The designers of BASF’s Coatings division translated the question of individual data control, as well as the need for an extensive gathering of information for technical and social possibilities into a collection of 65 new automotive colors.
In the digital world, the beauty of the body and other analog objects gain more attention with an increasing number of people looking to hide from data collectors and surveillance. Warm, beige colors deal with aspects of the skin, while dark and light blues express digitalization of the human body.
In addition, data exchanged without the confines of time and space create fluid boundaries. Cars are developing from vehicles into highly complex products that communicate intensively with drivers and the environment. The intricacy of our connection to objects is reflected in dimensional sparkle and a mixture of crisp and clear effects. Pastel and chromatic colors and intense blues represent the image of new technologies and emphasize the uniqueness of the digital age.
In general, the relationship of fascination and fear as seen in the reflection in our digital mirror oscillates between dark and medium grays.
The designers of BASF’s Coatings division in China, Japan, the United States, and Germany develop up-and-coming colors for the automotive industry every year conducting extensive research and in-depth analysis. They uncover global trends and cultural shifts that will influence vehicle color choices three to five years from now. In addition to identifying global trends, the regional design teams find unique themes influenced by local circumstances and conditions in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), North America, and Asia-Pacific.
Technology’s encroachment on our daily lives and the desire to break away and reconnect to a more natural world, the community with renewed emphasis on open debate and our own body were the inspirations behind the top three North American colors.
“Our research found a cultural desire to bring nature closer to daily life and find a deeper connection to the human body for our own wellness,” said Paul Czornij, Head of Design for BASF’s Color Design Excellence Group. “Blue continues to gain strength as an automotive color position, and it has a calming effect and a strong correlation with natural things, which is why we selected Undercurrent Blue as our key color for this region.”
Undercurrent Blue: A very dark, navy blue color with a silky texture that exudes a sense of mystery and celebration of self. This color leverages simple, in-use pigmentation technology, yet offers a sophisticated color position.
The influx of technology has also impacted how society views borders and resulted in an increased desire to get off the grid when possible, which was explored further in the North American color Abyss.
Abyss: An absolute metallic black, almost devoid of color, absorbing visible hues. It’s a dark color that shows its texture only under certain angles.
In North America specifically, people were striving to deepen their connection to the community and looking for fresh approaches to listening, debate and self-expression, resulting in the trend “direct verbindung,” a German phrase that means connection or relationship. This strong inclination to get involved and make positive change inspired Cabochon, a strong color position that demonstrates society’s transformation.
Cabochon: A turquoise blue, unsaturated color, with a smooth, futuristic texture. Named after an uncut but highly polished stone, it’s intended to celebrate nature but underscore the importance of human interaction.
“Be it looking for a deeper connection to community or the more introspective connection to the human body, there is a definite trend within the human psyche where we are seeking a clear and more natural existence for ourselves,” Czornij said. “Our goal was to capture that coloristically with a broad range of hues that offer simplicity, establishing that emotional and philosophical response.”
Up-and-coming colors in EMEA are off-the-grid. A gold effect color refers to a luxury-oriented product of the Arab world, while a warm brick-like color with a super-smooth effect is an upgrade for old times. People in EMEA are looking for the periphery of a global lifestyle and customized product landscapes. They want colors outside of the regular standard automotive palette – like a yellowish green with a mat clearcoat -- to express individuality. The roads of Europe are going to be more vivid.
Applications and products with a unique Asian style are taking on high value and significance. This new self-confidence on the part of the Asian people is expressed in a white pearl as one of the iconic colors standing for the region’s unique spirit. Moreover, worldwide appreciation of the Asian culture is giving a voice to young people and to groups that have been struggling for recognition in the economic upswing in the recent past. A deep saturated red with brilliant glass flakes underlines the sophistication to which these groups are raising their voices.