Design: The Allure of Darth Vaderism

On Main Street and in SoHo, Americans are painting it black

Get brighter brights, whiter whites, and have a nice day, O.K.? No other people in history have placed a greater premium on sheer, sunny perkiness than mid-20th century Americans. In the objects they buy and make, that post-Puritan inclination has been expressed by splurges of color. From the jazz age onward, pop culture has gone polychrome in a big way: color, brilliant and various, has been almost obligatory in all things, from clothing to kitchen appliances to automobiles to furniture. What was not cotton-candy pink was smile-button yellow; if not sunset orange, then avocado green. Black, however, remained stricken from the...

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