2011 Frankfurt – Exterior and Interior Design Trends

If you just finished reading the Frankfurt Auto Show Wheel Trends report, you are probably not going to be surprised when reading my opinions about Exteriors, because the themes seem to be the repeating.  New finishes, new shapes and attention to detail seem to be standard operating procedure.  What is interesting is that the exteriors seem to be trailing the wheels by about a year with some of the details I found.

Gloss Black is being used in many new areas as an accent.  I am not sure exactly where or when it started, but I found one vehicle where the gloss black accent part was situated right next to a windscreen and it suddenly dawned on me that its not a totally new finish.  Is it possible that the byproduct of blacking out glass is a desire to have other parts match that finish?

Opel Meriva

So just like Los Angeles last year, pretty much everywhere I looked I was I was met with some sort of exterior accent in High Gloss Black.  Call it Piano Black or Obsidian or any other name you can imagine, the finish is the same.  I found it on vehicles as diverse as Mercedes and Opel, Kia and Renault, Range Rover and … well you get the idea.  Typically used in grilles

Renault Twingo

Mercedes B-Class

So, one other thing I noticed in Frankfurt was how many vehicles were on display in white.  Can somebody tell me what that is all about?  Did this start with Audi’s booth at the Auto Shows in 2009 where all their cars were white?  Is it me or are they at the front of a lot of design trends?  Do they predict them or cause them?  Doesn’t really matter because there were a ton so the only question is “Trend” or “Fad”?

The Mercedes Stage

As long as we are talking about paint finishes, satin paints were almost completely absent from the floor, just like on wheels Aside from the 3 or 4 tuner cars on display (which were not necessarily tasteful), only one manufacturer showed a car in a satin paint.

Renault Laguna

It wasn’t just finishes that seem to be changing, I also think there is a trend towards sharper and sharper creases on bodywork.  Maybe this is a result of the European Pedestrian Impact requirements which have raised front ends and rounded off surfaces.  I see government dictation of style a bit like a balloon, squeeze it here and it expands there.  In other words crush a designer’s creativity here and it springs back up elsewhere.

Infiniti Etherea Concept

BMW i8

Chevrolet Miray

We have covered finishes, and we’ve covered shapes so I guess that leaves the details.  Just like on wheels, there is more and more attention being placed on the littlest details, and no place is that more apparent than in lighting.  First, headlamps were made with clear lenses and designers started playing around with the way the inside of the light looked.  Then somebody figured out that at night the way a light looks could be modified and all hell broke loose as certain lighting appearances could help you identify the brand (did Audi start this too?).  So I took a few pictures of lights that were illuminated so you could see what I am talking about.

Mercedes C-Class

Volkswagen Beetle

BMW 5-Series GT

Hyundai i40

And just so the Interior Color and Material Designers don’t feel left out I’d like to throw in a few interior shots to identify some trends I found there as well.  First off was the amount of brown and more earthy tones found in many interiors.  Which is totally great by me because I was getting a little tired of all the blacks and greys.

Opel Zafira Tourer

Mercedes M-Class

But it wasn’t just browns that are showing up.  A ton of electric and concept cars had blues as an accent.  And although it isn’t new, BMW has an accent piece in the 1-Series that is available in multiple different colors.

BMW 1-Series

BMW 1-Series

Renault Zoe

Come back again tomorrow as we review some of the design trends for alternative-fueled and electric vehicles.  Yes, believe it or not, manufacturers are struggling with how consumers are supposed to identify these special cars.  I guess its hard to charge thousands extra for something no one can tell isn’t the same as the run-of-the-mill car down the street.

About Frank Schwartz

Frank Schwartz is the founder of CarFriend.me and Advanced Automotive Consulting Services, partner in The Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment and serial entrepeneur. A long time automotive enthusiast, Frank started reading car magazines at the age of 8 and has spent 30+ years working inside the automotive industry. In his spare time Frank races with the Sports Car Club of America, spends time working on his numerous project cars and supports many local charities.
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One Response to 2011 Frankfurt – Exterior and Interior Design Trends

  1. Pingback: Frankfurt 2011 – Exterior and Interior Design Trends | thesupplierblog

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