Hemsley London is a young English fashion brand that specializes in leather goods founded by Jayne Hemsley. Graduated from London College of fashion and previously worked under Roland Mouret and Sophie Hulme, the designer used her knowledge to create cutting-edge designs that celebrate luxury and contemporary interest. The recent launch of Spring Summer 2015 collection is a series of leather bags and clutches that holds a minimalist sensibility, with a sole focus on refined Italian calf skin and suede. Rather architectural in terms of construction while looking like artworks of artisanal craftsmanship, these accessories don’t act as products of only everyday practicality, but also modernity in the technological age. I find myself attracted to the CO1 Backpack due to its flexibility both as a backpack and a shoulder bag. The simple handles against the trapezoidal massing are crisply contoured to imply a notion of pure functionality, voided of any ornamentations. One day in the future, I’m sure to see this beauty in my closet.
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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.
Shiro Studio is a London based design practice established by Andrea Morgante, committed to the creation of unique architecture and objects. Shiro means ‘white’ in Japanese, but here it implies a philosophical translation where white is perceived as the purest creative approach. An approach which has seen the design of the award winning Nivis — a strikingly sleek and minimalistic bathroom sink for Italian manufacturer Agape. Nivis pays homage to the most intimate and fragile sculptural qualities of snow, its unblemished whiteness and deep blanket fallen on everyday objects. Comprised of white cristalplant, Nivis’s surface becomes a soft, fluid mass where water can seamlessly flow, from the main to the secondary basin by rotating the overflow hole on the horizontal plane.
Celebrated minimalist architect John Pawson has created an ethereal physical space for London-based label and designer Christopher Kane‘s very first boutique on Mount Street. Kane’s designs in no way have a minimalist language, with bright colors and geometric patterns in the current season. Yet Pawson’s space is a match made in contrast heaven with the use of off-white surfaces, mirrored walls and glass vitrines and display shelves. Accessories are displayed on fluorescent-coloured plates that rest on glass shelves in the wall as a small subtle hint to Kane’s effervescent designs. Using highly polished stainless-steel mirroring on the rail down the staircase that connects womenswear on the ground floor to the menswear on the lower floor, the descent is illuminated by a large cylindrical chandelier that emphasizes the volume of this atrium. The rail sits recessed into the wall, a clever architectural detail of Pawson’s, so clothes can be hung on display along the shape of the rail. Having designed only a small number of retail spaces, Calvin Klein Collections Store in New York being one of them, John Pawson’s retail portfolio can look forward to the expansion of more Christopher Kane’s stores, since establishing the brand’s spatial identity in this beautiful, minimalist architecture.
A collaboration between London-based photographer Bruno Drummond and set designer Hattie Newman, Paper Mountains, recycles and decontextualizes the intricate paper sculptures created by Hattie for a project both had previously worked on, suddenly giving them new life. Generally speaking sets for photoshoots tend to be made as one offs — once the shoot is over the set might be stored, recycled or disposed of; an enormous amount of work goes into producing the sets yet the work of the designer might end up hidden from view. After realising how some of the elements of the set would make a great project in their own right, they set to create a series of formal studies, finding a fresh set of characteristics in the pieces. Some of the technical work that would normally be hidden, like the joining flaps of two paper mountains, were made visible. In some cases the pieces have been placed without reference to how they might stand in reality. For Drummond, the objects became suggestive of entirely different things than what they originally meant — beached ships or sea-creatures left stranded at the high tide mark.
Inspired by East Londoners’ pastel-hued hairstyles and boasting a 30-year heritage of traditional British manufacturing, accessories brand Ally Capellino‘s SS15 collection features a rose-tinted collection of rucksacks, satchels and bike-bags in ice cream shades and pastel hues, with every design constructed using waxed cotton and Italian veg-tanned leather. Photographed by Agnes Lloyd Platt with styling by Aurelia Donaldson, make-up by Sky Cripps-Jackson and hair colouring by Olivia Crighton of Glasshouse Salon, the lookbook materializes a beautifully simple idea brought to life by colour-blocking, elegant set design and flawless execution.
London based design duo BARBARA ALAN highly values research and experimentation in their approach towards design. Their aim is to reduce every piece to its very essentials, while still paying close attention to detail. For Spring / Summer 2015 it is all about juxtaposing lengths, new structures and floating silhouettes. While shapes are cut in geometric patterns, the free flowing, sometimes transparent fabrics add a soft touch to the summery layering. It is a pleasure to dive into the modernist world of BARBARA ALAN designs, where sculptural cutlines and a laid-back attitude are no contradiction. My favorite detail is the clean and pure stitch-free hemline finish, made possible by a high-tech bonding technique. All in all, a perfect collection to build a long-lasting, pure and modern wardrobe upon.
Squared is an education initiative developed by Google and its new identity has a curious story, because it was developed by the young London-based multidisciplinary designer Jack Morgan, after he published his conceptual redesign on his site, catching the attention of Google. I was fortunate enough to discover Squared when it was first introduced and instantly identified with their vision and way of doing things. However, I had always felt that their branding was severely lacking. It wasn’t congruent with their can-do attitude and innovative teaching methods. So Morgan worked on a full rebranding from concept to reality, producing a modern, minimal and instantly understandable new logo with Google’s design philosophy in mind: simple, abstract and colourful with a geeky undertone. The logo also has various references: the brackets of the old logo, playful hand signs like a frame made by the Squared students when posing for pictures together, and, obviously, the initial “S” of Square.
New House is situated on a street of traditional row homes in Hampstead, London. Designed by London based firm Guard Tillman Pollock, this modern white home focuses on privacy and clean lines. The front façade projects slightly out towards the street and is wrapped with sheer white fabric. This fabric conceals the home from the busy street while flooding the interior with filtered natural light. The boxy composition of the exterior continues inside. Monotone walls and beams are stitched together to form the various rooms. The floor plan has an open, airy quality due to double height spaces and a plethora of large windows and skylights. The white and gray palette is the perfect backdrop for the simple mid-century furnishings. I love how this unique home both stands out and blends in with its Victorian neighbors. The size and scale of New House is consistent with the other structures on its street, yet within these boundaries a truly creative and beautiful home emerged.
I met Studio Vit for the first time two years ago at Fuorisalone in Milan. I was affected by their radical minimalistic design, even through their business card and website. The studio, founded in 2010 by Helena Jonasson and Veronica Dagnert in London, design and create well made products, lighting and furniture with great attention to detail. After Globe and Marble Lights, Cone lights is a collection which is about opposites. It consists of two elementary forms, the cone and the sphere, that are combined in different ways. Spheres in handblown glass and cones in matt white or mirror polished metal make up lights that cast light from the ceiling, wall or floor. The materials are hollow or solid, matt or reflective. The pieces are sold as numbered editions from Etage Projects and each item is handmade in London. Light, materials and volume are key elements of Studio Vit production in relationship to the space. The objects should coexist harmoniously and at the same time create a tension in relation to each other. Cone Lights are not just simple lamps. They are beautifully geometric.
IKEA has recently launched Sinnerlig, a collaboration with London designer Ilse Crawford from Studioilse, on a range of cork and natural-fibre homeware products prominently featuring neutral colours that were chosen to fit into any home. In Crawford’s words: It’s supposed to work in a bathroom in Mumbai as well as a kitchen in Neasden, it has to fit into people’s lives. It is quite low key but we deliberately designed it like that, we see it as background, it’s not trying to compete with these fantastic icons of design — it’s a different thing. Set against the beautiful backdrop of Ett Hem hotel, also designed by Studioilse, the collection contains a range of around 30 products, from larger furniture pieces such as cork-covered tables and a daybed down to hand-blown glass bottles. The collection was unveiled during Stockholm Design Week and will be available in stores in August.