Mixing exciting metallics and earthy natural tones to market to a highly diverse global customer base is a challenging job for colour designers. In search of automotive colour trends of the future, those at BASF Coatings are interpreting a whole range of signals this year, including ecology, a shift in thinking, responsibility, urbanity, sustainability and new technology.

Eva Höfli, BASF Coatings colour designer, says: “When we look at the broadcast frequency of current and future-related topics, we can see that things are being sent nonstop.” This is why the name of the 2010-2011 European trend collection is ”Rauschen” (German for “signal noise” or whoosh).

While many phenomena, such as the ‘eco craze’, have made their mark on colour trends for several years, ever smaller and more subtle tendencies are making their way in. For example, in the current BASF collection, these trends are being expressed via a larger palette of solid colours. “The latest car shows in particular have shown that there is no getting around the topic of electromobility,” said Höfli. These new vehicles utilize a changed language of form and material and thus also require a new colour palette.”

Expanding the palette to include solid colours is particularly appropriate in this case. “Colours of the masses”, such as black, silver and gray, have also been affected by the noise in the world of colours. The spectrum of tints, effects and nuances is growing from year to year. Fusions of cool, technical silver with warm pastel elements help designers achieve novel colour ranges. Höfli says, “Our 2010-2011 collection redefines what is known and still has a number of surprises in store.”

Defining current trend worlds and colour worlds
For the most part, the BASF colour designers identify four significant trends, from which they filter the respective colour codes:

New intelligence: ‘defragmented apparition’
Ecology and technology fuse to form this trend world in which warm and cold colours dominate. Environmental awareness has gained in influence. It is important not only to utilize ecological resources, but also to establish the effects their use has from an economic and social point of view. The search for new materials has given rise to intersections of technology and design, from which a trend world with high standards for design and technology has been created. In this trend world, efficiency meets individuality and performance meets personality.

Defragmentation brings out new surfaces that seem impenetrable and dense. The palette ranges from a strong gray blue to powerful red tones and vibrant yellow and green. BASF calls these ‘the colour codes of the new intelligence.’ A selection of warm and rather light colours with fine to very fine effects combined with cool silver tones and blue hues make up the main colour directions. In addition, the “new neutrals” have emerged here – cool, greyish beige and brown tones, along with the further development of white with a higher percentage of gray. Solid colours as well as exquisite effects are on equal footing in this world. Pastel colours, both with a high percentage of white as well as significantly chromatic, can be found along with finely tuned natural tones of brown and blue. These tones are the harbingers of an intelligently designed mobility of the future.

Move on now
Today, innovation is essential. When it comes to mobility, it is also imperative to focus on making intelligent use of resources and bridging distances efficiently. Small cars and electric cars will inject a new vitality into the cityscape. Thus, says Höfli, there is no room for special effects in this trend world. The colours have to work everywhere and at all times. From this, the new “bold solids” have developed, which will characterize the narrow roads of the future. Aside from the well-known, urban colour context of greys and silvers, these colours represent the high functionality of a “here-and-now” mentality that has nothing to hide. The boundaries of popular colours such as black, blue and silver are redefined through extreme effects such as clear colour travel and colourful inclusions.

Colour codes of the here-and-now
Everything is solid! The palette ranges from a strong gray-blue to powerful red tones and vibrant yellow and green. These primary colours are complemented by greyish beige and skin tones. Dense urban structures surfaces are both high gloss and matt.

Sensible crossover colours: discrete dubbing
Contrasts in this trend world set the tone; they redefine spaces, change perspectives dramatically and play with surprising effects and distorted proportions. This is all about the carefully calculated magic of dark and metallic tones. The depth of the colour, the radiance of effects and the viscosity of the liquid effect all make for particularly effective OEM paints.

Colour codes of crossover colours
The boundaries of popular colours such as black, blue and silver are redefined through extreme effects such as clear colour travel and colourful inclusions. In addition, superfine silvers with a matt clearcoat create close to haptic impressions.

Supernormal: harmonious irregularities
Along with all the changes of the era of ecology, the adventure of the future, doubts, questions and an undefined fear of the unpredictability of everything new, humans need normality. We have to define this new normality: Balanced colour depths and well-dosed effects ensure that this trend world is in a safe state. These colour codes are brown and blue tones that are not bound to tradition and nevertheless tie in with the familiar. A collection of earthen surfaces with rich colour depths, but also greyish nuances with a highlight of chromatic travel form the harmonious foundation of balanced normality.

New form for perfect presentation
'Rauschen' is the first BASF collection to be presented on plastic forms created specifically for the company, known as 'domes'. These forms which the designers developed after numerous talks with customers from the automotive industry, conveys a very realistic impression of corners, edges and curves of modern car bodies. “These modern special-effect paints only come to life if there is a certain interplay of light and shadows. We can now represent this effect much better on a small scale thanks to our new domes,” Höfli added.