Reflection in WHITE - the colour of the future

Fight climate change - in white! The research team at Purdue University in the US state of Indiana has developed a white colour that almost completely reflects the light of the sun. The researchers conducted outdoor measurements and found out that the colour can keep surfaces up to 10.5 °C cooler than the surroundings at night. It can also cool surfaces by a good 4 °C compared to the surroundings during midday hours. This also works in winter at an outside temperature of 6 °C, according to the results. The new white colour is the result of many years of research. In the 1970s, radiant cooling paints were analysed as an alternative to air conditioning. Ultra-white paints are usually made of calcium carbonate. For us, this means - bring on the nice cool colour that has always played an important role in nature. Albeit hidden.... .

Where can white be found in nature?

In Symes' well-known Nomenclature of Colour in 1821, he defines a wide range of white variants and assigns them to the colours of nature: Snow-white like the breast plumage of the laughing gull or the snowdrop, red-white like the egg of the common linnet, violet-white like the transition from neck to back of the kittiwake, yellow-white like the heron, orange-white like the breast plumage of the snowy owl, green-white like the cloacal feathers of the winter goldcrest, milk-white like the human eyeball or an opal, and grey-white like the inner wing feather of the kittiwake or the white grape. 

Red-white consists of snow-white with a tiny part of crimson and ash grey

(Source: Die Farben der Natur, Dumont Verlag) 

Grey-white is snow-white mixed with a little ash grey

(Source: The Colours of Nature, Dumont Verlag) 

White is far from being white. Nature knows many nuances.

Infinitely inspiring: white

This this is what the artists, who received great help from white,  say about the colour, especially at the beginning of the 20th century on their way to abstraction.  

For Kazimir Malevich, white is non-objectivity at its best - and at the same time, the colour corresponds to the ideal of a positively changing society. He formulated in 1919: "The white, free abyss, infinity lies before us."

For Wassily Kandinsky, the white surface symbolises a world in which all colours have disappeared. White, according to Kandinsky, "acts on our psyche as a great silence (...) which is not dead, but full of possibilities".

(Our reading tip and source: The White Abyss Infinity! Kandinsky, Malevich, Mondrian. Ed. Marion Ackermann. Catalogue book, K20 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf 2014).