Design Notes Archive

Black & White, light

Black & White, light

We’ve been noticing a lot of black and white tiling lately but there’s something lighter and fresher about this take on the colour scheme than in recent years. It’s white-heavy, cut with black in thin, graphic lines that give it an airy quality. Perhaps the resurgence is simply due to a lightening up for the season or perhaps it’s looking back to artists like Jean Pierre Raynaud, whose iconic Parisian Maison made waves in the design world when it opened in 1974. The house, La Maison De La Celle-Saint Cloud’ Art, was actually an art installation where Raynaud lined every surface with white ceramic tiles measuring 15x15cm. Applying 5mms of black grout between them, he created a grid that encompassed walls, ceilings, and even built-in furniture. The effect was immersive, if not dizzying, save for a few carefully placed palm trees that gave your eye a place to rest.

Admittedly this level of pattern would be hard to endure day-to-day but it can be channeled into livable design. This bathroom by Madrid-based designer Lorenzo Castillo is a prime example of the lightened up palette at work in the real world. By carrying the chain link motif along the floor and up the far walls only, your eye travels through the room with focus. Not unlike Raynaud’s windowpanes, Castillo installed custom shower doors that nod to the motif. The effect breaks up the pattern rather than competing with it. To keep the room from feeling cold, he brought in natural wood accents and added texture with ceiling panels and a studded door. We think aged brass hardware would have an equally warming influence.

Further afield in Guadalajara, Mexico, architect Ignacio Cadena transformed the façade of a 1940’s building in the design district with handmade ceramic tiles. Going back even further for inspiration, they boast a subtle black stitching pattern and draw on Aztec art. The project was a family affair as the building houses Hueso – acclaimed restaurant of Cadena’s brother, celebrity-chef Alfonso Cadena. Put it on your must visit list if summer holidays find you exploring Mexico’s incredible design scene. We may love the exterior but inside is the talk of the town….

Images © Jean Pierre Raynaud; Manolo Yllera; Jaime Navarro