color trends of tomorrow are reflecting the realization that there's more to life than material wealth. Gutjahr and Höfli are observing three major developments.

The new eco-drivers: Guardians of the earth

Environmental concerns have had wide repercussions and are gaining in significance. Former "eco-activists" have become the guardians of the earth with a powerful impact on trends. For them, ecology, individuality and awareness of luxury are inseparable. They have broadened their thematic and emotional horizons, which in turn impacts the tenor of the color climate. "In this 'new ecology,' we are observing sensual pastels ranging from a grayed apricot to a yellowish beige," Höfli said. Green, the color logo of the ecology movement, is developing more toward warmer, more discreet color ranges and in so doing, reflects a more conscientious and decelerated awareness of ecological concerns. Warm browns are also part of the repertoire. "The notions of reductionism and 'going without' used to be associated with 'green ideology. 'That has changed today. These days, an ecological mindset can also be luxurious and elegant," said Gutjahr, describing society's change in attitude.

In addition to this abstract natural approach to life, the color spectrum of intelligent ecology is also showing its emotional sides. Powerful blues and dark, warm greens are being used with a great deal of sensitivity and intensity. Chromatic highlights and a shift in colors toward black charge these strong natural colors emotionally and infuse them with drama.In this area, copper and bronze tints are important sources of inspiration.

Time for something new, or: The joy of experimenting

Of course, the world of automotive color trends will continue to be a laboratory for boundless experimenting. The approach is self-confident, sophisticated and at the same time playful, guided by a lively landscape of art and culture. "We call the results Bold Colors," Gutjahr said. They are marked by strong, bold colors such as toxic yellows and red and pink combinations, which grab one's gaze with an unusual chromatic color shift. The extreme sparkle effects in icy blue and dark violet attract special attention. "In this area, you can clearly recognize the joy of experimenting," Gutjahr explained. "In the world of color, the dwindling confidence in a complex world not only triggers the flight response, but also brings out courage and the inspiration to set out on an unknown course."

Turning old into new, or: Beyond silver

New raw materials are being sought that can be used to construct the color world of tomorrow. Indications of new demands for science and technology are also in the air for futuristic metals.Instead of technical bells and whistles, sensual moments such as haptics are top priority. The goal is a new approach to the world. A soft and almost wax-like surface look and bright, fractured white areas are indications of a growing interest in model-like and shapable things. "We have moved beyond the classic metal look," Höfli said. Important elements of special effect design for this area are extremely bright sparkles. Dark and tinted silver and black with strong color travel and high-effect deep black are other prominent representatives of this trend world.

Source: BASF