Why You Need a Little Darkness
Featuring your favorite designers...
Any artist or designer will tell you that negative space – visually, sonically or otherwise - is just as important as activity. Film directors use silence before a moment of drama to intensify a pay-off, musicians will stop the track completely to make its return even more potent, just as painters will use shadows to amplify light; and this is integral to interior design.
Light isn’t purely functional, and those that realise how effective its contrast with darkness can be will open up their spaces and art to another level.
Lighting Design and Us
If you’ve ever woken up and marvelled at a blinding blue sky or been left disappointed by all-encompassing grey clouds, you know first-hand the effect that light has on humans. On those darker days, serotonin levels crash and can make people feel more negative and fatalistic, whereas exposure to daylight can boost these chemicals while inspiring positivity and productivity. There is a balance to be struck, however.
What is more visually striking - the moon in the middle of a sunny day, or piercing the pitch black of midnight; a candle in a well lit space, or as the sole luminary of a dark room? It is the contrasts that make these moments so visually stimulating and for the uninitiated, this ideology is behind some of the most important art in the world.
Contrasts in Popular Culture
The Burning Monk by Malcom Browne works because it captures the ferocity and violence of fire, which clashes with the calmness and serenity of the monk. This juxtaposition instantly catches the eye, and there are few photographs that catch the eye like this.
Lunch Atop a Skyscraper combines the civility of eating lunch with the panic attack heights of the skyscraper they were responsible for building. The workers would look right at home in a diner or cafe, but in swapping safety wires for smokes and helmets for ham sandwiches, the image elevates to a classic. Even outside of photography, these contrasts are commonplace.
Take a look at the two highest grossing films of all time and you’re instantly hit with more; Avatar contrasts the primitive civility of the Navi tribes with the aggressive power-hunger of modern man, whereas Titanic contrasts the high life of Rose Calvert with the labours of struggling artist Jack Dawson. The films work because of the dichotomy created when these worlds collide.
Contrasts work so well because they help the creator provide a deeper focus on certain elements, using one extreme to emphasise another; what better way to draw focus to furniture than by dulling the surroundings, almost like a fish eye lens.
Popular interior designers have their say
To get a better understanding of this, we spoke to some of our favourite designers across the internet for their take on darkness and light:
Faraway Lisa Mae – Lisa Preece
"Darkness in interior design adds a new dimension to a room. Light, bright interiors may be a huge trend, particularly on Instagram, but dark interiors have much more intrigue. Many people can be hesitant to go dark, especially during the winter, but a dark-toned room can be the perfect place to curl up with a book during the winter.
In summer, it’s a perfect retreat from the sun. My favourite dark interiors have two walls painted in a very dark blue or green. Some paints even come with a shimmer or hint of metallic which really draws the eye.”
British Style UK – Natalia Alexandrou
“Darkness is just as important as light in interior design as it changes the mood in a space to create atmosphere. Darkness can be dramatic, but it can also be cosy depending on the use of colour and texture in a room. Darkness creates depth in a space and if used cleverly, can make a narrow room feel wider, or ceilings seem higher.“
Just Little Me – Jules
"We are currently on the look out to buy a house and top of our list has been whether it has good natural light, to feel bright and airy during the day.
However there is also a lot to be said about considering how we can play with the darkness in the evenings. Your home is your sanctuary and having a warm cosy feel when you snuggle up on the sofa can make all the difference to your evening.
We like to create areas of warm golden lighting through our lamps and candles, allowing shadows to be cast to give the room depth, to signal to the brain this is our time to wind down and get comfortable now"
Well I Guess This Is Growing Up – Karen Clough
“For me, a home should always be about a feeling over a look - and rich, dark tones always give me a feeling of warmth and cosiness that is just essential at the end of a long workday. I think some dark interiors get a bad press for being moody or cold when in fact it’s just all about choosing the right hue and pairing it with enough light sources.”
The Only Girl In The House - Jess Warmer
“When we originally renovated our house, to take into account our blended and growing family of 5 boys, I had visions of a Scandi-inspired monochrome interior with swathes of white walls. The reality of dirty finger prints and endless white soon kicked in though and I yearned for a touch of drama, depth and intrigue – which is exactly what’s offered with the addition of a dark wall.
Painting either an odd wall, an entire bathroom or up to waist height in the hall, black, instantly injected character, made all the other colours – plants, curios and artwork – pop and suddenly those tiny, sticky fingerprints became invisible!”
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
We want to thank the great people above for their help with the article, and we wouldn’t have picked them to feature if we didn’t like what they do so make sure you check out their work as well.
While we can’t sell you darkness, we can provide you with light – so whether you want some LED light fittings to provide the balance designers so desire, or maybe you need some commercial lighting instead – feel free to browse our products or ask us any questions you have!