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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

White by Design

In the beginning, I would take the conversations seriously. By seriously, I mean attentively, with a reasonable expectation that I would get different responses regarding suggestions for color. Soon, however, I realized my best friend's answers would be presented and argued differently, but the preferred color in almost any situation was the same - white.

It became a private joke between this long time friend and other close friends. Her design choice appeared to always be white. Drapes, wall color, clothing - anything that was available in white was usually chosen or recommended.

With absolute serendipity, many years later, I discovered a hardcover book: White By Design by Bo Niles (published in 1984 and still in print). It was a virtual tribute to white and its use for interior decoration. The perfect gift. But alas, I was too lazy to purchase it. One of life's small regrets.

White is so important to visual artists. It is the color of light itself, and artists love and need light - it is one of their primary tools. I remember how surprised and disappointed I was when Apple Computer went from their six-color rainbow logo to white in 1998. Eventually, even their pioneering success in translucent color iMacs gave way to white. Now I love the white that dominates the color theme for Apple's packaging, graphics, and product line.

White has an elegance when used well as a decor choice. It not only gives a clean look but also allows other objects to shine. Used badly, white can be a horrific choice - everything is mercilessly revealed with white. It is also deliberately and conspicuously impractical, making a statement about luxury and the ability and willingness for maintenance. The decision to use white in an unforgiving city like New York makes a particularly strong statement.

White has cultural significance and is associated with purity, freedom, and cleanliness. There is a litany of positive associations in so many areas of life. We have white sugar, pure sand, snow, cotton, clouds, milk, white uniforms, white rooms, the White House, the white dove of peace, white robes of clergy, white bridal dresses, and white magic.

This shop in SoHo, the Cyrus Company, was arresting in its use of white. I was reminded, however, of the book I never purchased. But then, as now, there is always time, because the world never tires of white. In many ways, much of our world is White by Design :)

Related Postings: That's Quite a Briefcase, Who See the Red?, Coleur du Jour, Tale of Two Colors, A Colorful Life, Color Brigade, Eye Candy.


Vivien said...

I like your stories, they are always great.

Great blog!

Jodi said...

I've owned this book since 1984 and oh my LOVE IT. but doubt I'll ever live that "willingness for maintenance" you mention. Instead, lust!