Minimalissimo


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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.


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.


Youjia Jin is a Chinese born London based fashion designer and fashion buyer specialising in womenswear. Inspired by anatomy, the designer’s impeccably tailored and purely coloured collections focus on menswear tailoring and the surreal body arts developed from anatomy. Due to my interest in human body structure, I’ve been exercising unisex pattern cutting on my womenswear collections in recent years. Youjia Jin has presented collections in London Fashion Week and Beijing Fashion Week, and been nominated One To Watch by Fashion Scout and more since graduating from the London College of Fashion, Centrail Saint Martins and the Beijing Institute of Fashion and Technology.


The immaculate design and high end fabric choice of womenswear label 1205’s SS 2015 collection won designer Paula Gerbase the catwalk sponsorship of British talent identification scheme, NEWGEN. The show not only presented the very considerate silhouettes of her latest collection, but also its textures: by placing blankets made of applied high-end fabrics on the press seats, Paula gave her audience the chance to actually feel the amazing touch of qualities such as High Twist Wool Grid, Technical Featherweight Silk, Pleated Polyester and more. It is stunning how the current 1205 collection combines very classic craft with cutting edge fabric construction while never becoming too earnest. The lightness of her designs is due to an amazing balance achieved by very precise tailoring of cuts that convey a rather relaxed approach towards life. Colors are primarily muted, with a focus on grey, blue and white. And even without laying hands on the fabrics, the textures, purposefully combined in every outfit, make me feel the amazing touch just by looking at it.


Poetic Lab’s Shadow Clock is an opposing composition of contractions. Subtle in size, when illuminated and in use, it transforms into a bold installation element. The Shadow Clock indicates the changing of time, through the use of light and reflection and refraction on the environmental issues to which it is installed; namely the wall. The pre-existing lighting therefore also plays a role in this expression of its function. London-based studio Poetic Lab, headed by Hanhsi Chen and Shikai Tseng, the collaboration has seen the joining of design philosophies, whereby the central spine of their design is that of poetry of objects and materials. Initially designed in 2012, this piece is 520mm high and 400mm in depth from the fixed surface, the Shadow Clock is made from Aluminium Alloy and stainless steel. Its interaction and dependency on its environment is particularly engaging. While the nod to the traditional sundial clock is obvious, this interpretation is very much welcomed. Photography courtesy of Poetic Lab.


String Series is a work in steel developed by the London based designer Dean Edmonds, with it also being an homage to the string chair. Without doubt, an interesting experiment that uses the resistance of the steel to create a minimalist and light chair design, contrasting with the appearance of the steel. The designer explains: By using an all steel construction the string has become a structural element, in turn, reducing the structure itself. Although at first brutal in appearance I hope to show the beauty and fragility that steel can possess much like the string of the chair that was at first the inspiration.


Let us have a look at COS. Thought up by the H&M group in 2007 and led by brand manager Marie Honda since 2011, the London based brand is keen to develop a tactile functional style that lives beyond the seasons. COS — which abbreviates Concept Of Style — proves that there is a chance for better quality and sophisticated silhouettes in the mass market. The Autumn/Winter 2014 looks also prove that the popularity of precise and sharp styling as well as elaborate photography has tremendously increased during the last seven years. The current collection itself is inspired by Patti Smith and Nick Cave, as well as the photographs of architect John Pawson.


Still life photographer Benedict Morgan‘s portfolio consists of pure, uncluttered product shots, set against simply lit backgrounds and boasting a clean, sharp finish that convey a style based on clarity, composure and a striking minimalist sensibility. Based in London, Morgan works predominantly in the fashion industry and has shot for clients such as Givenchy, Hermès and L.K.Bennett, as well as magazines such as British Esquire and Wonderland. My personal favourite is his Perfume series (featured image), highlighting the singularity of those classic bottles through mysterious and alluring lighting.


Madrid based contemporary art gallery Sabrina Amrani exhibited at the last Artissima art fair in Turin Waqas Khan, a talented Pakistani artist. After studying at the National College of Arts and graduating as a Bachelor of Fine Arts, his work has been exhibited in renowned international galleries. He trained in the traditional practice of miniature painting, inspired by Muslim, Hindu and Sufi traditions, but instead uses his skills to create drawings on a large scale. The process is almost architectural, like building something slowly, brick by brick. The bricks are dots, marks and lines, assembled with precision and delicacy into simple compositions. An idea of instability is told with abstract drawings, small circles spread with precision and freedom in geometric but unpredictable patterns. I like that. Some of these works have been recently acquired by prestigious institutions such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art and the Devi Foudation, New Delhi. Photography courtesy of Sabrina Amrani.


London based illustrator and designer, Thomas Danthony recently collaborated with Black Dragon press to create a beautifully minimalist series focused on Brutalism architecture in London. Inspired by their concrete beauty, Danthony has illustrated three of London’s most iconic buildings in all their Brutalist glory for a series of limited edition prints. The release consists of three six-colour A2 hand-pulled screenprints depicting the Royal College of Physicians, the National Theatre, and Trellick Tower, as well as an A4 concertina booklet featuring commentary from architect, critic and “Fuck Yeah Brutalism” curator, Michael Abrahamson. The series is available for purchase together or individually. Danthony successfully captures the essence of each of these Brutalist builds, beautifully highlighting their use of concrete.


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!