10 Mar

Black & White

By Justine Fox:


For my first foray into the world of blogging I thought that it might be wise to start at the beginning. By that I mean back when we began to use colour description in language. I was listening recently to a colour pod cast by Radio Lab ( and they were speaking about William Gladstone's belief that Homer was colour blind because he rarely referenced any other colours bar black, white and a splash of red in both The Iliad and The Odyssey and the colour blue not once. Although Gladstone was ridiculed at the time for his theories, it didn't stop one Lazarus Geiger taking a look through other ancient texts including the original Hebrew version of the bible to find the same thing. The explanation for this is thought to sit not with the ability to see colour, but rather that until we find a word to describe that particular colour; our brains skim over it. It is believed that colour enters language in the same order. Black, white (light and dark), red, yellow, green and finally blue in relation to what we see in the natural world and what colours we may efficiently replicate. And so I return to my original point to begin at the beginning. Black and White.


(photo above: Clemens Behr, New Delhi; below: Karen Shiker Sock Rug)



Keren-Shiker-Carpet-1-SockBlack and white appears to be two sides of the same coin. They are incredibly powerful, uncompromising and unforgiving. It's because of this 'don't touch' approach that they're used so widely in luxury technology. If you think about smart phones like I-phone, HTC or Samsung, these were first issued in black for the early adopters and then moved across to white before taking on the friendlier pop colours that would bring the rest of the population into the fold. The same has traditionally applied to the automotive industries whose R&D spends millions researching the best performance pigments and effects in black and white. As colours, they seem to add gravitas to a product.


Fashion's finest have been presenting their Autumn/Winter 2013 collections over the past few weeks in the US and Europe. Collections from the big hitters such as Tom Ford, Roberto Cavalli, Pucci, Anne Demeulemeester and Peter Pilotto sent models out in stark black and white. Obviously we know that black itself accounts for the largest proportion of high street sales, but why are we seeing this sharp contrast? Black and white raise barriers and present a uniform front to the world, Perhaps by manipulating the human form in these geometrics with clever pattern cutting, the designers are subconsciously helping create a protective armour for their clients as they battle against economic crisis? Perhaps not.


       CIC Image Maya Selway DAZZLE collection Macaw birdHAWK6PAIR 2

(Photo left: Maya Selway; right: LladrĂ³ Atelier's Dazzle, Rockman & Rockman on The Darkroom London)


Being the most basic of colours, all inclusive or exclusive depending on the medium you're working in, black and white showcase form to its best. There is no distraction from colour. No excuse that 'I just don't like green' or a prejudice for pink or love for blue to sway the viewer. It also means that black and white are perfectly balanced together to create the most wonderful optical illusions and effects. The fine unfinished line of Maya Selway's objects shadowed against a white background is completed by your mind's eye because of the black contrast. Clemens Behr's New Delhi project rips up and redefines shape through the use of monochromatic striping. This visual confusion continues in LladrĂ³ Atelier's camouflaged Dazzle collection where they aim to add extra energy and sensory experience with this technique. Rockman & Rockman's tessellated tables from London's Darkroom create a toothy elegance with the application of black and white triangles that melts away in the finely tapered black legs. Black and white can even take a bit of Chaplinesque humour as we see in Keren Shiker's sock rug.


So, black and white. People who know me well will know that I'm a fan of neither and often wonder at the world's colourful people doggedly dressed in black. Individually they are standoffish and expansive, but together, black and white are the perfect powerhouse, gracefully balanced and demanding respect. If you need a visual, just think Chanel.



Share on Myspace

Submit your work banner

About Us

Color Objects Team


ColorObjects He he, Gaan musea eindelijk begrijpen wanneer Amsterdammers tijd hebben voor cultuur?
ColorObjects RT @droogamsterdam: Yes! We are the winner of the Amsterdam Business Award 2014! #aba2014
ColorObjects Visualise the emotion you want to capture - make a collage! Manja Buitink teaches.
Monthly newsletter

Color Objects encourages you to get a better eye and appreciation for colors and characters. To get a special selection of pics and info for you, we find designers and artists that make colorful work from all over the world. There's a lot of character in colors, and having a closer look will change your view of the world and people around you. So we share a host of pics and info from design, art, cultures and the natural world. All about colors.

Copyright Color Objects. All rights reserved.

Join Our Newsletter

Join our newsletter to get short monthly updates. You'll get a confirmation email, check your spam folder if you don't find it in your inbox.