Published: March 07, 2017
Published: March 07, 2017

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Color Styling: The Shade of Things to Come

Operating with the car industry and PPG Automotive studios, the team helps produce cutting-edge colours that are both desirable and durable.

By listening to our customers and using our know-how, we create commercially available colours which later appear on the road.
Reiner Mueller-Koerber, Manager Color Styling Europe

On the Lookout for Trends

But how can the Color Styling team predict the in-demand colours of the future? According to Reiner, trend research is key.

We visit all the major trade fairs around the world to have the latest input on lifestyle and trends. As well as visiting the world’s major motor shows, the Color Styling team also attends furniture shows, home textile fairs, sports fairs and home decoration fairs across Europe.

Market research is also important. For more than 20 years, PPG has organised a worldwide annual collection of “automotive colour trend data” which provides valuable information on the popularity of different colours across the globe. This report allows the Color Styling team to track trends from continent to continent, across every sector and segment of the car industry.

The Color Styling team also communicates constantly with customers, suppliers and other business units within PPG.

We maintain strong contacts with all the major car manufacturers, in order to stay involved in all the new colour developments and upcoming paint technologies.

The team also has a close relationship with PPG’s pigment suppliers, in order to stay on top of new market developments.

Sometimes, we ask them to develop something new, where we feel there’s a need for an enhancement.

Contacts in and out

Internally, Color Styling maintains close contacts with the Research & Development laboratories in Allison Park, taking advantage of innovative new techniques such as nanotechnology in clear coats. There are also regular internal global technical styling meetings, to discuss new pigments and technologies, such as ANDARO® and SpectraPearl®.

Color Styling also takes part in PPG’s annual Global Color marketing workshop which identifies new trends. For 2017, for example, PPG is tipping Violet Verbena, a “violet nuanced with a shade of grey” as the Colour of the Year. 

One of the end products of all this work is the PPG Global Colour show at which 60 to 70 colours are presented to car manufacturers around the globe. Color Styling is currently working on its latest show, entitled “KULTURE”, which aims to predict colour trends for the year 2020.

White is not just white

Around the world, neutral colours (white, black, grey and silver) remain most popular with car buyers according to the latest research. According to Reiner, however, there’s plenty of demand for innovation even within those seemingly conservative choices.

In whites, for instance, we see the trend moving towards metallic or pearl versions. The next generation of whites will be tinted as lucid pastels.

We’re also seeing an increase in the popularity of reds, blues and yellows, but declining demand for browns. New trends include demand for matt gloss concepts, high sparkling glass flake colours and two-tone concepts.

For Reiner, one of the highlights of the year was the team’s work on Vision Next 100, a dazzlingly futuristic BMW prototype designed to mark the Bavarian carmaker’s 100th anniversary. Only time will tell whether cars of the future will really have a shimmering gold finish with red fluorescent highlights. But if they do, you can bet that the Color Styling team will have seen it coming!