Speaking of the notion of ‘suchness’ in his book Zen and the Brian, James H. Austin notes: In Japanese, the word ‘sono-mama’ had long implied that something could stand as it is, untouched. In Chinese, the expressions ‘Chi-mo’ or ‘Shi-mo’ were used to mean ‘just so’, or ‘so it is.’ I open with this quote to introduce Carl Andre’s sculpture of 1966, Equivalent VIII, which consists of of 120 fire bricks arranged as a rectangular prism on the floor of the gallery space. I would like to suggest—for I haven’t encountered it myself—a Zen Buddhist reading of Andre’s work, which would frame it as a presentation of things as they are, untouched. In David Batchelor’s book on Minimal Art, André is quoted as saying this about his work: The one thing I learned in my work is that to make the work I wanted to you couldn’t impose properties on materials, you have to reveal the properties of the material. And elsewhere, speaking of his sculpture: Their subject is matter. These quotes encapsulate for me what is offered by Andre’s work: the opportunity to encounter this sculpture as just bricks. Let it be so.
The Centro Interpretação is a cultural centre built by architecture studio Spaceworkers inside a nineteen-century schoolhouse in Paredes, Portugal. The purpose of the structure is to provide information to tourists and serve as a venue for exhibitions and educational events. The all-black insertion is comprised of two volumes – an auditorium and an information desk/store, separated by the space in between, also painted black. The shape of the new centre mirrors the geometry of the existing building, creating a dialogue between the two. Architect Rui Dinis explains: We wanted to preserve the identity of the place with our intervention. We didn’t want to lose the shape of the ceiling, so we chose to add a kind of replicating structure. The white creates the atmosphere, the black gives some form and the activities of the space will bring the other colours. Architects built a modern complex, that is respectful of the space it occupies, achieving beautiful synergy between the old and the new. Photography by Fernando Guerra
House J sits on a small, unassuming site in Yamaguchi, Japan. Situated in a busy residential neighborhood, House J provides a peaceful oasis for its residents. Designed by Keiko Maita Architect Office, this structure features three floors that revolve around an inner garden. A roof terrace offers additional outdoor space. House J is a thoughtful solution to common design challenges: lack of space and lack of privacy. By situating the rooms around an inner courtyard, the architects create an image of seclusion. The large windows and pragmatic use of square footage illude to a home much larger than its actual footprint. Overall, House J is a wonderful response to a bustling neighborhood in southern Japan.
Having previously been featured on Minimalissimo, thrilling us with his exceptional sound installations, Swiss artist Zimoun has returned with three new terrific pieces. It is one in particular that I would like to share with you however – 198 prepared DC-motors, wire isolated, cardboard boxes. Curated by CAN Neuchatel, this installation not only offers a beautiful minimalist aesthetic, but it also embodies some of the purest elements of contemporary culture – constant speed, constant noise and constant motion. In an obsessive display of simple and functional materials, these works articulate a tension between the orderly patterns of Modernism and the chaotic forces of life. Carrying an emotional depth, the acoustic hum of natural phenomena in Zimoun’s minimalist constructions, effortlessly reverberates. → Watch the 198 DC-motors video
Zofia Chylak is a Polish fashion designer who specializes in custom tailoring. Having honed her skills working for designers Ania Kuczyńska, Proenza Schouler and pattern maker Nicholas Caito, Zofia presents the aesthetics of her brand on an equally stunning campaign online. It was with great pleasure to learn that all her pieces are unique, each sketched and developed to the individual customer. Zofia’s ethos places emphasis on the quality of the garment. From the minimalist language of its designs to the use of natural fabrics such as silk, wool, cotton and leather, she campaigns the classically beautiful dress forms while allowing the details of the structure and finishings to stand out. I share Zofia’s belief that the wait for a custom design piece is the ultimate appreciation of good craft and design, in contrast to the disposable ‘fast fashion’ that is ubiquitous today. As she eloquently explains: I have always admired people who could create something beautiful using less than a lot… Elegance is not luxury, it’s understanding the rules of decorum. My main goal is to be able to create elegant clothes staying in the minimalistic world of forms.
I really do enjoy the work of the Swedish studio Claesson Koivisto Rune and the w126 lamp is one of their latest product designs for the fellow Swedish company Wästberg. Explaining the inspiration behind the lamp’s design, CKR writes: Historic industrial design icons such as the Starship Enterprise or the Citroën’s steering wheel were inspirational when designing the w126 uplighter. Admittedly two quite technical examples, but this is a lamp that demanded both highly advanced engineering and a bit of iconicity. It is available in a variety of colours, including white, grey and orange, and it has two different LED light sources, one up and one down, to create your desired ambience for each moment. Excellent!
Inspired by the shifting tectonic plates of the Bay Area, San Francisco-based, design studio Box Clever created Segment. The table’s top is made from custom 1/2″ thick concrete sections that form the structure. Between each section there is a narrow opening that continues down through the legs. The satin grey-blue colored steel frame emphasizes the lines of the channel cutting across the surface. These openings create a functional channel for a unique system of accessories and cord management. The set consists of a polished aluminum tray, a low copper dish and a brass bowl. Each object can be locked into the channel and gives the impression of floating above the table’s fractured surface. Segment meets the needs of modern lifestyle with a adaptable and versatile system of accessories and configurations that easily shift from work to leisure. Segment looks at how beauty and function can coexist and evolve from one scene to the next.
The String Lights installation, created by London based designer Michael Anastassiades for Italian brand Flos, was presented during Euroluche 2013 in Milan. Thin electrical cords, arranged into laconic shapes, held pendants, fitted with LED light sources. Here is how the designer describes his inspiration: Every time I take the train, I sit by the window and watch the series of perfectly parallel strings connecting the pylons, as we move at high speed. I love the way they divide the landscape and how spheres are occasionally beaded through the wires at random intervals. I also love how, in Mediterranean cultures, strings of lights are stretched between posts to mark an outdoor space for an evening party in a village square. And finally, I love how human ingenuity works around problems created by everyday things in the house (like switches and power points) that others have chosen to position where we don’t want them. I love how these delicate pensil-thin lines create the shapes our mind finishes and makes three-dimensional. Who ever said that the electrical cord is not a beautiful thing?
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas is a stunning piece of architecture by Tadao Ando. Ando’s work is influenced by the Japanese concept of Zen, which focuses on simplicity and inner peace. This museum stresses this concept through its simple form, connection with nature, and selective use of materials. The structure is made of concrete, steel, and glass, and is surrounded by a large reflecting pool. The minimal spaces in The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth allow plenty of room for sculpture, paintings, and people. With it’s thoughtful simplicity Ando’s museum enhances the art it contains, therefore enhancing the user’s overall experience. This building is everything a museum should be: pure, practical, and peaceful.
Martinez Lierah Spring Summer 2013 ready to wear collection is a muted fusion of black, nude and blue hues. Daniel Lierah and Arturo Martinez have transpired to create yet another timeless curation of modern lines, asymmetrical shapes and clean minimalism. The collection is suitably named Sardonicus and is inspired by facial muscle spasms. As a design team operating out of Paris, with Latin backgrounds, their philosophy is grounded on finding beauty in the odd. Their resulting collections seem to also strike the perfect balance between structure and fluidity. This Spring Summer 2013 collection is overtly feminine, despite the bordering austerity of its simplicity. This achievement through silhouettes is not an overlooked feat, taking ruthless dedication to perfecting these forms. The purposed clean cut of the fabrics, together with disciplined drapery and folding is incredibly beautiful. Martinez Lierah are to be applauded for such sobering handsome creativity.
Toronto based visual artist, Kal Mansur, specialises in solid acrylic sculpture. It is Mansur’s minimalist styled Pixels collection that I am delighted to share with you today. The Pixels bring to mind scaled-down architectural models. Empty spaces, walls and blocks are suggested, subtly visible through the semi-opaque acrylic. There is no point of entry, sealed completely on all six sides. The viewer gets just a hint of the interior as available light creates shadows, exposing voids. Created in 2010 and 2011, each piece is made up of solid acrylic, beautifully hand carved, featuring straight painted lines. All measuring 16 x 16 x 3 inches, it is certainly the dark canvas sculptures that I find most striking, particularly that entitled, Secrets.
London based team Studio Vit most recently exhibited their collection Globe Lights at the Milan Furniture Fair 2013. It consists of matt ceramic sphere reflectors and small globe pendants that can serve independently or together to cast light. The designers note: The collection explores how geometric volumes relate to each other and the juxtaposition of materials and light. I love the fact that with these Globe Lights, light can be adjusted and manipulated in however the user chooses to illuminate the space in a rather unique method. Its design and form is almost poetic in the contrast and the relationship, and the experience of it as revealed in these images really makes me wish I had the chance to see them in person. Images via Studio Vit.