What makes black so special? Why – throughout the decades – is has been considered to be the epitome of cool? Siemens Home Appliances spoke to a few leading young designers – in fashion and product design – to explore the allure of the deepest and darkest of all colours, and ask them to tell us about their own favourite black object. First in our series are Inna Stein and Caroline Rohner, the young duo behind designer label Steinrohner.
Q: Once upon a time, black was anti-fashion. What’s changed?
Caroline: I think it started when people wanted some anonymity. They didn’t want to stand out too much. They wanted to be recognised for who they are, not what’s on the outside. This trend evolved, of course, and today black stands for premium; for things with distinction. Black is not instantly associated with mourning anymore, and we shouldn’t forget that in many countries this was never the case anyway.
Q: And what does that mean for the colour black in today’s fashion?
Inna: Black goes with everything. It complements everything. Take anything in your wardrobe and combine it with some tight black trousers … it just works.
Caroline: Black fades into the background. At the same time, it makes everything else stand out. And that’s what makes black so interesting for designers. It’s actually a quite magical colour. Black means shadows and shape, it gives everything a much more three-dimensional feel.
Q: So how do you use black in your designs?
Caroline: We use black to give our designs more texture. Take flowers, print them on black and their colour will just pop. Combined with black, everything gets that extra glow and luminosity. A few dashes of black, say a black background, and you can nearly feel this piece of clothing with your eyes…
Inna: For many of our designs we do both… we create the jacket or dress using colours plus some black… and then we recreate the piece using black textures only. Both work, each piece has its own impact.
Caroline: Black is also important when you put on a fashion show. On the catwalk, you do need a few black pieces, so that the eyes can rest and reset before the next colourful creation comes along…
Black is an oasis of calm for the eyes.
Q: But that’s the designer talking, right?
Inna: Actually, no. When I walk the streets of Berlin, I see that most people prefer to wear bright colours. However, if you look closely, you’ll notice that nearly everybody combines colours with black. It’s that what makes the colours work.
Q: A lot of designers wear only black… What’s your take on that: wouldn’t it be better to add a dash of colour?
Caroline: You’d be surprised how many shades of black there are. Some blacks have a green or blue tint, others are more reddish. Personally speaking, Inna and me like both: Looking elegant and perfectly dressed all in black, and using a bit of colour for effect. In many of our fashion lines we use a dash of colour to make the design stand out.
Q: But black is a quite tricky colour. Often the blacks wash out after just a few visits to the washing machine, and the sun is also the natural enemy of black. How can black clothes retain their premium look?
Inna: True, the sun can bleach many black fabrics, and washing doesn’t help either. Well, to avoid that, for starters only put clothing of the same colour in your wash. Store your clothes in a wardrobe, away from light. Most synthetic materials will, of course, always stay black – unlike linen and cotton fabrics. We use black silk a lot, because it doesn’t lose its premium look even after it’s been washed many times.
Q: And finally, what’s your favourite black object?
Inna: Well, we both have actually chosen the same object: a little bottle of black ink. When we sketch our designs, we always start drafting using this special black ink. If you look on the black on paper, the nuances, you already can express all the structures, the depth of the design, and you can just imagine the potential when you add colour.
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