Stein van Rossem’s London Tower Apartment in Antwerp is a deliberate and beautiful fusion of contrast. Comprised of rarely specified dark-coloured fixtures with a white-based palette, this apartment is sharp. The materiality and clean lines of the form work create clearly defined surfaces, spatial arrangements and flanking architectural moments. Brussels-based and with a completed portfolio of works throughout Europe, the Stein van Rossem studio is one of a consistent and strong minimalist authority. Although their work displays an obvious controlled restraint, there exists a delicateness to the connections and junctions between materials. There exists an almost obsessive thoughtfulness, which is by no means unappreciated. This London Tower Apartment is a beautiful muse for minimalism and pragmatism combining.
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In his review of 2009, Michael Johnson revisited these London 2012 Olympic Games concept posters by Alan Clarke. Although the official London 2012 identity, created by Wolff Olins, caused a huge stir on its release (no doubt the desired effect), opinions of the concept are very much polarised; and ever since the unveiling in 2007 there have been notable attempts to offer something more akin to Olt Aicher’s meisterwerk. Clarke’s idea, linking particular Olympic events with nearby tube stations, was enough to scoop ‘best in show’ at last year’s D&AD new blood exhibition. What with the impending ubiquity of the official branding, plastered on everything from cereal boxes to Adidas merchandise, these concepts are a tantalising insight into what could have been.
Oscar Diaz is a London based design studio working in the field of product design. Plain and playful, their designs take inspiration from everyday objects, which by a simple twist become something unexpected and beautiful. Oscar Diaz did exactly this with the Loop bottle opener, designed for American brand, FIELD. Loop is a bottle opener comprised of stainless steel designed as a tool and simplified to its essence, finished in a satin electropolish, and will open bottles for as long as you’re drinking them. A minimal, but perfectly functional and robust bottle opener with a timeless design. Photography courtesy of FIELD.
Plywood House is a distinct home refurbishment tucked among London’s traditional Victorian row homes. The exterior is comprised of brick and concrete punctured by single framed windows. These materials are splashed throughout the interior as well. Concrete and brick are wonderful raw materials that add visual interest inside and out. However, the most distinguishing feature of this home is its namesake: plywood. Plywood is one of the simplest yet most versatile construction materials. In Plywood House, it is used instead of sheetrock to form the walls and ceilings. The soft wood casts a warm light throughout the minimal interior. Designed by Simon Astridge Architecture Workshop, the living spaces of Plywood House are distributed across two stories. The first floor holds a cast concrete kitchen, dining, and living rooms. The master suite, structured entirely with plywood, fills the second story. I love when modest materials are allowed to take center stage. Plywood House creates a beautiful aesthetic from an often overlooked construction material. Perfect!
Clean lines, shadows and elusive humans come together on Geometrix, from London-based photographer Rupert Vandervell. The black and white photography of film-noir and B Movies are as important as the soundtrack in creating the, now celebrated, mysterious mood these pictures are known for. Paranoia-inducing characters and unexplained appearances are key factors, Vandervell plays off these elements gently, never as an explicit intention. On the other hand, urban landscapes offers calm and intangible contemplation opportunities. The selection of sites chosen to build this series are drawn by shadows and sharp concrete architecture, as well as the heavy contrast to expose each angle with great detail. Geometrix goes beyond the usual abstract architecture exercise, with a minimal hint of performance from the fleeting figures. Restraint in the right measure is hard to come by.
When one thinks of incorporating nature into one’s home, that thought often involves trees. However, Amsterdam-based studio Formafantasma by Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin has a different direction for that thought. Specializing in designs that fuse tradition and local culture, while regarding sustainability and the objects’ significance, their products incorporate the most unusual materials—such as the Fossilium series. Made from cooled lava rocks from the eruption of Mount Etna in November 2013, these volumetric sculptures are the work of a collaborative effort that involves special processes. While minimal in form, the porosity and grain of these products propose a complexity in material execution. The elegance of simple geometric silhouettes is highlighted with accents of brass against the monochromic base of the basalt colors. These tables and tools are a part of a greater collection that includes clocks, bowls, and mirrors that are available at Gallery Libby Sellers in London. I find a fascination in the loyalty of Formafantasma to their philosophy of locality. Not only they were able to produce an amazing array of minimal sculptural furnitures, the sustainability aspect of material transportation also speaks about the work ethics that created Fossilium.
London-based designer and British bone china specialist Richard Brendon has been developing a number of studio collaborations with Patternity, a specialist organization dedicated solely to pattern, the latest being a bone china collection with the British traditional luxury homeware shop Fortnum & Mason. Resulting from Brendon’s dream of rejuvenating and repositioning the British bone china industry, the collection warps perceptions of what bone china can look like, featuring a precise, pure geometric pattern in Fortnum & Mason’s signature delicate color Eau de Nil, and are available for purchase. Born from a drive to use pattern as a tool to inspire, explore and innovate, Patternity comprises a pattern research/consultancy department, a pioneering events and education hub, and an award-winning creative studio, frequently developing collaborations with designers on a number of different fashion, interior, and product design projects.
This small and minimalist timepiece by Korean studio Elevenplus encompasses 24 different timezones in its body. The trick is in the cylinder that allows you to view and switch between geographic locations in a single intuitive motion. Simply rotate the clock to put the desired timezone on top, and you will have the correct time. The designers explain: Let’s say someone living in New York wants to know the time in London. When it is 5:57 pm in New York, you can see that is is 10:57 pm in London if you roll the clock so that London appears on top. See the number on the clock to read the hour and the position of the minute hand to read the minutes. The hands of this world clock move independently from the rest of its body, so they quickly transition to any timezone. The piece comes in three colors: gray, blue and orange. Check out the video to see the clock in action.
This asymmetrical pen by London based studio Beyond Object, employs the intuitive desire of a human mind to align and organize things. The piece is composed of three sections. When not in use, the middle section is dislocated from the rest of the the body. To use it, twist this middle part until it aligns with the lower section. Designers explain: Simplicity, quality, function and innovation have been the central tenets during the design process throughout this project. The mechanism we designed for this pen is completely unique, yet intuitive and reliable. We wanted to transcend the classical twisting or clicking mechanisms by developing this precise and user friendly piece of engineering. The pen comes in two sizes and three finishes. Check out the video to see this design in action.
London based creative Josiah Jones created a compartmentalised tray in order to create the perfect formation for any given meal. The tray has 20 individual magnetised compartments that can be mixed and matched together. Jones initiated this project during his graduation year at Chelsea College of Art & Design. He wanted to investigate the idea that food fuels creativity; including what you eat, where you eat it and how you eat it. Creative professionals were invited for a social ‘work’ lunch and they could choose their ideal lunchtime meals. Lunch in exchange for their time, ideas and advice. Initiate relationships within the design industry. I really like the way you can play with the compartments and section off the different foods. The execution is also very impressive — geometric shaped nylon components and subtle integrated tiny magnets to connect the components with each other. I hope this tray will be taken into production, as I would be very interested in purchasing one.
You might be familiar with London-based photographer Bruno Drummond and set designer Gemma Tickle‘s work through their contribution to Printed Pages magazine’s spring 2014 edition, but the pair’s collaborations span many other playful projects. Very informed by a minimalist aesthetic, their collaborations often use graphic, formal arrangements, clean sharp angular lines, plain untextured surfaces, and as with Printed Pages, repeat the same elements again and again as a stylistic device. Continuing my on-going investigation about the process behind minimalistic work, Bruno shares with us that he wouldn’t necessarily describe their process as minimalist — It is often quiet elaborate, with ideas being discussed extensively but it does tend to result in a specific vision prior to shooting. A lot of the work is pre-visualised with ideas, materials, colours and lighting discussed in advance, although they always leave room for the unexpected, which isn’t surprising considering the joyful nature of their work. Unsurprisingly, their individual portfolios boast several other beautifully simple projects — head over to be further visually delighted!
Bottle Watch is a wonderfully minimalist, analogue wristwatch with raised nodules around its glass perimeter, similar to those found on the bottom of a glass beverage bottle. The watch was designed by London based studio Industrial Facility for Italian accessories company, Nava. The designers explain: We noticed that there are often exactly sixty of these nodules found on a typical beer bottle where the function is to avoid suction between the bottle and a table surface. This observation makes a useful correlation to the units of timekeeping and replicating these nodules creates a strikingly iridescent appearance when light hits its face at different angles. Bottle Watch is available in brown ale, green wine, clear spirit and blue water — colours that follow typical glass bottles. Although these colours don’t overly appeal to me, I do think this is a super concept.