10:00 AM | April 27 2018

Colour is the new white

A new appreciation of colour is helping to redefine Scandinavian design, with white, grey and black supplemented by bold colours. It’s all about individual expression, as the new Volvo XC40 proves.

Scandinavian design, so long associated with a monochrome palette, is changing. Colour, you could say, is the new white. This is the new wave of Scandinavian colour – a trend towards the use of brighter tones and unexpected shades.
 
Multi-disciplinary Stockholm design agency Note Design Studio is, for example, using colour in a more adventurous way than ever. A look at its recent interior design work reveals a wealth of warm pinks, cool greens and sharp yellow accents. And Note’s work for the Design Bar at the 2017 Stockholm Furniture Fair features floor coverings, walls, tables and chairs in variations of deep, saturated orange and red – about as far from bleached wood and white walls as you can get.
 
In the world of cars, the Volvo XC40 is also reflecting the progressive nature of contemporary Scandinavian design, and its increasingly bold use of colour.


 
Exterior paint finishes include Fusion Red, a strong colour that enhances the car’s youthful character. There’s also Amazon Blue, a subtle yet distinctive colour inspired by the classic Volvo model of the same name. When combined with the crisp lines and sharp details of the XC40 it creates a fresh, contemporary character.
 
“Contrast was one of our big influences,” says Erik Åleby, Colour & Materials Designer at Volvo Cars.


 
And the XC40 uses this concept to great effect. R-Design models come with a roof and door mirrors in black, which contrasts with body colours such as Crystal White, Bright Silver and Bursting Blue. And Momentum models are available with a roof and door mirrors in white, to contrast with body colours such as Osmium Grey or Fusion Red.
 
“We wanted to create something new; something expressive,” says Erik. “And we took inspiration from all over – mostly from non-automotive sources such as art, architecture, fashion and modern culture.
 
“Personally, I’m really interested in what some Scandinavian furniture brands are doing with colour – the way they combine clean design with a very focused use of colour is an inspiration.”
 
The careful, considered way that colour is applied in Scandinavian design is what makes it so effective, says Erik. And one of the most striking applications of colour for the XC40 is in the cabin, where R-Design models are - as a no-cost option - available with floor carpet and door inserts in Lava – a rich, deep orange that contrasts with the black door, seat and dashboard materials for a dramatic look. “It’s a really strong, simple graphic that gives you a nice surprise when you open the door,” he says.


 
With these colour combinations, both inside and outside, the new XC40 offers a new take on the concept of colour – one that’s modern and distinctly Scandinavian.

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