Juliane Krüsemann’s job isn’t exactly run-of-the-mill: as part of the European team working for the Color Marketing Group (CMG), she spends her days unearthing color trends that are set to make an impact over the next few years. Alongside her research activities, for the past 30 years she has also been putting her “color genius” to good use with BASF’s automotive division.
Discovering colors is a non-stop business! The existing color pigment spectrum is far from being set in stone, and is enriched on a daily basis with new laboratory-synthesized shades and hues. Juliane Krüsemann is one of the specialists who work on these astounding emotion-inducing pigments every day of the week.
Paul Czornij, Design Director of the BASF’s Color Excellence Group, put it rather more poetically last September: “Colors have the ability to perfectly express our relationship with the world”. It is for that very reason that the Excellence Group relentlessly travels the world each year on a never-ending quest to study and unravel emerging trends.
“Everything inspires me! exclaims Juliane, who first discovered a passion for colors as a child. I love wandering around the shops and honing in on trends in a whole host of places: exhibitions,
museums, fashion shows, specialised firms… I spend a lot of time at furniture fairs and automotive events, too, notably to get a feel for emerging trends in industry.”
Picking up on emerging trends demands a subtle combination of know-how and intuition, as well as a good dose of pragmatism: “Trend-makers each have their own way of doing things, often related to the industrial sector in which they work. For me, that’s the automotive sector. All colors do not suit all vehicles, and consumers each express their own very personal desires. Finding the perfect compromise can be a real challenge!”
The automotive industry: a conservative sector in the throes of change
When trends change, it’s far easier to replace a tie than it is a car. That’s why consumers are fairly conservative in the automotive sector, remaining faithful to “safe” colors such as white, black and
But consumers have started to become increasingly daring over the course of the past few years, with less traditional hues beginning to win their favor. “In manufacturers’ brochures, alongside endless whites and greys, we’re now seeing stunning reds and blues, sometimes accompanied by more subtle greens and yellows, says Juliane Krüsemann with a smile. Certain shades have even become famous: Renault’s Flame Red and Mazda’s Soul Red are now references across the entire color industry!”
Stunning colors… that are functional, too!
But color isn’t the only consideration when designing coatings for the automotive industry. The pigment also needs to boast a whole host of functional properties. Thermal regulation, exceptional weather resistance, a strong tactile quality… But demands are starting to change in this area, too.
Product origin is one notable case in point: “Designers are now increasingly interested in the origin and durability of the pigments used to create colors. Natural raw materials, such as mica, are currently in huge demand.”
A trend worth tracking: the Parallax effect
In Anglo-Saxon countries, they go by the name of “color-shifting paints”. These particular paints feature in BASF’s automotive color predictions for 2020. According to the report, car manufacturers are going to increasingly favor colors that change shade when viewed from different angles. A subtle combination of industrialization, urbanization and technology that holds up a mirror to the changes society is experiencing in this ever-changing 21st century!