Designing with Black

 "Black has always been my favourite colour - or absence of colour," says Stephen Crafti. The Melbourne based journalist and author of the newly published book Designing with Black describes himself as having always been drawn to black houses, irrespective of the materials they are constructed from - whether they are zinc, timber or simply painted.

A recent move to an unrenovated home provided him with the opportunity for 'thinking black'. Although he decided that the 1930s duplex (one up, one down) he purchased would look odd painted black, the renovation did allow him to apply 'a black paint brush' across many of the surfaces.

"The timber floors, for example, concealed by carpet for nearly 80 years, were polished in lacquered black. This not only provided a strong contrast to the chalk-white walls, but also allowed light to reflect from the high gloss finish."

Stephen dreams of one day living in a black house. "It could be made of concrete, steel or even timber, as long as it was black" he says. Designing with Black is the starting point to this goal. More than 30 stunning projects featuring black and white architecture and interiors appear in the book, many of them from Australia or New Zealand. Amongst those included from the northern hemisphere are the award-winning Shingle House in Dungeness by Nord Architecure for Living Architecture and a modern industrial style house in Bordeaux designed by Fabre/deMarien.

The Shingle House Dungeness

Bordeaux house by Fabre/deMarien

One of my own favourites is a simple understated house on the Banks Peninsula, an hours drive from Christchurch, New Zealand. The brief for this weekend home, created by Case Ornsby and Tobin Smith, was to create a 'sense of camping'. Located on a relatively steep site on the water's edge, the single-storey house is predominantly clad in black stained cedar which is framed by lush green vegetation.

Banks Peninsula house by Case Ornsby & Tobin Smith

"Unlike most houses, which scream for attention, black houses sit quietly, accentuating the often verdant landscape," says Stephen. "There is also a sense of calm and tranquility with a black home. Like my own house where black seems to camoflage any irregularities, black design helps to remove the superfluous detail that takes away from the overall concept. And although I'm surrounded by black in my current home, there's a feeling of solidity, not despair."

Designing with Black by Stephen Crafti (IMAGES Publishing) is distributed in the UK by ACC Distribution.

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