Character is a Finnish company that recycles old neon signs, created by designer Aleksi Hautamäki. Their process consists in choosing the most stylish letters and turning them into individual and unique design objects, and their sustainability is further enhanced by replacing the neon tubes with LEDs. They add a transformer, install a power cord and off the letters go with a new life cycle. You can even buy one online. Neon signs have this capacity to attract and focus one’s attention, stripping away their surroundings – a single neon letter enhances that effect even more so. In these installations photographed by Johan Warden, they become minimalist beacons, softly illuminating unexpected new spaces.
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Renowned Lunetier Lionel Sonkes whose store on a small street in Brussels had commissioned Nicolas Schuybroek Architects with Marc Merckx Interiors to completely refurbish and rethink the existing shop, atelier and facade, in a warm, minimal and elegant volume. For over 20 years, Sonkes has been selling imported high-end glasses as well as custom made ones. Recognized as the Belgian equivalent of Maison Bonnet in Paris, the retail architecture by the design team had to reflect that reputation. What this optical store lacked in physical footprint was made up in its luxurious interiors. All the custom-made furniture and simple facade was designed with respect to the sleek minimalist character of the store. What I love most about this project is that instead of displaying an overwhelming variety of product, Sonkes Lunetterie has let the interior architecture speak for the atelier. The best examples executed here are the subtle volumes for merchandising, beautifully designed into wall niches, black metal framed vitrines and Carrara marble pedestals. The grey veins of the marble compliment the grey/white brushed oak wall panels and chevron-laid reclaimed oak floors, tying into the overall elegant and minimal architecture. Photography by ©CAFEINE/Thomas De Bruyne for NSArchitects and images courtesy of Nicolas Schuybroek Architects.
The fine jewelry of Poland-based Agata Bieleń is easily recognized by its subtle geometrical lines and lightweight elegance. Encouraged by a friendly conversion with Scott Schumann — the man behind The Sartorialist — convincing her to do in her life what she really loves, she made sure to focus on her very own vision of design: The main inspiration for my work is the straight line. The most basic unit of geometry found in space. With this inspriation in mind, Agata created her latest collection by the name of SNOW QUEEN for pre-spring 2014. The collection is characterized by asymmetrical compositions of nature-like shapes — like twigs, branches and tree stems — while at the same time keeping the unit of a straight line as a basis. I love Agata’s clear vision, her minimalistic approach and the way she manages to always keep a touch of femininity to her delightfully raw designs.
Recently opened to the public is the Infinity Bamboo Forest, a spectacular passage in a public annex building located in Wuxi, China. The installation is a reference to the traditional Japanese culture with its characteristic bamboo forests, and from the beginning experienced limitations of space, time and budget. So the result cannot be more magnificent, developing a passage of twenty meters as an infinity bamboo forest essentially using a combination of light and mirrors. The design of the installation was conceived by Prism Design, a Shanghai-based architecture and design studio, founded in 2009 by Tomohiro Katsuki.
Hai Lien is a make up artist currently based in China, where she runs a make up academy. Her work covers skin care and colour make up and in order to initiate the wide market in the region into the true beauty of make up in a more effective manner as well as hand down her secret method, she has decided to launch her own cosmetics range in China — Hai Lien CC Cream. The design of the branding and packaging of Hai Lien’s new cosmetics line is by minimalist, a boutique design studio based in Gangnam, Seoul, Korea. Their philosophy in design is one I am certainly familiar with and one that most certainly applies to Hai Lien’s branding: We believe good designs can be achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. For this project, the designer’s explain some design characteristics: The distinctive staircase patterns are the motive of Hai Lien’s professionalism, and the classy black and white colour scheme will differentiate the range from showy colour scheme of its competitors on the shelf. From the minimalist aesthetic of the bottle, the type design of the logo, to...
This sleek home is located on a sandy site in Comporta, Portugal. Designed by RRJ Arquitectos, this structure meets the needs of living in a harsh environment. Sun protection is a main concern in the scheme of House in Comporta. The single story home sits low on the site, maximizing coolness and minimizing sun exposure. The thick, concrete walls guard the home from the sun at the most vulnerable points. All the windows are recessed in the facade for extra shade during the brightest parts of the day. Clean lines, white walls, and hardwood floors are featured on the interior. I love how this home merges perfectly with its environment. The concrete facade appears to emerge directly from the sandy floor. The home is also sized so as to enhance the view of the trees and sky, rather than distract from them. House in Comporta is a perfect example of a structure inspired by the unique characteristics of its site. Photographs by FG + SG Fotografia de Arquitectura.
Some months ago Moving Brands designed a new identity for Blank Digital, a New York-based boutique retouching and digital capture company. Blank were seeking a more effective strategy in order to help establish relationships with the top luxury, fashion and media businesses of the world. Moving Brands explains the design: We defined their brand narrative as ‘realizing image potential’ – an ambitious stance that focuses on the real business benefit they offer. The monochromatic identity system has an attitude and an edginess to appeal to their high-fashion audience. The mark references Blank’s own editing process; it appears to be at the point of mid-creation, but still elegant. The soft colour palette and typeface nod to the family-focused values and love of tailored, crafted elements, and characteristics of the business that were often referenced in workshops with the Blank founders. Most importantly, the system provides a sophisticated, flexible foundation from which their own work can shine. A wonderful piece of work, from the physical to the digital media, that set a guide for all applications of the brand, being a perfect mix between sophistication, simplicity and neutrality.
Factory Building on the Vitra Campus is the result of incredible work by the Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, who founded the studio SANAA almost 20 years ago, and won the Pritzker prize in 2010. The single circular factory is used by Vitrashop, a shop fitting company within the Vitra Group. Its interesting shape is explained: This proposal, which at first seemed unusual, was based on the realization that logistics and production methods no longer adhere to strictly hierarchical principles, but require flexibility. This was especially true in the case of the future occupants of the new facility. The circular footprint of the building permits the delivery and loading of goods in completely different locations, so that the flow of traffic inside the hall is reduced, optimized and simplified. The factory is more than 160 metres in diameter and reaches 11.4 metres in height, with a singular and characteristic facade, made of acrylic glass with three wave patterns on the surface to avoid a visual repetition, seeming infinite and homogeneous.
These beautiful semi-wrinkle washi lamps have been designed by the famed Nendo for Taniguchi Aoya Washi, a traditional Japanese paper company. It is known for creating seamless washi paper, that looks and feels like plastic or glass. For this particular project, however, the technique has been modified in order to create a wrinkle effect. The designers explain: Adding devils tongue (konnyaku) to the mixture creates wrinkles that bring out the special characteristics of paper, but this process also conceals the fact that the forms are made with the traditional technique. After running into this problem, we decided to take the best of both worlds: to create lighting fixtures that are only half-formed with the wrinkle process. The wrinkles can be applied gradually so that the two different effects come together seamlessly. I love the delicate, almost fragile feel of these designs. The wrinkles look unintentional, as if they have happened by chance. A visual simplicity that took a lot of calculating and craftsmanship to achieve.
151E is a shop based in Fukuoka dedicated to Japan’s finest teas. The name is written in alpha-numeric characters, but is pronounced ichi-go ichi-e (一期一会), which is actually a Japanese phrase nearly impossible to translate for its multiple roots and interpretations. However, the term can be used to encourage one to cherish a once in a lifetime moment, or perhaps a cup of tea, in the tradition of tea ceremonies which are always of significance in Japanese culture. 151E opened in Fukuoka in October 2013 and boasts the finest varieties of teas from the Kyushu region. In typical Japanese fashion, the shop features an elegant interior with clean, raw materials and showcases an beautiful range of minimalist packaging for each tea.
It think that the project of the award-winning Japanese architect Tadao Ando for Tom Ford’s ranch could not be more beautiful, with its modern, clean and minimalist lines and shapes throughout as well as the detail of the construction. The plain concrete walls are maybe the most characteristic of the project with the abrupt contrast of light, as well as the road on the small lake. It is located outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and has almost 100,000 square meter, being perfectly integrated with the arid lands of the state due to a rustic palette of colors.
Casa V is a redevelopment project by architecture team Dosis de Arquitectura of an existing house that was constructed in the early 1960s. A stunning volume of curved walls and stark white embody this holiday home for the owners for half a century. As the years went by, the growth of the family could not be contained in the original house hence the work to adapt and expand on the multi-generation, multi-purpose building. Casa V was already located on a breathtaking site in La Coruña, Spain. The structure is reminiscent of Corbusier’s nom de plume: A house is a machine for living in. Form follows function - it exists to serve its purpose of facilitating activities within and to experience the views of the landscape. The present architects have continued the legacy as they so eloquently describe it: Spaces are defined by the unfolding of matter in space-time, which topologically adapts itself to what happens inside. The new house is formalized by the continuous flow of a completely neutral wrap – no edges, no color, no texture – and, within this wrapping, life, action, is the protagonist. Dosis de Arquitectura have aligned the design language – the characteristics of the wrap and typography of the architecture - with...