I was inspired to look into Japanese minimalism this week after hearing Shohei Shigematsu of OMA speak a couple of days ago about some aspects of why Japanese architects design the way they do. We won’t go into these circumstances here today but we will have a look at a great project in Japan built back in 2008 by Takao Shiotsuka Atelier. Garden and Sea House was designed around the goal to view as much of its surrounding sea as possible. Shiotsuka implemented previously proven elements to maximize the experience such as expansive windows, transparency and translucency, edited materiality and of course, minimal color. The repetitive use of these elements used in intentionally large scale supports the entire experience. Although there are certain zones where one might prefer just a bit more privacy, Garden and Sea house somehow exudes beautiful sense of calmness, wouldn’t you say?
Archive of November 2011
Corter Leather is a small, one-man operation based in Boston, Massachusetts. Every leather product is 100% hand-made by maker Eric Heins. Whilst browsing the Corter website, I came across several designs, which I think have a minimalist approach to them. Devoid of typical branding and patterns, what stood out for me was the slim and functional Field Notes Sleeve, composed of vegetable tanned leather, which features a loop at the spine for holding your writing utensil. The natural Classic Bifold featuring seven pockets is a slim, no-nonsense wallet, which has been beautifully stitched. Another distinct piece, is the versatile Folded Bifold wallet with two pouches and inner flaps for extra storage. This piece only has one stitched seam and will darken to an attractive carmel with age. I have a lot of respect for this craft and with end results like this, they are so very tempting.
This beauty of a building is a nursing home, recently completed by Aires Mateus Architects in Alcácer do Sal, Portugal. Unlike the imagery our mind serves us when we think of a nursing home, this architectural ensemble is light, stylish, minimalist and airy. The building is very well articulated aesthetically, with the striking geometric shapes and the well thought out recesses, which provide shade for the occupants. Even though the structure is completely white, the effect of a checkerboard is created by the contrast between light and shadow. Rising and falling with the land, the building twists in the landscape and almost disappears into the hill at one end. The walking paths, surrounding the home, have different levels of steepness and take full advantage of the plot topography. The interiors of the nursing home follow the same minimal design as the exterior. The rooms for the elderly are made in all-white colour scheme, with light gray accents. Each unit has an individual balcony, secluded by the walls on both sides. This gives the residents access to the outdoors and provides solitude, needed just as much as social interaction. Photography by Fernando Guerra.
Known for his iconic designs for Joy Division and New Order record sleeves, Manchester-born Peter Saville became a pivotal figure in graphic design and style culture ever since his first work for Factory Records in the late 1970s. Encouraged by friend Malcolm Garrett from early on to discover the work of early modern movement typographers, Saville found their elegantly ordered aesthetic more appealing than the anarchic style of punk graphics and from them drew the inspiration for his first commercial project, the 1978 launch poster for The Factory nightclub in Manchester. When the club spawned the Factory Records label, Saville was named its art director and given unprecedented level of freedom to design whatever he wanted. His body of work features many experimentations with printing techniques and further on with digital tools, but Saville is well-known for his refined take on Modernism and has worked with notoriously minimalist brands such as Jil Sander and Raf Simons. He has also recently designed the English football team home shirt.
Los Angeles based design studio Otaat, directed by creative Albert Chu, have produced the stylish and minimalist Tromby Bag. When Albert contacted me after Minimalissimo previously featured the works of Otaat, to inform me of his latest design, I couldn’t resist sharing it with you all. The long tote bag features a body with two straps – one exterior & one interior, as well as a single inside pocket, which lines the complete interior. One can carry the Tromby Bag as an extra-long tote with a single opening, or as a medium-length tote with a divider making two pouches. Available in natural and black cotton canvas as well as Japanese indigo-dyed denim, this tote is so very practical.
Designed by Pierre Favresse, Jean is a small and minimal bubble of time, a dome of lightness struggling with weight, a 21st century digital tribute to the mechanical heaviness of Napoleonic clocks beneath bell jars. Edited by Super-ette, Jean is as precious as the symbolic values, which vary between contrasting functional and playful, light and solid, to maliciously mark our little daily rituals. Each clock is accomplished with a single blow and is as unique and variable as a small moment of life. Favresse says: Time and life are inextricably linked – we feel time pressures in our daily lives and wish we had more time; our time on this earth is limited and dictated by a clicking clock… Time therefore is something powerful yet fragile, which is why I wanted to encase it in a delicate white cloud of glass.
Surface table and chair collection is a combined effort of two giants, one from the world of furniture design and one from the world of Formula One racing car design. Terence Woodgate and John Barnard teamed up to create this innovative table for British manufacturer Established & Sons, and after the success of the project added a chair to it. Both pieces are made from the same layered carbon fibre material John Barnard famously introduced for the McLaren Formula One car chassis in 1981. Thanks to the lightweight durability of the material, the table can span 3 meters while remaining super thin (the piece has a thickness of just 2mm at the edge). The Surface chair follows the same trait of delicate form and supreme structural integrity. Its paper-thin seat can withstand even the heaviest occupant. Both Surface items come in black. The table also comes in walnut veneer.
Korean architect Eun Young Yi was declared the competition winner in 1999 for the new central library of the city of Stuttgart from 235 competition entries. The opening ceremony took place recently after three years under construction and a 80-million Euro budget. The building is essentially a white cube with two underground floors and nine above. The main library floors circle an open-plan design, which are connected through open staircases, and the books are stored mainly in racks mounted to the walls. I really like the striking first impression of the large white interior with the great luminosity and the range of colours from the many book covers in the racks.
Industrial designers John Van Den Nieuwenhuizen from Australia and Vitor Santa Maria from Brazil have collaborated to design the HiddenRadio, which is currently being funded through Kickstarter. Their approach to their work is simple product design that is both innovative and intuitive. The minimal HiddenRadio & Bluetooth Speaker design connects and captivates the user through its intuitive functionality. When asleep it hides all its functions. To turn it on you simply twist and lift the cap. The further you lift the cap the more internal volume is created and will amplify to over 80dB of crystal clear sound. Although it offers Bluetooth technology, if you don’t have a Bluetooth device, a 3.5mm audio input plug is available. The battery life is also an impressive feature, offering over 30 hours of power. A beautiful, unobtrusive and simple device, which I think is well worth backing.
Now the cold has set in in Europe I long for the warmth of a wood fire. And what is better to chop your own wood for the fireplace? The minimal, portable and razor sharp Hudson Bay Axe by Best Made Company will help you get the job done easily. The axe is very versatile as it combines the strengths of a larger axe for chopping and the finesse of a smaller axe for delicate work. I love the combination of the sharpened head of carbon steel and the unfinished helve of Appalachian hickory. An honest tool made of honest materials!
Japanese artist Kumi Yamashita (1968) is known for creating realistic imagery from invisible sources. Her shadow art has earned Yamashita international recognition with works appearing in such venues as Seattle Art Museum, Boise Art Museum, Yerba Buena Centre, San Francisco, the Esplanade in Singapore, Hillside Gallery in Tokyo and the Kent Gallery in New York. The pieces are comprised of ordinary everyday things and a single light source, which brings these objects to life. Alphabets and building blocks, scattered across the wall, become realistic human figures, coloured resin plates give shape to facial silhouettes, and credit card imprints create portraits. Yamashita’s precision is staggering. It is amazing to see how these sophisticated, coherent and very detailed images have been originated. These works are exhaustively complex in execution and yet manage to remain simple and minimal to the eye. Kumi Yamashita will be having solo exhibitions at the Sato Museum, Tokyo and the Dillon Gallery, New York in 2012.
This week, Japanese design studio Plus Minus Zero (±0) who produce household electrical goods and household items, released their latest product – the Mini Ceramic Fan Heater. Last year Minimalissimo featured their original fan heater, however the mini version is of course smaller, thinner (H210 x W105 x D148mm), lighter (1.2kg) and less expensive. Available in three colours – red, brown and blue, the Mini Ceramic Fan Heater appears to offer an undeniable simplicity and subtlety, even more so than its predecessor. How functionally effective this heater is though, I’d like to experience.