The coatings division and the leather marketing unit of BASF have chosen ‘In the Move’ as the motto for their first joint colour show organised for some 100 stylists, engineers and marketing and purchasing staff of a major car manufacturer.

BASF presented the latest design trends for OEM coatings and leather, giving participants the opportunity to be inspired by BASF’s design ideas for vehicle interiors and exteriors.

‘Our intention is to enable stylists to perfectly tune the colour of the vehicle’s interior leather decor to the exterior finish or to achieve effective colour contrasts’, says Renate Weber, BASF Coatings’ colour stylist.

When it comes to new colour trends for OEM coatings, they are not the same everywhere in the world. And so Renate Weber specialises in taking the pulse of the European market, while her US colleague Jon Hall keeps tabs on American predilections and the Japanese Eiji Fujimori focuses on Asian expectations. They get together regularly to define a global approach.

Staged individually for major customers in the automobile industry, the international colour shows give the BASF stylists the opportunity to interpret society’s mega trends in car colours for the product range of the addressed customer. They are challenged to think at least five years ahead because it takes that long to reach cars coming off the assembly line.

In Europe ‘the new concept for the 21st century could be described best by ‘sustainability’ – a counter movement to extravagance and to our throwaway society’, says Renate Weber. ‘This does not only include environmental protection and the improvement of the entire coating process, which is what we call eco-efficiency, but also the addition of new, playful and visionary components to the product design.’

Renate Weber explains: ‘The finish could store solar energy and conduct the stored heat to the vehicle’s interior when it is cold outside, for example, or it could reflect light and thus increase safety because the car can be seen much better by others in the dark.’ According to Weber, European customers still prefer silver and blue, the so-called elite colours, which have a technically extravagant, individual and slightly cooler appearance than in the nineties.

Other colour trends in Europe give preference to green in all possible shades, to warm and bright yellow colours, to a strong and intensive red, to a new range of very dark and extravagant reds and also to black and grey colours with a mysterious and distant appearance. Fresh and cool tropical colours with the intense and glaring brightness of exotic blossoms will arouse great interest in the future.

In North America: ‘We want to benefit from all physical properties light provides to develop new colour effects for OEM coatings’, states Jon Hall referring among others to ‘Constellation’, a new paint that makes colour visible in the dark.

‘We also work on launching new colours based on the iridescent Variocrom pigments. Taking ‘mother nature’ as a model, we try to develop a new look with extremely fine colour changes simulating the effects provided in nature by plants, animals or minerals.’

According to Hall, the North American trend toward metallic finishes also includes colours other than silver. ‘Silver must be enriched by other shades or effects. Colour accents provided by turquoise, green and red hues combined with other colour or light effects are underway.

Copper and gold metallic colours still generate interest with new pigment effects being introduced each year’, observes Hall. Rich colours reminiscent of juices and concentrates which provide a contrast to the predominant silver look are re-entering the stage in North America.

‘Variations of turquoise, inky blue, wine-red, pure green and other transparent and rich colours are coming up again, too. This is the new compromise between very bright and very dark hues’, explains the BASF stylist.

And in Japan: ‘The Japanese colour forecasts concentrate on contrast and combination’, explains Eiji Fujimori. ‘A good combination of elements contrasting each other may result in innovative new designs.

‘By finding new colour effects for these newly created designs, this concentration on contrast and combination could also be expressed by combinations of surface coatings, metals and new materials as well as in other areas’, says Fujimori.

The Japanese colour trend still favours black and white, also combined with slightly iridescent colour effects, as well as deep colours, creamy bright yellows, radiant turquoises and blues ranging from bright to dark.

Traditionally, leather is mainly used for automotive upholstery but also for door mouldings, consoles, rear parcel shelves, instrument panels or for the headlining. To ensure long-lasting quality, the car manufacturers have compiled a catalogue stating authenticity requirements the leather used in the automotive industry must comply with.

This means, for instance, that the properties of the leather used in the car must remain unchanged when the temperature drops to minus 20°C during winter time or climbs to 50 or 60°C during summer time.

While car seats are currently manufactured almost exclusively from cattle hides, BASF offer alternatives such as deerskin or ostrich leather. Door mouldings, dash boards, steering wheels or rear parcel shelves can be designed with extravagant leather types such as salmon, ostrich or water buffalo, for example. Leather in the car stands for luxury and exclusiveness but also provides a lot of benefits regarding functional properties. The new leather types presented during the colour show are highly water vapour permeable and increase the seating comfort tremendously.