The new blue: fresh colour strategies
By Sarah Housley

Blue is in the design spotlight as new pigments and products explore its meaning and create new associations for the colour. WGSN’s Sarah Housley reports

Aug 09, 2016

4 photos

When a new ingredient or pigment comes along, it can change the product development process entirely, opening up exciting possibilities for colour, material, finish or flavour (if you’re designing food or drink). It isn’t often that this happens, so it’s a huge deal when a new hue is invented or discovered – just look at the buzz around Vantablack, the blacker-than-black material to which Anish Kapoor has since obtained the exclusive art rights. But recently, it’s happened again – and all the focus this time is on blue.

From design to food and drink, take a look at three new products that are shaking up the possibilities of just what you can do with blue.

The new pigment: YInMn Blue

YInMn Blue, a bold inorganic pigment that doesn’t fade, was accidentally discovered by a team at Oregon State University in 2009. Named after its key elements (Yttrium, Indium and Manganese), the pigment is the first new blue in 200 years, and recently became available commercially, licensed by the Shepherd Colour Company.

YInMn Blue

Potential uses include art restoration, energy-efficient paint and commercial coatings for cars and aircrafts. The pigment can also be ‘tuned’ to a wider range of blues, including sky blue and a deep blue-black.

The new drink: Gik Blue Wine

New Spanish company Gik has launched a bright blue wine, which is made with a blend of red and white grapes, then coloured with indigo and anthocyanin (a pigment that comes from grape skin) to give it its vivid hue. Priced at €10 a bottle, the 11.5% ABV wine is aimed at millennial consumers; recommended pairings include sushi, nachos and pasta carbonara, as well as music by James Blake and Alt J.


Gik is shaking up not only the expected colour of wine, but also the tasting ritual. Rather than providing technical tasting notes, the wine’s creators have made an “anti-technical” sheet. “We do not believe in wine tasting rules and we don’t think that anybody should need to study the bible of enology to enjoy a glass of wine,” they explain. The meaning of the colour, meanwhile, comes from Blue Ocean Strategy, a book that advocates creative freedom.

The new healthy: Smurf Latte

Meet the ‘Smurf latte’ – a blue, coffee-free drink made by Melbourne’s Matcha Mylkbar. The active ingredient here is E3Live algae, which gives the latte its blue-green shade and imparts a taste that’s been compared to seaweed. The algae is combined with lemon, ginger agave and coconut milk to make the super-drink, which costs $8.

Matcha Mylkbar

Following the Smurf latte’s mega success on Instagram, the cafe is now planning to roll out a range of blue food and drink. Could this help turn blue – usually associated with heavily processed food and drink – into a colour that we associate first and foremost with healthy living?

Like this? WGSN subscribers can check out Chroma – The Power of Colour for more innovations in this field. Sound good? Join WGSN.

  • Maggi Mercado

    It’s a gorgeous color similar to the pigment Vermeer used.

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