Minimalissimo


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Minimalist design has been highly influenced by Japanese traditional design and architecture. British minimalist architect John Pawson has designed a ribbon to support the disaster relief effort, following the earthquake and tsunami, earlier this month. Electronic version of the design is available to download for attachment to websites and emails. A donation can be made online. I would like to express my love, respect and admiration to the Japanese population. Stay strong!


Exhibited at this year’s Milan Design week this beautiful and minimalist collection of shelves and tables is designed by Japanese studio Nendo for Glas Italia. Slide is a collection that includes two shelving units, a counter unit and a pair of small side tables that express a “slide” of position by focusing on the technology that bonds glass to glass. One black sheet of glass is bonded in a way that it has slid from its original position. Nendo comments: The shelves are particularly challenging to develop, since the black glass that is sticking out has to be attached to a transparent glass using an extremely small area of the cross-section. The same materials are used for the cuboid tables, which have tops shifted away from their dark bases in a similar way. The tables look as though the surface on top of the black box has been opened in a slightly slid position. Extremely simple. I love the glass, which is a radical and pure material and the Slide collection interprets these characteristics perfectly. Photography by Kenichi Sonehara.


AÃRK Collective’s timepiece range is a fusion of tradition and precision. Each piece uses Swiss and Japanese Quartz movements and hand-dipped casings and soft Horween leather straps. The Eclipse is the epitome of this balance and discipline. Inspired by time and the duality of night and day through the dual-tones of materiality and formal placement. The simple, contrasting dial evokes the moon’s movement in relation to the earth and the sun. Based in Melbourne, Australia, AÃRK Collective sees a collaboration of four creative aligned by family and a love of design. Emphasizing the need for quality and considered pieces has meant the resulting design is the uncomplicated and imbues minimalism. There is a simplicity in the undoing, and the careful placement of elements coming together. AÃRK Collective put as much thought into the parts that most people won’t see, and the result is beautiful. Photography courtesy AÃRK Collective.


Mifune Design Studio’s Y-Hangers piece sits as a light-weight functional sculpture. The single-framed metal arm bends to create multiple hanging locations vertically. The hangers themselves are also designed, specifically, for loading the coat rack with numerous items, seamlessly, and consistently. And when not in use, the hangers sit flat, aligned with the metal, painted base. The overall result is one of clear thin lines that quietly add to a space, without dominating it. Which is beautiful. Mifune is headed by Yasutoshi Mifune, who was born in Tattori and now resides in Osaka where the studio is located. He acquired knowledge about design through self-education while working at a few architectural design offices and interior design companies. Following this, he set up his own studio that encompasses design that is true to Japanese design with regard to beauty and spirituality. Photography courtesy of Mifune Design Studio.


Japanese design firm Nendo is not only brilliant at creating beautiful products in any medium, but they are also good at getting featured on Minimalissimo. As a collaboration with Italian furniture maker Glas Italia, Nendo has created a series of three frosted glass tables for this year’s furniture fair in Milan. Although the description might sound simple, the overall aesthetic is much more complex due to the gradient hues of these tables’ edges. During the process of making these sculptural objects, bright strips of colors were applied onto the outer rims of each frosted panel, giving a visuality of neon tubes running along the seams of the cubes. Nendo lets us know: What is more, the reverse side of the frosted glass was printed with a pattern to make it look as though the same colors were blurred on the glass surface. That explains the name Soft. The dialogue between the pattern and the edge’s gradient is cleverly tailored to illusorily imply that these tables are glowing softly from the inside. One of the things that I absolutely love about Nendo is their design philosophy which challenges the way that we understand materials. By minimally designing and tweaking small elements...


The Cozy House, located in a populated residential area of Japan’s Shiga prefecture is an interesting and strategic architectural project developed by Japanese architect Kouichi Kimura, founder of local firm FORM. This beautiful grey house is built on one of the small sites crowded with houses and surrounded by narrow roads. With these conditions, the architect designed a compact house that includes enriched inner spaces with strategically placed windows to create privacy for residents. A great solution. In small houses I like to see custom furniture that delimits and emphasises the space throughout. In Cozy House, furniture is integrated into the architecture, including a padded bench set into the back of the balustrade. A long concrete bench runs along the front of the dark wooden wall, providing a storage area. These solutions make the project very elegant and functional. The architect explains: The comfortableness, which is produced by the small space and would hardly be realised by a broad space, was my major fascination of this house. A small and intimate house with a beautiful simplicity. Photography courtesy of Kimikazu Tomizawa.


Ando Corporation’s Rooms project is a submerged Japanese house set into hillside, peaking out over the ocean. This minimalist series of volumes that all seem to play cooperatively together in the landscape, are a stark and beautiful contrast to the coastal terrain. At nearing 290 sqm, Rooms is a modest nod to the Japanese lifestyle; discreet, contained and respectful. Each volume of white plaster seems to come together seamlessly through a series of walkways and terraces, to create this unassuming sanctuary, nestled in the sloping elevation. The site’s location is optimally primed to maximize on the incredible Pacific Oceanic aspect. Fenestration is purposely restrained to not be full-height, to frame views and to leave some of the unknown, unknown. Set in Wakayama, Japan the clean white plastered forms contrast the natural site, while playful formal landscape geometry engages in nuances and details throughout. Rooms is the epitome of what residential dwellings should aspire to be, a sanctuary; a closing of the door to the chaos, and an opening to the beyond (in this case, the limitlessness of the ocean beyond). Ando Corporation has created an incredible example of reflective architecture, celebrating minimalism. Photography courtesy of Kimikazu Tomizawa.


Located in Abiko, part of Chiba prefecture, stands a fractal-like structure completely alien to its surrounding premises. A modern and futuristic white residential building, designed by Japanese architecture firm fuse-atelier, graces the neighborhood with a sense of drama and originality. The building boasts beautiful large glass panels on both extremities, albeit hiding inside a striking concrete monocoque and panels from passers-by. The living room sets the tone for the rest of the house, an obligatory passage way and link throughout every ambient. It’s interesting to note the modular-like quality the project defines every function, from the kitchen to the bedrooms. The sense of perception and depth is toyed with on this modernist project, presenting an aesthetic parallel to German Expressionists set designs in movies. The theatrical strength of the concrete walls are clear, with unusual angles and shadows drawn all through the day. The gallery stands tall and absolute as a firm minimalist presence, even if future owners take the interior design to a rustic or traditional style. It sets the mind at ease knowing the owners are more than satisfied with sharp contemporary design to furnish it. This house is in good hands. Photography by Shigeru Fuse.


Simple and straightforward projects are the solution for crowded work environments, such as the usual chaotic and busy beauty parlour. Japanese architect Hiroyuki Miyake took on the challenge to design TROOVE — a space fit for one lone stylist to take care of his salon, with all the benefits a minimalist space can bring to the daily hustle and effortless style for the clientèle to enjoy. Building upon a concrete structure, Miyake makes good use of Japanese oak to endow the salon and map out each space to its function. The charming reception and waiting room; the main styling room and the shampoo booth; each one cleverly distinct from one another. Kudos to the beautiful folding screen made in galvanized iron, inserting lightness into a big visual feature. Since the 2011 earthquake, several power saving policies were put into practice, directly altering the daily life and perception of darkness and how much it is necessary to live by. The archetypal Japanese paper lamps plays a remarkable role as the gatekeepers of this charming salon. The shadow play and well defined light project spread throughout is symbolic of smart adaptation to a new reality and, remarkably, a nod to the past.


Poster is an interesting new project developed by the Japanese studio YOY. It is a series of minimalistic wall lamps that appear as a basic A2-sized poster — a great example of simple and smart design with few elements and an abundance of creativity. The shape of the lamp shade is created in the middle of a sheet of paper with several cuts, to fix to a wall with tape or pins like a poster. The lamp also features a small LED light that is hidden beneath the paper. The final result is quite incredible, whether on white or black, and the ability to print various colours and patterns can onto the surface is an added bonus.


GOBLANK is an independent design label established in 2013 by Meerim Kim. A sombre appearance in its all black répertoire, the 2015 Spring Summer collection is partly influenced by Japanese avant-garde designers. Its lithe, feminine forms of bell sleeve tops and cocoon coats; 60s mod and bat-winged dresses; A-line and accordion skirts are all familiar yet the inherent beauty of GOBLANK’s story lies in the details that sit quietly in the folds, layers and silhouettes of the entirely black collection. When asked about her inspiration behind the brand and the collection, the Seoul-based designer shared in a heavy yet beautiful realization of her own mortality upon turning 30 years of age. It is a manifestation of all the emotions Meerim experienced in isolating herself from her feelings:  the fear comes from becoming an adult, every process of life and death, the feeling that wants to disappear and the emptiness. Basically my looks are simple, have not much details but they have dark and heavy atmosphere with only a few lines. It’s about a square and the compositions of a square, in some way they comfort me. The idea that minimalism as an expression can be a providence that relieves and reassures through design is what makes this brand and collection so poignant and beautiful.


With a penchant for honest, aesthetic, clean and tactile design, Tokyo based designer Kazushige Miyake is no stranger to Minimalissimo, and towards the end of last year designed an air purifier for Japanese company Muji. Featuring a dual counter fan and 360°dust collection and deodorizing filter, this air purifier quickly removes matter suspended in the air. The outer casing of the product has a cylindrical shape in line with that of the filter. Air is drawn in from around the air purifier and clean air is emitted from the top of the device. Less junk in the air means more oxygen to breathe. The smart cylindrical design, not dissimilar to Apple’s Mac Pro, is sleek, simple and discreet, shying away from the typical bulky and unnatractive purifier appliances. Lovely work. Photography courtesy of Muji and Goichi Kondo.