Reiner Mueller-Koerber is our color styling manager for Europe, Automotive OEM Coatings. For him, color is a vivid passion that transcends just the visual and touches every aspect of our lives. In this story, he not only reveals PPG’s Color of the Year 2022 but gives us a peek behind the curtains to explain how it is chosen each year. Ready to learn the secrets?
A Personal Color Journey
Reiner joined us in 1995 as a color styling chemist, developing new colors for our clients and learning how to combine pigment technologies. In the 2000s, he became our color styling manager for Europe, working alongside the global automotive team to develop colors and color technologies for our customers.
Color is my passion. I have worked with color throughout my whole career.
The team are spearheading the development of new color technologies and work with our suppliers to ensure we stay ahead of the curve with the latest pigment innovations and effects. They even organize an annual global color show where they share their color capabilities and expertise and demonstrate how PPG sees color in the future.
As the global color styling team in Automotive OEM, we are not only driving a strong styling reputation in the industry, but an evolution into a digital styling workstream.
Reiner is proud to work among colleagues who appreciate our work and what we bring to the company. To name just a few, Reiner would like to highlight Daniela Nicolelli, Misty Yeomans, Cindy Li and Sabine Griesbeck, as well as all his automotive colleagues in Ingersheim and elsewhere.
Reiner at color marketing workshop in New York in 2018; at global color show with Daniela Nicolelli in 2016
PPG’s 2022 Color of the Year Is on the Horizon
Reiner is “happy and proud” to work with our global network of designers and color stylists to develop our annual color trend report and the industry-leading Color of the Year program.
These annual forecasting discussions help us think about color in a systematic and analytical way to keep PPG at the forefront of color innovation. It is amazing to see the global expertise emerge from this meeting.
Even though the selection process had to happen remotely this year, it resulted in a “collaborative, successful, and – most importantly – safe outcome”.
The new PPG Global Color Trend for 2022 is called HORIZON and it looks beyond the current pandemic to a more balanced world. It’s a more colorful and optimistic palette very much inspired by nature – a rich and vibrant breath of fresh air to take us into much better times. Reiner and his fellow members of the Global Color Trend Team identified the 2022 Color of the Year as ‘Olive Sprig’.
Color Is More Than Just a Full-time Job
Reiner tells us that inspiration for each Color of the Year comes from many places and much research. Textile, furniture and consumer fairs offer great opportunities for trend analysis to see how our surroundings may look in the future. Social, political and economic trends are also important as they impact products and developments across industries.
We’re currently seeing a strong interest and change in regard to sustainability and environmental concerns.
But it doesn’t stop there. In fact, according to Reiner, working in color is a 24/7 job!
Whether I’m window shopping, watching television, attending an event or visiting a museum, I’m analyzing the color, effect or material combinations so I can incorporate them into my daily work.
Moving Toward Organic Colors and Functional Color Design
As a response to these “tumultuous times”, Reiner says the current trend is moving toward warm, comforting pastel and organic colors inspired by nature, like off-white, beige, greyed-herb.
Already prevalent in shorter-lead-time industries like fashion and decor, they are now emerging in automotive. Moving at a slower pace, it takes three to four years to bring a color into the automotive world.
All products are linked and harmonious. The line between them has blurred over time, particularly through digital/technical advancements. Color trends reflect our lifestyle like a mirror.
Reiner tells us that automotive color styling has been moving away from color design toward functional color design where color is combined with functionality.
For example, even though industry standards have not yet been established for radar, our automotive team has been exploring radar-compatible colors to ensure autonomous driving specifications. They have already established a base-line measurement to help our customers stay competitive and ready.
For automotive specifically, technological advancements are driving major changes in our industry so it is important to have a good understanding of the evolution toward E-mobility and autonomous driving.
At Home with Color
As you can imagine there isn’t one all-white room in Reiner’s family home. He has even repainted his three kids’ rooms multiple times, adjusting the color to their changing preferences.
I find color fascinating as it is the most visible layer. It allows one to express oneself through it.
His favorite color tones are grays and roses. In fact, his current car is gray. But he has had blue, beige and white.
I choose PPG-styled trend colors on my car to set a statement, so I am always up-to-date and supporting our business.