How Designers Would Use the Blackest Black Ever Created

Vantablack is the darkest man-made substance ever created, and top designers can't wait to get their hands on it.

By: Ryan Reed

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Imagine a color — or the absence of color, in this case — that's so dark that when applied, it appears to flatten 3-D objects and turn them into miniature black holes. Such a visually stunning hue would open a world of possibilities for designers who currently only have various finishes of black to choose from if they want to add the timeless color to a space. Thanks to a recent discovery, though, a new kind of black may find its way into designer's hands one day soon.

Vantablack is the world's darkest man-made substance.


Vantablack is the world's darkest man-made substance.

Photo by: Surrey NanoSystems

Surrey NanoSystems

Created by Surrey NanoSystems in 2014, Vantablack, which is not a color but a collection of millions of carbon nanotubes, is recognized by Guinness World Records as the world's darkest man-made substance, reflecting only .036 percent of the light that strikes it. It's a remarkable scientific accomplishment that researchers have continued to develop and make even darker (if you can believe that). There's an updated version of the original Vantablack that's so black that light seems to disappear when it hits the surface.

Scientists have also developed a version of Vantablack called S-VIS that can be applied via spray, leading some to call it the world's blackest paint. It's not as dark as the original, but it's still manufactured from carbon nanotubes and achieves the unique 3-D flattening effect. Despite the spray application, S-VIS is not available to the public, as it requires a complex post-process to achieve the finished look. There's a non-nanotube version called VBx1 (shown below), and it's more tolerant than other versions but as of now, it's unreleased.

A scientist holding a 3D object coated in Vantablack paint.


A scientist holding a 3D object coated in Vantablack paint.

Photo by: Surrey NanoSystems

Surrey NanoSystems

Vantablack is so dark that when applied, it appears to flatten a 3D object.


Vantablack is so dark that when applied, it appears to flatten a 3D object.

Photo by: Surrey NanoSystems

Surrey NanoSystems

While Vantablack may be better suited for outer space than your living room right now, it's clear this material has broad appeal and could reach multiple industries in our lifetime. With that in mind, I reached out to several designers known for their modern aesthetic and use of the color black to see how they would use Vantablack. Like contestants on Food Network's Chopped, these designers had to think fast and come up with their best and most innovative use of Vantablack. Here's what they had to say:

Phara Queen / Phara Queen Design

"This product would be fun to use on the floor in a game room, playroom or even an entryway. It would give the space an “Alice down the rabbit hole” effect. By painting a random checkboard on the floor, people will stop and wonder if they step on the black square will they just keep falling through the floor? A real conversation starter, for sure!"

Caitlin Murray / Black Lacquer Design

"As a company that stokes the power of black in design, we could easily be tempted to go overboard experimenting with Vantablack as a finish; however, I think it would be most refined in small doses to punctuate seamless silhouettes. I would love to use it to finish a sleek, contemporary frame to a circular mirror. Contrasting the light-absorbent Vantablack frame with a bright, reflecting mirror would provide a striking and unexpected conversation piece, producing a dream-like effect with the mirror appearing to float."

Nicole White Quinn / Nicole White Designs Interiors

"Aww, what a thrill it would be to have this blackest of black for a master bedroom retreat. I love the moody and sexy feel of black paint in a bedroom, and with a matte finish that would absorb light, it will be the perfect space to retreat to every night to soothe away the worries of the world. I'd paint all molding details — baseboards, crown moldings and trims — in black as well with just a hint of sheen for contrast. A white tufted headboard with black nailhead details would add just enough light to the room to truly showcase the color of the walls. I'd finish it off with a bit of bling with an Odeon-style chandelier, then I'd never leave because it'd be my master suite!"

Laura Knight-Keating / Lauren Rubin Architecture

"Vantablack is amazing. It creates depth and almost looks like what I would expect infinity to look like. We would use the Vantablack on the ceilings of industrial spaces, like a gym or bar, where the ceilings need to disappear and feel limitless. We would also use it on walls where we would layer it with graffiti art, interesting wall stickers or layers of bright paint. It would almost create a 3-D effect to the colors and images on top. We almost feel like the color could go on forever!"

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