Why is everything WHITE?!

26 Mar

As a designer, I have always found some semblance of an appeal to white.  It provides an open canvas, gives a “pristine” appearance, and creates intriguing contrasts and focal points in relationship to it’s adjacent surroundings.  But seriously, when is too much white TOO MUCH WHITE?

Case in point: I have been glancing at my CONTEMPORIST email subscription for, basically, one minute per day. Not much time, I know, but it is enough to get a quick inspiration or moment of disgust at the design the email is presenting to me.  The last three emails in a row presented some beautifully designed homes, except for one thing…they were all white.  No, I’m serious, inside and out, all white. Now, again, I understand SOME appeal to white, but three in a row as all white…isn’t that a bit much?

Below are the three houses (and my quick opinions)

Casa Playa Las Palmeras: Riofrio+Rodrigo Architects

Advantage of the white: the blue stair really pops, which is such a neat occurence!

Disadvantage of the white: there are some cool design elements, but I’m bored after 5 minutes

Mario Rocha House: Carlos Nuna Lacerda

Advantage of the white: the wood slats really pop

Disadvantage of the white: again, it gets boring pretty quick

Low Energy House: Steinmetz De Meyer Architects

Advantage of the white: shadows play nicely in some of the house, and the solid/void play is attractive

Disadvantage of the white: this one is my favorite of the three. It caries the most interest, in my opinion, but again only lasts so long


While I like parts of these designs, they fall short in keeping my interest and boasting an overall quality of life. I feel that, as a home, there needs to me more character, more comfort, and more personality. But then again, that’s just me…everyone’s different!

In conclusion, I have one question…WHY WHITE?!  Seriously, please reply, I would love to hear some opinions!


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4 Responses to “Why is everything WHITE?!”

  1. Aric March 26, 2012 at 11:15 PM #

    I think you actually missed a really interesting reason of why white. Look at the first two advantages and the white is used to make a key component pop. That is one really good advantage of white is that it makes everything not white (blue stairs, wood slats, people, furniture) stand out. Here I do agree though the items made to stand out are not strong enough to overcome the more blandness of the designs though I don’t necessarily think it is all Mrs. White’s (in the studio with the T-square) fault.

    I do actually like the last house and don’t seem to get the same bored feeling you did. I also think that one would really improve on a visit, much more than the other two. Also, the house is meant to be energy efficient and so the white is actually serving a environmental purpose there too!

    I do agree though, Architects maybe need to not use white as the default.

    • Ryan March 28, 2012 at 12:55 PM #

      Making objects “pop” is certainly the strongest observation/argument for white. I think you hit the nail on the head too…the reason for any apparent boredom is because there aren’t enough objects to make pop, giving the spaces an almost museum-like quality rather than a living space.

      I also agree with you about the third house. It is by far my favorite, and I agree that it warrants a visit! The white for energy efficiency certainly stands true for this house, but that, again, presents my opinion of the “all white” phenomena in residences. While white is amazingly affective in aiding energy efficiency, it needs ot be balanced with other materials and color pallettes important in benefiting our psychological needs.

      To be honest, I think that’s my biggest concern about “all white”. White has many merits! Aric has certainly pointed out the most important, and I’m sure there are others. However, does all-white fulfill our psychological needs? Our emotions? Comfort? Certainly a question that will always be hard to answer!

      I would love to see these homes though!

  2. Aric April 13, 2012 at 10:27 PM #

    Here is a house that makes beautiful use of white:

    Now it does have black but the interior is very white and it is striking how well the white and black play off each other.

    • Ryan April 22, 2012 at 2:27 PM #

      I agree that “white” is used well here because of the strategic use of black. In this case, everything is not white…the black helps to create an opposing contrast while the objects within (the pink furniture, for example) spice up the use of white.

      I like the use of white in an example like this because there are other forces that create an intrigue. I think that makes the use of white more powerful and interesting.

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