CreativityColourMunicipal orange

Municipal orange

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Reading time: 1:00min | German sense of order: The classic Kommunalorange is the German colour of cleaning.

The term municipal orange (Kommunalorange) is an invention of mine, I always thought, until I found out that it had already existed for a long time as a name for the typical orange of municipal vehicles and construction sites. Municipal orange (in Germany registered as RAL 2011 Tieforange) is an interesting case because the colour is not derived from a known object or a creative marketing invention, but was born from the purpose of warning the traffic from vehicles like rubbish collectors or street sweepers.

The assignment of municipal orange is therefore not an aesthetic one, but a practical one. Red was already used by fire brigades in the search for a signal colour for municipal vehicles in the late 60s. But over the years, municipal orange as the second choice became a separate entity with visible significance for the streetscape.

There wouldn’t be left much to say had municipal orange not undergone a colour change over the decades. Classic municipal orange is slightly subdued and is placed precisely between yellow and red. Modern municipal orange, however, is tilted towards cinnabar and appears much more saturated and brighter. This difference has something to do with the pigments available in the 1970s, and with the fact that orange, like red, as a paint back then, was prone to bleaching out in the sun, even to the point of visible chalking.

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