A Short History of the Color White

by ·

We all know that white is the lightest of all colors, but did you know that it has 50 different shades of which only one, pure white, is the most genuine extraction of white?

White means a lot of different things to different people and its symbolism has transformed over and over again throughout history. To the Romans, it meant citizenship and loyalty. To the Renaissance men, a symbol of chastity. In the Rococo, white meant wealth and glory. In the Age of Enlightenment of the late 18th century, it was the most fashionable of all colors. In the 19th century, it meant innocence. In China, reincarnation. In India, white symbolized purity and divinity. To some, it means purity and innocence, to others it means balance, new beginnings or calmness. To me, white is the color of perfection, of the pristine. It has the potential to introduce sparks to a room, a powerful agent to dominate the interior space.

When objects and accessories in white are introduced into the interior space, they can transform and empower rooms. White accents bring energy, harmony and peace, stimulating smiles, relaxation and love. I am talking about objects that merge artistic creativity, poetic contents, and the color of white, objects I tend to use in sharpening a sense of perfection and flawlessness. Just like Caesarstone's Pure White, which has brought so much character into my own kitchen, the passionate search for objects in white has come to play a leading role in my quest for a sophisticated interior.

To exemplify my argument, I have selected three pieces of furniture which represent the power of this color in conveying the allure of 21st century design. Three sophisticated objects by designers who care for craftsmanship, for inventing new forms based on history and traditions, for whom design is a tool of expressing poetic ideas.

Image: Carpenters Workshop Gallery | Designer: Rick Owens, Benchdent

Rick Owens, the fashion designer who looks back to prehistoric times when creating his celebrated fashion and furniture, illuminates his agenda by using material associated with the ancient, such as ox bone and petrified wood.


Image: Maison Gerard | Design: Carol Egan, Sculptural Twist in Marble Stool 

Interior designer Carol Egan revisits furniture forms first developed in ancient Rome, while giving them new interpretations utilizing advanced digital technological tools available today.

Image: Gerasimos Domenikos | Design: Steven Petrides and Andreas Voukenas, Voukenas Petrides

American architect Steven Petrides and his partner Greek designer Andreas Voukenas have developed a series of white furniture in ceramics, inspired by the traditional Greek work in clay, with forms that are spontaneous, sculptural and reminiscent of the glowing white architecture of Greece.

Living with white elevates our spirit, refreshing our energies, and to me, it is the most sensual of all colors, prefect to discuss in the heart of the summer.


Leave a comment

Recent Pins
A design historian of international esteem, Daniella Ohad is an educator, tastemaker and writer. Specializing in 20th Century and Contemporary Design, she has taught at such institutions as the School of Visual Arts, Pratt Institute and Parsons New School for Design.