Why do architects like black?

Black is an absence of all colors. Black gets out of the way and lets other elements or events take prominence. Yet it can also have a very powerful presence. It’s a conundrum, which makes it appealing. It is complexity and contradiction personified.

I believe that the use of black hearkens back to our formative years in architecture school. When architects begin their career, they start by sketching with a black pencil on a blank sheet of paper. This restricts the thought process to basic elements of shape, form, contrast, value and shading which are more than enough to deal with initially. Later on, more elements are added to the mix, but the basic foundation is always present.

Design Elements

Black can be used sparingly to set off other elements or colors. A black reveal separates two elements. Black can be used to create elegance: A tuxedo is the epitome of elegance.


Black furniture is neutral. Depending on the item, it can have a high visual impact or it can be relegated to the background. Black audio speakers psychologically help them to “disappear”, which is what I want when listening to music. I want to concentrate on the music and the manifestation of the instruments in the room rather than on the speakers.

It’s much easier to ignore black speakers than red speakers, for instance, even in a dimly lit room.

Product Design

Compatibility and elegance are primary reasons for selecting black consumer products. Seldom does one grow weary of a black phone, for instance. A black car gives the impression of solidity, prominence, and a driver that knows exactly who he is and what he wants.

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