As a designer, I have long believed in the value of a little black and a little white in every room. I’ve often said every room should have a bit of one or the other or both. As I’ve matured, I have come to appreciate black and white in a deeper, more meaningful way.
Black and white each represent an extreme that in design is so necessary. Black is the absence of color, the darkest effect known to man. Black will ground anything. Black demonstrates a distinction and refinement that elevates itself beyond anything that sits near. Black gives objects a perfect form. It can make the inexpensive look expensive and color shows amazingly well against a black wall. Everything pops and plays against it perfectly.
White is the ultimate purity. White is the light that comes from the blend of all color. White helps other colors shine. It rarely competes with color and is therefore critically useful in toning high levels of color saturation. White is a sophisticated compliment for most palettes and a well-known trick for those of us in the business. When on a budget, it is usually a fail-safe plan to “Paint them white.” or “Paint all of that orangey woodwork Black.” White and black elevate their surroundings often as aptly as an expensive custom finish. When used together, the impact of black and white is powerful and striking, the most concise statement in design.
I have now fallen deeply love with black and white, even in stronger, more statement-making combinations, eventually evolving to understand their great purpose and their ability to endure time and trend. I have found that I use more white, more black in my designs than ever before. I look forward to ultimately living in a home that is primarily white, black and brown (perhaps through the use of strong wood elements…like a plank floor or solid ceiling beams…) on which I can layer my colorful folk art collections. I should like to find myself living in an environment that offers a terrific palette for beloved objects, so that the environment has the cheerfulness of life-giving color, but without becoming trite, trendy or cute.
There is also the theory that black is masculine and white, feminine. I find this idea appealing, the use of equally elegant, opposing traits together in a harmonious balance. Whatever the explanation, the purity of each and the energy they exert when used in concert is undeniable.
You may not be ready to live in a pure black and white environment, but the appreciation of the concept holds a key to better design. Some utilization of the two, whatever the dose, seems unavoidable if one is a true explorer in the world of design and color.
Leah Spurrier. HighStreet