One of Henry Ford’s famous quotes – almost certainly apocryphal – about the Model T was: “A customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants, so long as it is black.”
This quotation, of course, does not mean that Henry Ford was against consumer choice. Rather it indicates that he was committed to one thing above all else; widening car ownership as far as possible. The Model T Ford only came in black because the production line was geared to efficiency and quality. Spraying different colours would have required a break in the production line, meaning increased costs, more staff, more equipment, a more complicated process, and more risk. Another key reason was black automotive paint dried quickly, and speed was important at the Ford plant because of its production volumes. So Model Ts only came in black for 12 out of the 19 years they were in production.
Of course, there is black and there is black. Artists like Mark Rothko built their reputation on exploring the infinitesimal nuances of black. Check out Rothko’s Black Form series of eight sequenced paintings, or Untitled (black on grey), at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, USA and it quickly becomes clear that black is a very versatile colour (or is that absence of colour?)
For today’s tile manufacturers, black continues to be a mainstay; and a continuing source of inspiration. Whether as part of the timeless black and white pairing, as a feature tile to set against today’s ubiquitous grey field tiles, or as a feature wall, black remains firmly centre stage. Today’s black tiles play texture and relief, and add further differentiation by pairing black with gloss, satin, semi-polished and matt finishes.
Of course, black can be handled badly. My new house features an inherited fully-tiled bathroom covered floor to ceiling in 200 by 250mm eggshell black field tiles with 4mm plain white grout lines. It makes a surprising bold statement of aesthetic vandalism for such a small space.
While black is very much back in fashion, in both interiors and architecture, it has never fully fallen from grace. The reason, of course, is that the absolute non-colour looks good with virtually any shade. Recently, however, while on the one hand we are still continuing to see white moods and all-white interiors, on the other hand taste is shifting towards design schemes with a much darker, more intimate, mood. In the right hands, black tiles can make a bold and timeless contribution to even the most sophisticated contemporary décor schemes. Take Marazzi’s Mystone Lavagna, a stone-effect porcelain stoneware range for those in search of the perfect black. In this range one can find seductive textures and 3D effects for amazing, total black interiors.
Of course, designing such all-black spaces is a challenge – a very strong stylistic statement. However, in competent hands, it can imbue residential interiors with contemporary glamour. It can also have high impact in retail locations, or provide a classic cladding for architectural façades.
When colour is eliminated in favour of total black, the trick is to play around with textures, with the juxtaposition of materials, with solid shapes and gaps, and 3D effects. And this is exactly what Marazzi’s Mystone Lavagna offers. Inspired by the darkest type of slate, the range faithfully reproduces this stone’s tactile effect, creating the ideal tile for those in search of perfect black, in a daring design scheme in absolute black with all the beauty of stone.
Mystone Lavagna comes in the rectangular and square versions (300 by 600, 600 by 600, 750 by 750 and 750 by 1,500mm), and also in 3D mosaics with extra-small chips in 300 by 300 and 300 by 600mm.
As this range shows, a single colour and a single material offers the scope for creating interesting variations on the theme of black: just think, for example, of the striking effect of a combination with 3D mosaic on the wall and 750 by 1,500mm slabs on the floor, or how the black of Mystone Lavagna could be used to create a feature bedroom headboard or living room fireplace surround
What’s more, the anti-slip structured version is perfect for paving outdoor spaces, for seamless continuity between indoors and outdoors.
So, as they say, black is the new black!
A new post by Joe Simpson, Diary of a Tile Addict, July 2017