Colour is a critical component of any new car launch. Not only do colour and trim have a strong bearing on how a design is perceived, but colour speaks directly to our sense of time and place. Certain hues fade from fashion while others become more prominent; the art and science of colour forecasting is an industry in itself. Throw in the undeniable pull of history, and the resonance that certain colours have through their association with iconic models and sporting victories, and you have a hugely complex array of factors at play.
At launch, the Aston Martin DB11 has a total of 35 different exterior paint finishes. Add in options for the roof panel, roof strake, bonnet blades, wheels and brakes and there are literally thousands of ways a DB11 can be configured, and that’s before you’ve even considered your interior scheme. “What many of our customers want is an individualised product,” explains Marek Reichman, Aston Martin’s Chief Creative Officer, “and we provide a complete luxury service. Our customers are expecting more personalisation. But perhaps there’s a problem with becoming overwhelmed by choice.”
For some, the six specifications are a starting point. Other customers will simply take the car as it is presented. “Of course there will be those who want to specify the car on their own,” says Reichman, “but this is a design service if you like, and there’s a slightly unexpected side to some of the combinations.” Reichman himself has overseen two of the two new specifications, starting with “New Heritage”, with the body finished in an elegant shade of new Arden Green paired with a Copper Tan interior.
Reichman acknowledges that green is an emotive colour for Aston Martin: “This year, we relaunched our racing cars using Sterling Green with an accent and the DB9 was originally launched in California Sage. Green has always been an incredible colour for us.” Usually considered a very fashion-orientated colour, “New Heritage” uses a subtler hue with a grey-green hint that has strong associations to Aston Martin’s history. “By combining it with the traditional tan interior we emphasise the element of craftsmanship, a celebration of the fact we've been handmaking cars for 103 years,” says Reichman, who adds that the open pore wood on the dash is a nod to Aston Martin's long association with the material.
In stark and striking contrast, the “Shanghai Fashionista” specification is designed to catch the eye. Also overseen by Reichman, this DB11 is finished in eye-popping Frosted Glass Blue, a specially developed paint finish with embedded glass flakes that gives the surfaces a deep lustre, especially in bright sunlight, when it becomes almost silver. In more overcast weather, the vivid blue cuts through. “It’s giving people the confidence to pick a slightly unusual combination,” he says. “It also speaks to the fashion side of what we do. Our cars have longevity, but we’ve got to look at trends and be on trend.”
“Soft Tech” is a calmer, more laid-back approach, one that references our changing relationship with high technology. “It’s a combination of colour and material that shows how technology has become much less hard and cold,” explains Reichman. “Our devices are now softer and these materials and colour choices embody that.” Touches such as the Satin Champagne metalware emphasise the sophistication and technology behind the design, with a neutral palette whose subtle, warmer tones are drawn from Scandinavian product design and interiors.
While these specifications are not intended to be market-specific, Reichman expects certain countries to be more interested in some than others. “Mysterious Sport”, his own personal favourite, sees the DB11 finished in a rich, dark Ultramarine Blue, a finish so lustrous that it’s practically black, with flashes of blue highlights in the sun. Black roof panels and rails complete the exterior palette, making the car appear even more sporting as the colour gives the feel of being low to the ground. Inside, Obsidian Black leather is set off with contrasting dark blue stitching.
The “Intrepid Sport” DB11 features the car’s launch colour, Cinnabar Orange, in a combination designed to appeal to lovers of extreme sports and high technology. “It’s equivalent to a mountain climber, eager for the latest technology,” says Reichman. “It’s extrovert and high contrast. The dark exterior pack adds a black grille and side strakes, giving it quite a technical look, like modern mountaineering equipment. There’s also the new chopped carbon veneer on the door and centre console.”
Finally, there is the “Iconic Craft” specification, which pairs the popular Magnetic Silver body colour with a Sahara Tan interior featuring special “celestial quilting” and “brogued letter”, two of several leather effects developed by Aston Martin over the past few years. Open-pore wood completes the interior finishes to create a car that Reichman describes as “a bit more traditional”. Aimed at the European market, as well as the USA, “Iconic Craft” has a timeless look that accentuates the DB11’s status as the latest in a long line of DB cars.
“The Designer Specifications all use standard options, but they combine them in a way people wouldn’t necessarily think of,” says Reichman. “They’re designed to give you a starting point.” So far, Aston Martin has seen a substantial take-up for the six specifications, with over half of all pre-orders using them as a basis for their cars. The six also highlight the role that fashion and trends can play in the perception of a car. “We’ll be looking at these things more and more in the future,” says Reichman. “I think we should be doing collections, perhaps not quite with the cadence of the fashion industry, but I can certainly see us having a couple of seasons each year.” Although the DB11 is already well on its way to being a timeless design, the Designer Specifications highlight the ways in which colour and materials can transform character and emphasise form.
See the choices available at db11.astonmartin.com/home/configure