I have to put up my hand and admit to a level of self-promotion in this post. Today is the launch of White Rooms: Decorating with Style, Pattern & Colour, a book by Karen McCartney and I featuring the photography of Richard Powers. The book explores the use of white as the basis for domestic interiors – whether in large doses to create a minimal monochrome home - or in conjunction with an abundance of decorative elements where white merely becomes the artistic anchor.
Thanks to the globetrotting photographer, Richard Powers, the imagery in the book comes from all over the world and from all forms of interiors – from the bubble-like rooftop apartment in San Paolo of Eduardo Longo to the luxurious villa of fashion designer, John Rocha in Cap Ferrat in the South of France.
While the concept of a decorative book on white might at first glance appear strange, examples like the Lazaro Rosa-Violán apartment in Barcelona shows how white often becomes the blank canvas onto which smaller areas of colour and a layering of objects can be applied. In the particular instance of Rosa Volán's apartment, the unifying power of white is used on the walls, doors and windows as a calming background - allowing the wealth of intricate decorative detail to be fully appreciated.
The book includes 8 case studies on the use of white in the form of individual houses by architects, interior designers and owners from Barcelona, Paris, London, San Paolo and more. Each of these interiors are wildly different to the next but all rely on the unifying effect of white.
In addition to the 8 case studies, the book covers each major area of the typical apartment or house – from bathrooms to stairs and hallways – covering a wide variety of decorative styles. Art directed by Tracy Lines, former art director of Australian interiors magazine Inside Out for many years while Karen McCartney was editor, the pages flow seductively despite this diversity.
While the book is about white it is often the use of white in conjunction with black that creates the most striking visual impact as in these two kitchen and dining room examples - a Parisian apartment designed by Stéphane Ghestem (above) and a renovation to a classic Edwardian house in Melbourne by interior architects, Wonder (below).
The final chapter in the book addresses some of the practical elements around the use of white. The Working with White chapter looks at the infinite variables found in white and provides some concrete examples of what works and why.
There are some very extreme examples of the use of white in interiors in the book such as this apartment designed by Markus Dochantschi of architecture practice studioMDA, for artist Jonny Detiger's in New York. The apartment mixes gloss white flooring with white fibreglass furniture from the 60's and 70's and custom pieces made by the artist himself in shiny metallic finishes. While white is everywhere in this example, it really only creates the futuristic ambience (recalling films like 2001: A Space Odyssey) - while the owners artworks - from the polished 'Golden Boy' loudspeakers to the intensely detailed 'One Love' painting shown above, take centre stage and dictate the overall style.
Often the real magic of white is revealed in architectural forms that feature curved walls or angular raked ceilings. As in the Pierre Yovanovitch house above and the Carole Katleman / Daniel Cuevas interior below, the subtle shadow play around shapes and architectural features show that a house with walls entirely painted in white are rarely bland, offering a heightened sense of 3-D relief that alters under different lighting conditions and throughout the day.
White Rooms: Decorating with Style Pattern & Colour is published by Lantern an imprint of Penguin Books and sells for $59.95 Australian Dollars. You can see more from Lantern here.
To coincide with the launch of the White Rooms book we have collaborated with Australian paint company Murobond, who formed part of our research into issues related to painted surfaces, to create a core range of white paints. Our curated selection of 10 great whites are taken from across the white spectrum and branded under the name Compass. For more on the range please go to the Murobond website here.