The world isn’t black and white. In fact, we often remind ourselves not to see it that way. But sometimes removing color is the best way to find beauty.
The classic combo of yin and yang, panda bears and checkerboard tiles, black and white represent harmony and balance.
Psychologically, they’re opposing forces: black is secretive and mysterious; it helps us hide our emotions and insecurities. It represents ultimate power, control, luxury and elegance. When it comes to fashion, it’s still cool to wear black; research has shown that black clothing makes us appear smarter and sexier.
White, on the other hand, is pure, clean and futuristic. It represents innocence, but can sometimes appear cold and sterile. When talking brands, white can present a calm, organized and efficient company. Someone wearing white-on-white in a sea of black can appear amazingly confident.
Here are 6 beautiful things about black + white:
- Great Contrast: The contrast between these two tones can make the focal point of a photograph or a design stand out. With our fickle attention spans (less than goldfish!) we need strong contrast to draw our attention in the first place.
- Sometimes Subtle: Often what’s best about black and white are all the gorgeous shades of gray. The great tones in between light and dark are lost when colors are in the mix.
- Brings Clarity: Color is a powerful tool, but can be a distraction. Whether it’s the subject of a photograph or the lines, shapes and aesthetics of a design, color can obscure what’s most important. Conversely, adding one color to a black and white design may provide focus for key messages.
- A Bit Surreal: Because we’re constantly surrounded by color, restricting ourselves to black and white is like being trapped in an Escher lithograph or Lynch movie; it feels otherworldly and a bit spooky but in a really beautiful, artistic way. Which makes it all good.
- Classy and Sophisticated: For some reason, we associate periods in history before color photography with elegance. Black and white brings to mind vintage films, movie stars of the gilded age and our great grandparents.
- Effective: Biologically speaking, we’re wired to notice changes in light more than color. It’s one of the reasons we’re encouraged to expose babies to black and white pictures—the high contrast between tones give their developing retinas strong visual signals that encourage faster brain growth.
While black and white have symbolized the struggle between good and evil, light and dark and day and night for centuries, they’re both a powerfully timeless pairing and very modern.
Our eyes like contrast and the dance of opposites. In a world bombarded by color, sometimes the stark difference between light and dark stands out amidst all the noise.