“White exists on the periphery of life. Bleached bones connect us to death, but the white of milk and eggs, for example, speaks to us of life.”
– Kenya Hara
We tend to commemorate the most beautiful places on earth with color. The blue roofs of Santorini, the deep greens of the Caribbean, the red brick apartments of London – our recollection of place is frequently more visual than unboundedly visceral. Yet, just as our mentality shifts, we too shift from street to street in a place like London, and our visual recollection becomes further muddied with the addition of blues and greens.
This is because color is a universal language. One that spans human emotion beyond any written or spoken words. Green, in its purest state, represents nature and beauty, or in its least benevolent state, money and greed. Blue represents confidence, or alternately, sadness. Red, love or hate. By nature, colors are used to create feeling or, depending on the day, interpreted by feeling. The beauty behind this language is that colors are ever evolving. Our mentality is what gives them meaning. This is perhaps the reason why we shift from an obsession of dark cherry cabinets in our kitchens to light maple cabinets in a matter of years, or even months. We all want to feel something. Color, by default, enables us to find then express our feelings.
There is one color that lays as an idle canvas for all others. One that plays nice with any counterpart. But a color that stands most boldly on its own: white. Scientifically speaking, white is equal parts red, green, and blue in the visible color spectrum (opposite the equal parts cyan, magenta, and yellow, which would make black). While it’s romantic to consider the harmony of three colors making something so seemingly absent of color, a more powerful consideration is the universal meaning of white. When you dive into the psychology of color, you find that white represents purity, innocence, and ultimately wholeness.
In the book White, by Kenya Hara, Mr. Hara claims, “White exists on the periphery of life. Bleached bones connect us to death, but the white of milk and eggs, for example, speaks to us of life.” His statement is true for many reasons, but in the conversation of place, we’ll speak to only a portion. “White exists on the periphery of life.” Just as we mentally mark places by color, there of course are no places that can be characterised by a single color. But in each of those places, on the periphery, you will find white. White walls, white signs, white snow. Sanctuaries of wholeness.