A MONOCHROMATIC EPIPHANY

During these chaotic days of pandemic and #BLM social revolution in the making, I hear repeatedly how people are ditching their minimalist style, and surrender to the natural course of life, mess. This Atlantic article The Pandemic Has Made a Mockery of Minimalism is one example.


I, too, struggle. Being an architect who's drawn to minimalism, while also being a mom, is enough of a challenge as it is, even without the additional "aid" of a pandemic, social distancing and home schooling. But when I do surrender to mess, my mind feels like it's about to explode with the over-stimulation caused by an untamed surrounding.

Louise Nevelson's Total Totality ll at Harvard Art Museums. Wood, paint & hardware // photo by yours truly

Before the pandemic, when visiting museums was considered a normal activity, I was at Harvard Art Museums, staring at Louise Nevelson's Total Totality ll, when it suddenly sank, my personal understanding of monochrome as a source of piece and quiet. Serenity. It was either that, or the kid-free zone. But I want to say it was a pure monochrome vibe, because otherwise this post is pointless.


And my point is that monochrome, while used as a flattening/blending tool, also makes you stop and pay attention. Because of that flattening ability and lack of distractions, you can now get a more profound perspective of shapes, textures, layers, depth, light and shadow, merits that might have been dismissed otherwise. It is very much like an epiphany, or so I was told.

It's impossible to think of monochrome without mentioning Mark Rothko, specifically his late works, when he strayed further from color and used exclusively different tonalities of black. His black series paintings concentrate only on color and form, in the purest level of minimalism. What seems like nothing more than a simple black canvas, on closer observation pulls you in, to reveal depth, movement, and hidden layers enclosed between pulsing borders. There is no agenda, only art evoking feelings.

Understanding Rothko's method through online images is almost impossible, because scale is a big part of his work, but this article explains nicely how to understand art on the example of Mark Rothko.


I see Monochrome as an inviting background, its cleanliness and openness a welcoming vast, like in these aerial photographs by Mitch Rouse.

Same welcoming-all qualities go for architecture and interior design. And the beauty is you don't have to be a huge fan of a particular color in order to appreciate a monochromatic space. When done systematically, it's perfection, whatever color you choose. Well, except for yellow. I hate yellow.

Below are monochromatic bathrooms designed by Studio Bright. God is in the details, or in this case, the grout.

And back to neutral monochrome. Below is a danish design by tinekhome, photography by Mikkel Adsbøl:

Because each element complements the other and there's no competition, no focal-point distraction, your mind is free to appreciate all components equally, whether for their shape, color or texture: from the linen sofa cover, jute rug and wooden chair, through the roundness of the side tables, to the brick walls, concrete floor and minimal window frames. Pure Harmony.

Amen.

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Architecture & Interior Design

© 2020 by Elinor Gefen-Rotstein

Greater Boston Area

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