BASF Color of the Year, a Smoky Blue, Makes its Debut at SEMA

Can a color represent a feeling?

Paul Czornij, head of design for BASF's Color Excellence Group, believes that the color blue exudes honesty, reliability and self-expression. For those reasons, he feels that blue will continue to be a prominent color influencing the future of automotive design.

At this year's Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show, BASF unveiled a sophisticated blue called Reflexion Nebula as its "Color of the Year," a single, influential color that reflects the culmination of BASF's comprehensive color trend research. Attendees saw firsthand how Reflexion Nebula transitions from blue into a smoky charcoal depending on their vantage point. The color is also embedded with special effect pigments that utilize a futuristic technique that combines new ways to enhance coloration and sparkle.

BASF Color of the Year_Automotive Coatings

Every year, Paul and a team of expert designers at BASF predict 65 up and coming colors that will influence vehicle models three to five years down the line. They look to societal and technological triggers and search the far corners of the globe for inspiration. The whole process takes about 18 months of extensive research, travel, experimentation and application.

"Parallax is a concept that refers to the way objects appear shifted and changed when viewed from different angles," says Czornij. "The idea of continuous change in our society and the importance of finding new perspectives inspired our designers this year and that came through in the Color of the Year with the transitioning color appearance on the vehicle."

Color Trend Research

This is the first year BASF announced its Color of the Year. SEMA, the premier automotive specialty products trade event in the world, represented the perfect backdrop to showcase the company's color trend research to the refinish market.

Historically, BASF's trend research has been presented predominately to OEM customers. However, this color research is about the individual perception of color and how that will influence their automotive preferences, impacting both automakers and the refinish market.

To determine the right color as "Color of the Year," BASF designers went back to the drawing board, leveraging the results of the comprehensive Automotive Color Trends 2016/17 report and the feedback they've received from the multiple sources following their annual automotive color trends show in May. They ultimately landed on Reflexion Nebula, which is displayed on a vehicle in the BASF booth at SEMA.

BASF Color of the Year_Automotive Coatings_Blue_Phantasy Kolors

This announcement not only offered BASF the opportunity to showcase its efforts directly to the refinish market, but it also demonstrates one of the company's key competencies: its technical coating acumen.

"One thing that differentiates us is our substantial technical expertise," says Czornij. "We take great pride in predicting the influential colors of the future, but more importantly, each of the 65 color concepts we identify becomes the inspiration for a high-performance coating incorporating innovative technology."

The Vehicle behind the Color of the Year

Once the color was created, BASF set out to find a vehicle to be sprayed with Reflexion Nebula.

Brian Martin, owner of the custom body shop Phantasy Kolors in Snohomish, Washington, has been involved in custom paint and body work for more than 16 years. While he was restoring a custom 2009 Nissan Skyline GT-R for its SEMA debut, BASF approached him and shared the "Color of the Year."

"We were pleased to be invited to partner with BASF for their Color of the Year announcement," says Martin. "The color conveys the enthusiasm and movement at SEMA and we felt this color would help capture the audience's attention and draw them into our vehicle."

For a behind-the-scenes look at the "Color of the Year" being applied to the Nissan GT-R, check out this video below:

"It's been great working with Brian and Phantasy Kolors to bring the Color of the Year to life," says Czornij. "The best way to show off a beautiful color is on a beautiful car."