White & Colour Symbolism
Colours speak to us, they hold symbolism – so what of white?
Calming or Clinical? Empty or an embodiment? Pure or a bore?
Colours are both subjective and versatile. It is the way we use them that creates great design, to define an atmosphere and carve character. The trend for matt materials adds a sophisticated tactility to any room, regardless of its colour: Whereas Matt Black absorbs light and creates a drama against its backdrop, Matt White has an elegant touch and reflects light.
Typically, the colour white translates to purity, cleanliness and illuminates a space. It’s honest, with no room for error. ‘Honest’ objects can be described as those with organic textures emulating natural elements from our environment. The colour white communicates a fluffy cloud, the feather of a dove, a honed pebble, untouched snow and a literal blank canvas of opportunity. A symbol of calm in a hectic world.
It is inbuilt in us to connect to nature, where we came from which has resulted in a surge for biophilic design. Despite being a new buzz word, biophilic design – designing to incorporating nature – has been rooted in Nordic design for a century alongside minimalism.
White & Minimalism
The simplistic and functional philosophy of Nordic design would be why we see a persistent synonymy between minimalism and white. The uncomplicated ethos, simplicity of clean lines and letting materials speak for themselves are key drivers in both Nordic and minimal design.
Despite colour being an important driver in Bauhaus design, many minimalistic traits are rooted in the ten Bauhaus principles from the 1919 manifesto. The Germanic art school running from 1919-1933 holds prestige as an infamous paradigm shift in design. Principles include:
- ‘Form Follows Function’ outlining practicality as paramount.
- ‘True Materials’ insisting that materials kept in their honest state without fear of brutality in design, from concrete facades to raw woods and oxidized metals.
- ‘Simplicity and Effectiveness’ and ‘Minimalism’ both outline the requirement for careful consideration and refinement in order to create timeless design.
The creator of Vola, Arne Jacobsen, graduated in architecture at the time Bauhaus was in its prime and was heavily influenced by the Bauhaus principles in his product design for decades – even the selection of mixers from the award-winning Vola brand.
Vola and Matt White
Danish culture is entwined with its landscape, thus embedded in Vola’s design ethos. The sustainability and timelessness is admirable with Vola’s ‘Celebrated classics’ remaining unchanged since their creation in 1968, which demonstrates ‘how consistency of form and function underpins the best modern design.’
The monolithic designs of Vola brassware see no changes in form, yet the product is updated periodically through colour finishes – as colour trends are ever evolving per era. The first colours released were; grey to emulate concrete of the Bauhaus and orange to celebrate the swinging sixties, the following ‘Original 10’ colours were a ground breaking offering delivering totality and personalisation possibilities. 2019 saw the rare addition of new colour introduced – Matt White. A stark contrast to the original 10 that pushed design boundaries, Matt White has the ability to harmonise and compliment any interior scheme. By creating a subtle yet strong impact, Matt White brassware will compliment but not overpower.
So how do we use these design principles and what is the most effective way when specifying Matt White?
The tactile, almost intimate surface of VOLA’s Matt white finish is due to its subtly shifting surface texture, which alludes to warm natural surfaces like eggshell and pebbles.
Designing with Matt White Brassware
With white as a marker of purity and calm, where better a place to feature than where we wash away the day and promote wellness?
This is why since the 1990s we have seen white used ubiquitously in bathrooms; it is the most common of sanitaryware colours, but not for brassware. Although, it would certainly create a harmonic design; blending seamlessly with sanitaryware and tiles in similar shades. As white is only uncharacteristic when it’s flat, it is important to add depth with texture by pairing with an equally inviting tactility such as Bagnotec stone.
For a more striking sense of style, white can become the accent colour by using brassware as the statement feature when contrasted against a darker shade. The contrast created will avoid a clinical ambiance by balancing the design. Matt White brassware also allows colours to sing. Thanks to a resurgence in coloured sanitaryware alongside the myriad of materials available for vanity units and tile effects, white is also easily contrasted with other materials. The juxtaposition of each material allows each texture to be elevated, with the white tone literally highlighting details of its partnered finish: whether it be the flecks of concrete or veins of marble.
Regardless of ratio, such a stark finish has no room for error and thus the flawless form produces a sculptural statement with a matt finish emitting a tranquil and sophisticated feel.