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.


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!


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.