Like an old photograph, a black-and-white color scheme transcends time.
By Melissa Paul
Designing the empty space of a white tent is a process of starting afresh, taking risks and giving shape to the imagination. Working within the constraints of the client’s budget and taste is expected, but when it comes to color, event designers draw on a kaleidoscope of options. Sometimes, though, living on the color wheel is overwhelming. Paring down a color scheme to black and white produces results that are dramatic and understated, timeless and elegant. In other words, it’s a sure thing.
While some may regard black-and-white design as limiting, others see a sophisticated palette with tremendous possibilities. Consider how shades of black and white surround us: snowcaps on dark mountains, a zebra’s stripes, a bright moon against a night sky. A black-and-white event brings to mind the glamour of Old Hollywood, art deco architecture and nostalgic fashion photography, all of which maintain their popularity as party themes because they are accessible for any budget.
When styling your own black-and-white celebration, start with the basics: a solid white, glossy black or checkered dance floor for big impact; cocktail or dinner tables dressed with white linens and black chairs; and black vases and accessories added to tabletops. To add drama, drape the space in black or carpet the tent in white. Extend the theme by suspending black chandeliers over dinner tables or black-and-white damask lampshades over the dance floor. Upholstered white sofas with black tufted chairs, black-and-white striped pillows and mirror-topped tables further enhance the design. Vertical striped chair covers are statements by themselves in an otherwise all-white tent landscape. A black-and-white scheme doesn’t have to be stiff and cold; it is best served with a personal flourish and a dash of whimsy.
Using only black and white works because the colors play off each other. Yet, the combination makes a spectacular backdrop, and any color placed against it is intensified. That color could be in the floral arrangements, on the dinner tables or in the pillows, furniture and lighting effects. For example, washes of purple light are the perfect backdrop to a whimsical black-and-white tent. The color theme won’t lose its relevance if you incorporate natural woods, live plants, sisal rugs and raw linens. Warm, textural elements will add an organic, approachable quality to the setting.
No matter how you design it, a black-and-white scheme will evoke a sense of style that transcends time. Simply look to classic black-and-white films or photographs to know that time goes by in color, but we remember it in black and white.