Beyond the Basics: Designing in Black and White

By Betsy Riley, editor-in-chief of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME

Learn designer secrets to using these classic colors and get an advance peek at our all black-and-white winter issue by joining me at AmericasMart on Thursday, November 10 for Design +Dine.


I’ve looked forward to our winter “Black & White” issue for nearly a year now. The seed was planted in 2015 when Sherwin-Williams announced the creation of “Portman White,” a color named for Atlanta’s starchitect, John C. Portman, Jr., who is known for using his signature color in projects around the world. To celebrate, Americasmart created its first Vignette Gallery at their 2015 July market, featuring seven acclaimed interior designers: Brian Patrick Flynn, Michelle Workman, Stan Topol, Michel Boyd, Niki Papadopoulosand Kerry Howard. Not long afterwards, Benjamin Moore announced that its color of the year for 2016 would be “Simply White.” Clearly, white was having a moment.

Then we noticed that several of the homes we planned to feature in 2016 had strong black-and-white elements. We thought, why not combine them all into one issue? Then came, why not devote our winter “color” issue to black and white? As the year went on, we collected more monochromatic ideas, and it was fun to finally weave them into our first themed issue. Of course, no sooner had we sent the pages to the printer than we received House Beautiful’s November issue devoted to blue and white; but, for the record, we had already shipped.

In another happy coincidence, we also realized that winter 2016 is the fiftieth anniversary of Truman Capote’s famous Black and White Ball. I couldn’t resist revisiting the epic event, so it became the subject of my editor’s note. Here’s a short excerpt: “Inspired by the black-and-white costumes of My Fair Lady’s precisely choreographed Ascot race scene, Capote decreed that his guests must wear either black or white, plus masks that would be removed at midnight. The invitation list—later published in its entirety by the New York Times—comprised an unlikely mix of power brokers from the worlds of art, entertainment, politics, and business, including luminaries such as Frank Sinatra, Norman Mailer, C. Z. Guest, Sargent and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Henry Ford II, the Maharaja and Maharani of Jaipur, and photographer Gordon Parks, who joked that he (along with Ralph and Fanny Ellison) were the black in the Black and White Ball.”

So it feels like we’ve come full circle to release the first advance peek at our winter issue at AmericasMart, founded by Portman himself. We’ve invited designers Sherry Hart and Nina Nash, who are featured in the issue, along with rising star Jason Mitchell, to talk about how to integrate these versatile hues into your design schemes. If our planning meeting is any indication, this promises to be a fun, lively conversation; so R.S.V.P. to join us for Design + Dine this Thursday.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s