Need for Transparency in Today's Digital World Influences BASF's Automotive Color Trend Predictions

In a digital world where data is consumed through screens and technology replaces human interaction, a stronger call is being made for more simplicity, transparency and clarity.

The BASF Color Design Excellence Group gleaned this insight during its extensive research of the current cultural landscape, which inspired its 2017-18 Automotive Color Trends collection theme - Translucid.

Each year, the designers from BASF conduct global research, uncovering overarching trends and regional differences that impact society today and determine how those sentiments will influence customers' vehicle color preferences down the road. Mixing artistry and chemistry, these designers then translate the findings into 65 concept colors, which are inspirational starting points for vehicle manufacturers and expected to be prominent color choices in three to five years.

"In North America, technology is encroaching on our daily lives as it is everywhere, but the theme of Translucid was reflected in our region through a desire to reconnect with nature, get off the grid and create positive change in the community," said Paul Czornij, head of design for BASF Color Design Excellence Group in North America.

Reconnect with Nature

Technology has become an integral part of daily life - its transformed industries, created efficiencies, overhauled the way we communicate. Yet, this constant attachment to smart technology can be draining physically, mentally and emotionally. As a result, individuals are taking steps to reconnect with a more natural world to benefit their overall health and well-being.

This trend driver led BASF to select Undercurrent Blue as the key North American color - the color most likely to be influential in this market for 2021 model year vehicles, based on its findings.

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.

Get off the Grid

BASF also explored how technology has challenged traditional rules of society and our overall understanding of borders. This is reflected in an increased desire to get off the grid and alleviate complexity, which influenced the creation of another 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. 

"Knowing car buyers regularly choose black, white and silver car paint, BASF strives to regularly innovate within those color positions, highlighting nuances that are reflective of the current contextual landscape," Czornij said. "Abyss is a great example. We wanted to push the boundaries of a typical black color. Abyss reflects a point zero, a starting point, a black with no other color. However, there is also richness to this color depicted through the metallic texture which presents itself only at certain viewing angles."

Community Camaraderie 

In North America, specifically, Czornij and team found that people were striving to deepen their connection to the community, do more at the local level and create positive change. There was also a sense of renewed emphasis on open debate, looking for fresh approaches to listening and self-expression.

The trend, Direct Verbindung, a German phrase that means connection or relationship, was selected to reflect this regional expression of the overarching Translucid theme. This increased inclination to get involved and make change inspired Cabochon, a color 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.

"We wanted to reflect the intrinsic need for connection, the desire to get involved and the open, honest dialogues we witnessed around the country in a strong color position. The turquoise color evokes a welcoming emotion with the underlying satisfaction of connection," Czornij said.

Once the colors have been selected, BASF works closely with the OEM design team to finesse the color based on brand, automotive body and style to create the colors for future vehicles.

"Be it looking for a deeper connection to the community or the more introspective connection to the human body, there is a definite trend within the human psyche 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."

Click here to learn more about BASF's global color predictions from its Automotive Color Trends collection.