In visual perception a color is almost never seen as it really is — as it physically is. This fact makes color the most relative medium in art. —Josef Albers, Interaction of Color
This is my favorite quote from the most intriguing textbook during my year at the College for Creative Studies. As an administrator of the Brown Car Appreciation Society, I’ve embraced this quote at every poorly chosen “brown” car that’s too close to yellow, red, gray, and green for most eyeballs.
So, when an Australian market research firm’s anti-smoking initiative found Pantone 448 C — a “drab dark brown” called Opaque Couché — the most off-putting color to cigarette smokers, it was no surprise the news eventually trickled down to my corner of the Interweb.
With public relations in full swing, the group headed by market-research agency GfK Bluemoon now hypes Pantone 448 C as the world’s ugliest color, which ‘‘was commonly described as ‘death’, ‘dirty’ or ‘tar’ without any positive adjectives,” said Victoria Parr, a researcher for the company.
I have my doubts about the Aussie’s drab, dark brown packaging’s ability to dissuade people already addicted to nicotine. Younger smokers will naturally gravitate to the cornucopia of colors available in the vape world. Like, awesome.
The anti-smoking olive-green is great for camo, but it doesn’t take a marketing genius to note its limited automotive appeal. It’s far different from the rich, deep, dark browns that are finally, thankfully, mercifully coming back to cars. King Ranch trucks (and its copy cats), top dollar Cocoa interior’d Porsches, and even a music-themed Roller show just how badass it is to be Back in Brown.
And while I was rightly mocked for trying (and failing) to render a vehicle in brown during my time at CCS, there’s no doubt that brown is anything but ugly. All those new cars launched in delicious shades of my favorite color? They prove I was on to something back in my years as a design student.