Honda Colors!

What is a car color designer? What do they do?Yasuko Saito
Automobile R&D Center, Honda R&D Co., Ltd.Joined Honda in 2005. First worked as a color designer in 2009 on the ACTY truck, before moving on to the N BOX and N series.

What type of car is the N-ONE?

The colors express the basic concept of the vehicle

At the start of the project, the color designer looks through many different colors to get a feel for the requirements of the job

Color design involves more than just choosing using your favorite colors. The colors should be an expression of the basic concept behind the vehicle. The color designer must internalize this concept before starting to think about color selections.

The N-ONE was based on the ideal of a car that inspires affection, a car that you would never want to part with, and this was translated into the concept of a “timeless design.”

So how does the color designer give expression to this concept? The first step was to collect photographs and pictures with colors of interest, alongside color swatches and samples. Then I pored over these and other materials at length in order to get an idea of the colors that might be suitable.

My aim was to identify timeless colors that men and women of all ages would find appealing and attractive. This was the starting point for the N-ONE color design.

Colors that inspire love at first sight

The body color is the first thing you notice when you see a car in the street. One of our aims with the N-ONE was to find stunning and attractive body colors that would turn heads in the street—colors to make you love the car at first sight. We also had to ensure that the colors were timeless, that would inspire an ongoing affection lasting many years. In order to identify appealing and attractive colors, I spent a great deal of time people-watching around town and ducking into interesting-looking shops. Inspiration for a color can sometimes come from the littlest things in everyday life, a moment or a sight that stays in the imagination.

We came up with a color called Innocent Blue Metallic. It’s got a sense of nostalgia about it, but at the same time it’s a fresh and vivid shade of blue that gives a lift to the driver and passengers as well as those who see the car in the street.

The color designer prepares a number of color samples painted on metal strips, and takes them out in a wide variety of locations to see how they look.

Combining colors into a color palette

The N-ONE range is like an artist’s palette brimming with color and variety

I find I’m constantly looking at the colors around me, wherever I am, whatever I’m doing. At home I like to paint my nail tips in lots of different colors, so I’m always surrounded by a sea of color!

The N-ONE is available in 11 different body colors. But the aim was not simply to have as many colors as possible. The color designer must consider the overall balance when putting together a color palette.

For example, Honda has used a range of different shades of the distinctive red color over the years. So the question was: which shade of red would be best for the N-ONE? My feeling was that the vibrant, energetic Milano Red was most in tune with the base concept of the N-ONE.

The next step was to assemble a color palette with an even balance of mature colors, cute colors, basic colors and others. Making up a color palette is great fun and I would recommend it to anyone.

Interior colors and textures are part of the color design process

The interior colors are naturally an important part of my job, as well as the look and feel of the fabrics. One of the distinctive characteristics of the N-ONE interior is the burgundy used on the premium grade. It provides a subtle and subdued feel, similar to the wine red leather popular with discerning consumers.

The feel of the seats and other parts of the car that the driver and passengers come into direct contact with is also very important. At Honda there is a strong emphasis on physical attributes, of how the finished product will look and feel. The development process involves making a mockup, investigating it, touching it, thinking about modifications and improvements, and repeating the cycle again and again until you are satisfied. A car is something you keep for a long time, so in the design process you need to be aware of how things look and feel, and you need to create pleasing and comfortable spaces for people.

One of the N-ONE design concepts was “defies categorization,” in the sense that it is much more than a small car. A burgundy interior was chosen to convey this message.

Enhancing the character of the car

The interchangeable front grill—a genuine Honda accessory—allows every customers to individually personalize the N-ONE to their taste

The job of color designer is to enhance the car’s sense of character through the use of color and other components.

The N-ONE sports an attractive face and full rounded body lines, and this works with a range of colors. The N-ONE also features an extensive range of style options not normally available on Honda vehicles, including several two-tone body color combinations and a variety of customizable front grill patterns. Honda customers can have fun mixing and matching colors and patterns—like adding a new hat to a well-worn combination of clothes to inject a bit of individual style.

Mass production is constrained by a number of factors including paints, materials and assembly processes. But the challenge is to experiment within these boundaries with new ideas and concepts that will appeal to consumers. This is where the color designer has an important role to play.

Color has the power to excite

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