Why did a supermarket, a space associated with hygiene, go for black?

Cologne – Supermarket interiors are invariably white and clean. Yet, if it won't escaped your notice, Solera is decked out in basic black. If Spanish design consultancy Masquespacio is believed, the project could mark the start of a new blueprint - or should I say blackprint - for retail interiors.

'We wanted to add some color to create emotion, without the overall design becoming childish,' said project art director Ana Hernández. 'Black was perfect for providing the 'serious' touch and forming an interesting contrast with the scheme's more vivid colors. A brighter color would have a visual disorder when combined with the wide range of packaging in the store.'

Perhaps even more surprising than the color itself, black is closely linked to the cash-and-carry superstore's Spanish product offering. It's just that instead of reinforcing an Iberian identity, Masquespacio wanted to reject any hint or national stereotypes. 'No Spanish flag or bulls - no way,' said Hernández. 'We're convinced that you can represent a culture to a wider public without resorting to the literal or the obvious, yet still remain recognizable.'

Black was perfect for creating an interesting contrast with the scheme's more vivid colors

Hints of the owner's Andalusian origins can be found in the awnings, the Mediterranean tiles and the greenery liberally sprinkled throughout the store. 'Plants were a priority for us, as they are part of the Mediterranean culture. Although the truth is that they were bought in Germany and are not the most Mediterranean options; it's pretty difficult to find a plant that can survive in Spain as well as in Germany.'

Which leads us to one final question: did Masquespacio ever consider white for Solera? 'White racks would have been possible, but we thought they would have given the venue a cheaper look.' To clinch the argument, Hernández pointed out that black has a distinct practical advantage: 'Black paint is less expensive and easier to find on the market.'


This piece was originally featured on  Frame  117. You can purchase a copy  here .

Location  Mathias-Brüggen-Straße 1, 50827 Cologne, Germany

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