we look at the classic black and white colour scheme, and the times in history where it really made a splash. we also look at war hero josephine baker and her black and white townhouse that never got built.
in case you have succumbed to uncertainty and doubt, we give you a 48h only discount on the new black and white gravity tray, so you too can be bold and sieze the moment.
HERO JOSEPHINE BAKER
a perfect icon of 20th century modernity, baker started her life in the slums of st louis, and was honoured in the pantheon in paris, marking her journey from poor black girl to 'one of the great men (sic) of the french republic'.
working as a showgirl from the age of 13, she realised that the only way she could stand out in a chorus line was to be at the end, and inject a touch of comedy to her dancing.
when work dried up in the usa, she sailed to paris in 1925, where she became an instant hit. she was able to mix the tawdriness of erotic dancing with the projection of great intellect and courage, which led to her becoming involved, romantically and intellectually with some of the leading minds of the 20th century, including architects le corbusier and adolf loos, novelist georges simeon and many more.
adolf loos, the revolutionary viennese proto-modernist developed a house for her based on our theme of black and white stripes. it was a stark contrast to the grey and beige texture of pre war paris. unlike later modernist reactions to hausmanian monotony, it remained within the scale and chromatic register of the city, it would be very interesting to see how it would have been received, and how it would look now, 90 years later.
baker, however, was just getting started. she played a major role in the french resistance, using her casual showgirl persona to party with nazis and vichy beurocrats, all the while passing information back to the allies. it was her brave and delicate work during occupation that led to her receiving the legion d'honneur and the croix de guerre, a true hero to inspire us all to be bold, stand out, celebrate difference and kick it all off with a sense of humour.
TACTIC HORIZONTAL STRIPS
for such an obvious graphic ploy, horizontal black and white stripes are a rarity in architecture. there are three contexts where they dominate.
the strange and wonderful italian city of genoa sort of own this tactic. many of her finest churches add sophistication and punch to solid romanesque energy by going to town on this strong visual technique.
the look went dormant for 850 years, and resurfaced in the mind of austrian architect adolf loos, who conceived (but sadly never built) an iconic townhouse for legendary american parisienne josephine baker. its one of those unbuilt projects that has stuck in the imagination of many architecture students, most of whom butcher it.
one architect who has taken on the challenge and really won is mario botta. you can see the thousand year lineage of the genoese churches, filtered through loos & baker's punchy clarity, in is most perfect expression of the striped space.
you have probably seen it on instagram, the church of san giovanni battista in mogno, switzerland. you should definitely visit. its a detour, in a dead end valley, this church is on the way to nowhere, but its the most beautiful detour you can hope to take.
GRAVITY BLACK AND WHITE
bring that bold, bright, iconic look to your hallway or coffee table with these statement pieces.
ideal as a fruit bowl or a catch-all for keys and phones.
the individual fins are etched and powder coated in a family run factory just outside venice, before being brought to a social workshop here in berlin, where they are assembled under the supervision of expert craftsmen.
get an introductory 20% off with the discount code BOLD at checkout.
hurry, offer expires sunday.