When Frederick William Lanchester patented disc brakes in 1902, he didn't create them as a fashion statement. That would have to wait until about 25 years ago when Brembo, the Italian brake supplier, started to add fashion to the brand’s functional appeal by coating its brake calipers in bright red with a white Brembo logo, visible through the slender spokes of aluminum rims that have become increasingly popular.
Today, car designers have the option of using brake calipers as styling elements, either matching or contrasting with the cars' colors, and owners can frequently specify caliper color to suit their taste. They aren't production parts yet, but to have a little fun, Brembo brought to the 2019 Geneva Motor Show a display of brake calipers painted in a wide variety of colors and graphic schemes.
The press release noted that Brembo was just “playing with the latest trends in fashion, art, style, and design,” but you can be sure that it wanted to show manufacturers just what can be done to dress up what is a fairly mundane piece of mechanical equipment. Brembo made a camouflaged caliper that blends right in, a glitter-covered and bedazzled caliper, and even a caliper that will match your argyle socks. Some graphic history was on display, as well, with 1970s era geometric patterns, fluorescent colors from the 1990s, along with calipers inspired by urban graffiti, street art, and tattoos.
While I don't expect to find tatted-up brake calipers behind the rims on any OEM luxury cars any time soon, it's a safe bet that you'll find similar designs at custom car shows in the near future.