Jack Brown is Design Manager of Colour, Materials and Finish (CMF) at Aston Martin’s Gaydon Design Studio. A relative newcomer to the company, he brings with him many years of experience at another well-established British sports car manufacturer. Brown studied automotive design at Coventry University. “The course gives you a breadth of experience of everything that goes into car design, but the one thing that wasn’t really taught was colour and materials design. I decided to look at how important it was and see how it can have an important impact on products."

Studio Interview with Jack Brown

Brown points out that, while CMF was long considered something of an afterthought, its significance has been recognised. “CMF can be an important differentiator, so it’s now considered right at the start of a project.” One of his responsibilities is the creation of new exterior colours. “Aston Martin offers one of the most diverse ranges of exterior paint colours in the industry,” says Brown. “We’re proud to be market leaders and we work very closely with our partners and suppliers to bring to life the most advanced technologies in paint.”

Studio Interview with Jack Brown

Bringing any new colour into production takes a surprising amount of time. “It can take years to develop a specific paint,” says Brown. Starting with a colour area in mind, the team works with concept painters to create many different samples, exploring how different pigments might affect the colour or refract the light in different ways, and how it appears on much larger panels. “When a colour is used across a large volume, it can be perceived very differently to how it is on a small sample,” the designer says. Once approved, the colour is transformed from a hand-mixed hue and productionised. Although special paints are still hand-applied at Gaydon, the new fully robotised three-storey paint shop at St Athan is now the company’s primary centre. 

 

Modern paints are tested exhaustively for durability, with scratch abrasion testing, corrosion testing, and careful measuring of opacity levels to ensure a consistent finish across the bodywork. Although customers rightly expect their Aston Martin to remain pristine, interior materials are undergoing something of a change, with a focus on open-pore woods, non-leather finishes and different metals. “There’s definitely been a shift in the industry concerning how materials age,” says Brown. “We’ve always been honest about materials and celebrate them for their inherent qualities. Part of that is driven by sustainability.” The latter is also central to creating new body colours; paint must conform to exacting environmental regulations. 

Studio Interview with Jack Brown

Colour shapes our perception. When a new Aston Martin is launched, the design team will present up to five new colours, developed alongside the interior and exterior teams to present the car in the very best light. “We have a vision and a colour palette for each vehicle, and it has to have very cohesive image,” says Brown. The Aston Martin DBX707 is a case in point. The high-performance variant of the SUV debuted with a new colour, Plasma Blue. “The colour was designed to give extraordinary visual depth with a deep liquid look,” says Brown. “It’s a lustrous mid blue that communicates surface movement with a fine metallic shimmer and subtle red side tone. It’s unlike any previous Aston Martin shade, because in direct sunlight the colour tone is exaggerated, which gives it a stunning radiancy.” In darker environments, Plasma Blue retains a sophisticated visual lustre, emphasising the bold design of the DBX707 with its new carbon fibre aerodynamic elements. “A huge amount of work goes into paint, and customers aren’t necessarily aware of how much thought is involved and the processes we go through,” Brown concludes. As with all facets of Aston Martin design, colour and materials are an essential component of every car.

This story is an extract from an article featured in the AMXX issue of Aston Martin magazine, out now. If you're not already a subscriber, visit magazine.astonmartin.com/magazine-subscription so that you can read the full story. 

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