Iridescent - The Finish Back In Trend

The design world is having an iridescent moment. Last year, Tom Dixon released a collection—called Iridescence—of warped, lustrous wares inspired by the rainbow sheen of an oil spill. The prismatic visual effect of light, color, and reflection has also made its way into the fashion and furnishing worlds. Designers have embraced the color-changing brilliance of iridescence shimmying down the runway. Holographic accessories are gracing store shelves. As far back as 2009, graphic designer Peter Saville and debuted a gradient-sheen staircase for Kvadrat’s London showroom. As the executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, Leatrice Eiseman has been watching the trend since its conception. “I would say we started to tune into this 10 to 11 years ago,” she tells Co.Design. Eiseman traces the popularity of translucent designs rendered in glass and plastics back to Philippe Starck’s famed Louis Ghost Chair, designed for Kartell in 2002 as a modern update to the Louis XVI chair. Originally produced in clear acrylic, the chair has since become available in various colors, and other designers been influenced by the concept. “Over the years [the style] has gotten more and more sophisticated and more beautiful,” Eiseman says of iridescence. It’s also gotten more ubiquitous. Experimentation over the past decade by artists and designers have made the materials, glazes, films, and finishes that produce these effects far more refined and accessible. Meanwhile, recent events have made the aesthetic an apt reflection of a cultural moment that has whipsawed between sunny optimism and despair. As the story behind the iridescence trend shows, it’s all a matter of perception. But if humans have always been intrigued by iridescence, why the popularity now? 

Anodizing titanium generates an array of different colors without dyes, for which it is sometimes used in art, home décor products or others. The color formed is dependent on the thickness of the oxide (which is determined by the anodizing voltage); it is caused by the interference of light reflecting off the oxide surface with light traveling through it and reflecting off the underlying metal surface.

In 2013, the industry had noticed an increased demand for iridescent coating, so they developed a dichroic adhesive that can be applied with heat and easily removed. It feels a bit like cellophane wrap, and has the same visual effect as the finish, but at a fraction of the cost.

Note: Products may vary from each the basic shade or the gradient will remain same but exact same shade can’t be achieved.