White is the new Pink is the new Black

It Snowed.

Unless you’re a Southern Californian like me this statement is absolutely no big deal.  In fact you’re scratching your head with wonder at just why I would say something so menial and trivial that you’ve probably already closed your browser window looking or something better to read. Or do.  Or eat (if you’re also like me and like to eat your emotions).

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And if you are a Southern Californian like me you’re still wondering what snow is.

I’m getting to a point… stop asking.

Like I was saying, it snowed – in Cologne.  IMM and Germany can be quite an experience when walking through layers of white powder covering just about every surface imaginable.  Every morning, the BlogTour group awoke to a new layer of white, fluffy albeit wet, snow.  And every morning we’d subject ourselves to piling on more layers of clothes and trudging along, experiencing a deep freeze that even Miele couldn’t pull off.

Being that I am a Southern Californian and the whole experience we call snow is highly unusual and very suspect for me, I ended up with photos.  Lots of photos.  So many photos that at some point I’m going to devote an entire post to “leaves with snow”.  I’ll post it in July when it’s 80 degrees and I’m in a pool in Palm Springs.  While I’m in a speedo.

But I also came to the realization that Mother Nature has been trying to tell us something that designers everywhere are only just now beginning to realize.  We’ve been in this rut, listening to GQ (hot boys), Vogue (hot girls) and Pantone (sigh….) for inspiration so much so that we tend to miss some of nature’s design lessons.  And in all of that snow, I realized that white (and I don’t mean the white after your friend has, let's just say, written his name in the snow with an ink of a natural variant) results in the best cooling effect.  A tone down per say. 

Think about it.  Imagine a run down, abandoned, graffiti covered industrial building.  Unsightly.  Disgusting.  Someone please tear down this eyesore already.  Now put snow on it.   See what I mean?  You’re rushing out right now to get your camera and asking me for a location of this said gem.

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The same is true for industrial and product design.  Boring shapes, overused finishes, normal run of the mill everyday stuff.  Add a splash of white and it’s new, brilliant and gaga ready. 

IMM had no shortage of accentuated products.  It seems faucetry designers have jumped on this bandwagon faster than a alcoholic at an open bar.  A few years back, as part of the Brizo Fashionweek campaign, I remember the designers bringing out a prototype constructed of polystyrene.  It wasn’t a finished product.  In fact, it wasn’t even a product, simply a study of shape and construction.  Myself and the 18 other designers/stylists/writers nearly jumped over the table to get at it.  So new, so refreshing.  Different.  The excitement levels hit record highs and I’m sure most of the gang forgot or glazed over the rest of the never-seen-before designs.

They’ve listened and companies like Blanco, Shock, and Brizo are introducing either all white or white accented variants of their exiting product lines to market.  Blanco’s Alta series, for example, transforms from ok to simply sexy with it’s matte white armature.  Brizo’s Solna becomes the ice queen of the kitchen in it’s white coat. 

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Luxury appliance manufactures who, for decades, eschewed any other color but stainless steel, are dipping their proverbial legs into the colored marketplace.  The reality is that range manufacturers were the first.  Companies like Aga, La Cornue, and Bertazzoni have, for the majority of their lives, offered their line-ups in a selection of mind-blowing colors.  However, those who specialized in flush type appliances simply straggled but are, with much fanfare, jumping on board.

Miele’s Generation 6000 series, a well designed flush product range, is now able to further blend in with surrounding cabinetry in super modern and ultra contemporary surroundings. Gaggenau, with their 200 series,  allows users to combine the detailed facades of their popular high end ovens to mix in to a traditional cabinetry setup.  Even IKEA, known for bringing popular trends to market at light year speed, has introduced white facades to it’s self-branded appliance line up.  I know that they’re not high end, but there is something to be said.

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I think, though, that my favorite use of white as an accent has to come from the lighting and furniture markets where metals and woods continue to be the norm.  Designers are still using the ever popular hardwoods, chromes, and matte brasses that we’ve come to enjoy in the 21st century but are experimenting with white as an enhancement.

Tobias Grau, a German lighting designer with a delicate aesthetic, wraps his Falling Star line of wall-, ceiling- and table- lighting with armatures of white plastic. Nicholai Wiig Hansen, via his table for Normann Copenhagen, topped a polished white top with smooth wooden legs for a different take on what would have been an otherwise so-so design.  (Sidenote: Nicholai is also responsible for several IKEA designs including the PS metal cabinet).  One of my recent favorites is a prototype from Typewriter Boneyard.  Designer Philip Hansen intended his block of wood with vintage type outlets and red cord to be a display for his carbon filament lamps.  But now, a growing contingent (including myself) would like to see it made for public consumption as a production model.

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It’s seeping in.  White that is.  Are you on board?

If you’re interested in any of the products seen here and would like more information, please do not hesitate to send me an email.

 All photos Copyright DCoopMedia unless noted and may not be used without express written permission.