The office of Pasel Kuenzel Architects has recently completed this project, Urban Villa, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. In an almost utilitarian language, the residence is designed as stark and minimalist while the exterior and the details of the construction tell the story of what the house is about. The large 3300sf house is made of up 2 intersecting volumes – a horizontal for living spaces and a vertical for the more private office, bedrooms and a roof terrace. Using white painted raw timber boards made of Douglas fir that clad the exterior, the architects included large windows with black frames to punctuate the facade. The clean detailing of both the interior and exterior makes this project extremely elegant. My favorite part of this architecture is that all the white floors, ceilings and walls seamlessly define the space, leaving the texture of the exterior walls and grounds to reflect back through the large window walls, further emphasizing the personality of the building. Photography by Marcel van der Burg.
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Claus en Kaan Architecten’s White House, completed in 2006 is a standing minimalist beacon. The irony of its purpose and function seems to stand as a direct opposition to its aesthetic. It is instead, a building by the City Cleansing Department and Parks and Public Garden Department. I appreciate this reinterpretation of expected form into an otherwise unconsidered architectural response. Encompassing 6000sqm, the building plays with patterns of expectation, which is deliberately evoked by a highly aesthetic architectural gesture. It creates a field of tension between form and content by throwing into disarray at least the conventions of utilitarian simplicity and the appropriate application of luxurious architecture. This Amsterdam beauty stands bold and clean, although sunken into its terrain. The impression of a fake weightlessness is a further ironical feature in the unusual look of this everyday municipal depot. Claus en Kaan Architeten is to be applauded for their interpretive application of the minimalist discipline. Photography courtesy of Patrick van Dam.
Amsterdam based artist Berndnaut Smilde is known for his cloud installations. After the TIME magazine listed them as one of the Top 10 inventions of 2012, people’s fascination with Smilde’s work became widespread. The latest cloud installation, called Nimbus Green Room, took place this summer at the Veterans Building in downtown San Francisco. Here is how artist comments on this project: It’s not so much about the shape of the cloud but about placing it out of its natural context. It brings duality, because you can’t really grasp how to interpret the situation you are viewing. People have always had strong metaphysical connections to clouds as they symbolize the ominous. Even though the clouds look spontaneous, each takes meticulous preparation. The room has to have the right temperature and humidity for the effect to last several seconds. Probably the most fleeting installation in history, Numbus creates a profound impact. And each chosen room adds new context and atmosphere. Watch the film about the Nimbus project to see it in the making.
Joren Naerebout, a young and talented interior designer for the Amsterdam based Studio Bakker, recently shared with me his exquisitely handcrafted lighting fixture, .02 Luminaire. The frame is bent by hand in a steel mould. The luminaire carefully balances between the floor and the wall. The shape of the frame is designed to elevate and embrace the bulb and guide the wire. The material used for the slim, minimal frame is a blackened steel. This is a frame design that carefully considers the aesthetic impact of the wire, which results in the wire appearing as a seamless extension or continuation of the frame itself – an aspect of this floor lamp I really enjoy. It is available for purchase, however Naerebout must be currently contacted personally.
Amsterdam-based graphic designer and illustrator Tim Boelaars has a series of limited-edition screenprints based on his sets of icons for everyday use, printed as different colored posters of 18” x 24”. Tim has drawn a lot of attention to his unique iconography work, with an established technique of bold, geometric, monospaced line work that illustrates a range of whimsical yet quirky commonplace things (well, except for the weaponry series). While each and every object may not be absolutely minimalistic in their portrayal, the arrangement of the icons in a monochromatic, perfectly ordered and straightforward fashion is very elegantly simple. Photography by Tim Boelaars, featured image from The Noun Project.
I love the vibrant colored sleeves by reWrap. The sleeves are created according to the Cradle to Cradle principle. This means: 100% reusable materials, 100% renewable energy and 100% social production. The sleeves are made of felt (98%) and yarn (2%) and are fully biodegradable. To avoid unnecessary use of materials for the label, the logo is stamped into the sleeve, a nice detail. By time the logo will slowly fade. The makers expected the use time to be 5 years and after use your sleeve will turn into compost rather than waste. The sleeves – available for laptop, Macbook, iPad and iPhone – are sewn together in a small Amsterdam located workshop that provides employment to people with a handicap.
Based on the development of a self-organising, programmatic and rhizomatic design, Atelier Carvalho Bernau created this series of deceptively simple, geometric designs for Amsterdam-based publishing house Octavo. Briefed with the wish for a collection of cheaply published books that are functional, durable and beautiful objects, the designers approached this project with an awe-inspiring and thought-provoking methodology of research of both the physicality of books and of how their data could be used to make readable connections between the individual titles visible. The results are a design system in which each book is unique but relates to the others, so that what sits on the shelf is a visual continuum. Every book has its unique cover through a unique position on the map in relation with other publications, its colour scheme and placement of typography. No parameter is random, all data can be read: it is possible to understand that books with the same colour(s) bear some relation with each other; that the point to which the triangular areas point indicate yet another level of relation between the titles. Having had the opportunity to attend a conference in which they explained the entire process of their design research and systematic, I can say it was...
This beauty of an office was created by i29 architects for Tribal DDB Amsterdam, a digital marketing agency of approximately 80 people. And as it often happens with the creative workspaces – there were many contradictory aspects to consider. The space needed to be open enough to support collaborative exchange, yet quiet enough to provide privacy and allow concentration. The design had to be cool and playful, yet serious and professional at the same time. The solution came in the use of fabric. Designers explain: It is playful, and can make a powerful image on a conceptual level, it is perfect for absorbing sound and therefore it creates privacy in an open space. There is probably no other material which can be used on floors, ceiling, walls and to create pieces of furniture and lampshades then felt. It’s also durable, acoustic, fireproof and environment friendly. Felt also adds texture, balances out the monochromatic color scheme, and creates surfaces that are pleasant to the touch. It is amazing how many design questions can be answered with one well though out gesture.
Besides the great taste I also like the visual identity of Frozen Dutch, an Amsterdam based bio-enhanced ice cream brand. Mr. Boonstra created a fresh minimalistic identity with a direct Dutch approach focusing on the ice cream brand’s strongest assets: the appealing flavors that change with the seasons and the fresh ingredients each brings. Simple packages with bright colors and big typography and a clean website which gives you an overview of their flavor assortment. Frozen Dutch is on sale at Marqt (Amsterdam and Haarlem).
To be frank, I have never really taken the time to investigate minimalist music. But, with the World Minimal Music Festival coming to town, now is the time to check out the work of Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Michael Nyman and the likes. Ticket prices vary from € 18 to € 23. If you want to experience all 5 (!) days, there is a passe-partout available for € 130. If you are living anywhere close to Amsterdam or Eindhoven (both here in The Netherlands), let’s meet up and go together! Interested? Please comment. Update: To get you in the mood, 22Tracks has a set of minimal tracks.
With spring on its way here in Amsterdam, we open the doors to our gardens again, eager to sit outside in the sun. What better way to do just that than in a chaise longue? This lounge bed, Marilyn, was designed by Spanish architect Borja Abellán and designer Nacho Soler for a furniture contest. Abellán, who’ll soon be graduating from the University of Alicante, says that the central design concept came from Marilyn Monroe’s famous pleated skirt. When the chair is closed it is completely flat with straight lines, but when the back comes up, it has a gentle curve. All in all the result has a beautiful sculptural quality.
Loraine is an Amsterdam-based designer. She is prominently known for her minimalist styling, photography, and also for making beautiful fabric creations – even her packaging is very simple and stripped down to the basics. Her blog Grijs, with its very simple and clean design, is where she showcases her work, process and inspirations. Even her post titles are reduced to symbols and characters that reflect feelings and thoughts. For me, navigating her website is always a fresh, calming experience and the virtual equivalent of an open, airy, light-filled room.