TECHNOLOGY

This is Why Young Instagrammers Believe White Is the New Black

A color trend, decoded.

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BY Ayse Birsel - 09 Oct 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

The Wall Street Journal says that white is the new black--or at least the new color of young Instagrammers. It's so "in" that many are even painting their walls white in search of likes.

What is it about the color white? Is this a trend or an intentional choice? From a design perspective, it might make sense--even if it's bland.

White is the safe choice

"To make their home interiors look better on Instagram and amass more followers, millennials and social-media mavens are painting their walls white," the WSJ wrote.

In Turkish we say, colors and tastes can't be argued. There's a Latin version, de gustibus non est disputandum. I learned this the hard way. When I had new products I designed for TOTO, the world's largest manufacturer of bathroom products, I painted a beautiful mermaid green and all people wanted to talk about was how wrong the color was. It threw a good bit of my research off track and I learned a lesson in design. White is the safest bet.

White creates a unified look

Trying to create a unified look on Instagram is quite the design problem. All those image squares taken at different times often come together to create a chaotic look. The current three image Instagram trend is one solution. The white wall is another. It is a simple trick that helps create a clean background that unifies a design-minded Instagram feed.

"The true beauty of white is that in its essence it is an open canvas....it is humble and highlights that which surrounds it. White is highly nuanced, most whites have an undertone which makes selecting the right white very important. We use white as backdrops in our own @lovegoodcolor Instagram feed to give our images breathing space, allowing you to draw connections and focus on the emotive power of color." -Laura Guido Clark, designer of color, material and texture of consumer products for companies like Herman Miller, Google, Samsung and Toyota.

White is the go-to-color of product photography

Take a look at Apple or Nike product photography. They're almost always photographed on a white background. White backgrounds don't call attention to themselves and mostly disappear, making the product the hero. Colors, forms, details in the foreground pop against the clean, white backdrop.

"...uptick in popularity of graphic prints and bright colored accessories that pair well against white backgrounds." WSJ

White is luminous

Try photographing something in a colored or patterned background. Then do the same thing in a white room. White rooms will look brighter, cleaner. White reflects light and creates a luminous glow that simply doesn't happen with a black or saturated color background which absorbs light. So if you're an amateur, like me, working with a phone camera, white becomes a practical choice.

There are also other practical considerations when you think of these young millennial instagrammers. White paint is plentiful, easy to find, inexpensive, and easy to repair or paint over.

So here is an Instagram formula for success I posit and you can test--paint the walls white, throw in the bold colored accessory, like a cherry red pillow or an orange carpet, and whether you're in the photo or not, don on your the little black dress--and click away.