Behind the Colors and Materials

Trends that inspire the look of FCA vehicles

"Centro Stile Alfa Romeo" Logo

February 1, 2019 - The FCA Design Center at Mirafiori’s Officine 83 is home to the Color & Materials unit where ideas that give personality to FCA vehicles take shape. Rossella Guasco, head of the unit, together with her 18-person team of architects and designers, are responsible for defining the look — in terms of color, materials, and interior and exterior finish — of all vehicles sold by the Group in the EMEA region. Their activity involves extensive research into the latest trends from the worlds of fashion, technology, design, art, industry, and sport for application in the automotive world.

People in this profession are a mix of trendsetter, globetrotter, and creative designer capable of taking inspiration from everything around them and adapting these ideas to the needs of a manufacturer. In fact, not everything that is trendy or fashionable can be applied to a mass-produced vehicle.

We asked Rossella Guasco to share some of her experience with us.

Multicolor spools of thread

“The ability to experiment and innovate needs to be melded with the other design needs of a vehicle, such as safety, comfort, performance and sustainability, as well as the specific requests that come from sales and marketing,” Guasco explains. “Our team deals with the more sensory and emotional aspect of a car. We use color and materials to decorate the interior and exterior and give the vehicle character and personality.”

Where do ideas come from?

“Inspiration can come from a fashion show or a trip to the flea market,” Guasco says. “Ideas come from all sorts of situations. What is important is how we interpret these ideas in a vehicle’s design.”

“Over the last twenty years, for example, materials have changed a great deal and have become key features in design. Here at the FCA Design Center, we have worked on this concept a lot and have proposed some real revolutions. Take, for example, the 500 family and the wide variety of versions it comes in. The interiors are designed and built around various target customer types. The different versions share certain basic concepts, such as the shape and texture of the materials and the selection of a contemporary design.”

If you look at the latest Fiat 500, the 500 Collezione, which was developed here at the Design Center, you can immediately see how this car interprets the latest trends in men’s fashion. It is a fashion-forward car inspired by the nuances of the seasons and built around unique combinations of color and materials, such as the “Brunello” two-tone color scheme, the fresh interiors featuring pin-striped fabric, and the copper-colored alloy rims. “For this special version, we pushed the envelope a bit more,” says Rossella Guasco, “because we took inspiration from elements of men’s fashion, such as pinstriped suits and the gray and burgundy colors that are so appealing to women.”

In terms of materials, what trends can we expect to see in cars in the future?

Purple Fiat 500

“Of course, one very strong trend is hybridization,” she says, “which means the ability to combine natural and artificial materials. Another area we are experimenting with is the concept of removing layers to get down to the essence, the bare structure, making simple materials like plastic more noble. For high-end brands like Maserati, then, we draw inspiration from the worlds of high fashion and fine craftsmanship. For example, we have been exploring certain processes for working the leather and wood that we use to bring out the premium quality of these cars. The interiors of the Tridente provide a rich sensory experience. We’ve been focusing on new graphic design details for the seats, wood-effect materials, and fabrics made with aluminum fibers and thread to give the interiors just the right combination of sportiness and modern comfort and sophistication.”

And what can we expect in terms of color?

“Following matte colors and tri-coating, where FCA has been a trendsetter, today, the trend is to work with transparent colors, to get deeper, more intense effects, and with tinted liquid metals to create more limpid, exotic nuances. Colors convey emotions and choices are always emotional. Customers have become extremely demanding and this is why we focus extensively on color and impact: to surprise and delight our customers. This is true luxury,” says Guasco.

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