Where did all these colors come from?

The late fifties was really a colorful time. New advances in technology and livened sensibilities across design industry spoke with a swath of new colors for the mid century consumer that echos to this day. Gone were muted and blended colors of staid and conservative war torn times. In came a veritable rainbow, all metallics, use of contrast and funky texturing, with cool trendy names that have become emblematic of all things 50s.

To really appreciate the historic significance of these colors, you need to try an imagine a world where every day things you bought were available only in black, white, grays and browns. People were married to everything with origins in wood. Sitting down to furniture, driving a car, or living in a house that wasn't a naturally occurring material was still revolutionary. Even though Bakelite, an emulsion polymer preceding modern day plastics, was available in all colors black, brown, gray and white were still the most popular.

The other perspective is mass production manufacturing. Early 20th century production favored same parts, same processes, same colors to minimize costs and defects. The war industry brought many advances in manufacturing processes, standardization, and quality controls, which made offering color options practical and profitable.

The easiest reference of colors in vogue at the time were Ditzler paint color options. Ditzler was a Detroit based auto paint company started in 1902 that was bought be Pittsburgh Plate Glass, PPG Industries in 1928. The paint chip cards available for each manufacturer model year are the reflection of what was thought to be popular.