I am a huge fan of Tadao Ando, so I was incredibly excited when I found out he was designing a store in Milan. This is the Duvetica Milano Shop, which is a store and showroom for Duvetica’s luxurious down jackets. The shop is located inside an existing warehouse building. Ando uses two large walls made of exposed concrete, one of his favorite materials, to form the interior spaces. A horizontal slit is cut in one of the walls and used to display the colorful jackets. The opposite concrete wall holds a skylight and the building’s access routes. This is a small store, but it has a big personality. The exposed concrete is a perfect backdrop for Duvetica’s jackets. This material creates a dramatic, cold, and isolated mood which enhances the warm, fluffy coats. I love how the coats are displayed gallery-style against the wall. It makes them feel special and unique. This store is a perfect example of commercial minimalism, and a lovely example of Ando’s precise design style.
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Straightforward. Milan-based fashion house Prada is not known to follow trends. At Milan menswear fashion week, Muccia Prada, promoted comfort and practical chic. Everything was about easy dressing and staying true to yourself. No-fuss lines. Prada’s clothes are conceptual with structural strength. This time, Muccia showcased preppy stuff, mostly casual; a very polite style. The retro vinyl look and the shrunken sweaters reinforced fun and brightness. Men’s fashion is rarely dramatic. Is the best design invisible? Don’t call me a traditionalist, but isn’t that what design is all about? Re-working and altering what already works? Small touches. Minimal complexity—is that what minimalism means to you?
Milan based architect and industrial designer Monica Armani, internationally recognised by the precision of geometry, the purity and consistency of her work, designed in 2010 the minimalist, sleek and stunning WGS Stool for Italian furniture brand, Gallotti&Radice. The WGS Stool is designed in bright stainless steel as well as embossed white or grey aluminium, which can be covered by felt, 3D Tex, leather, suede or fabric in a variety of colours and patterns. Measuring 45 x 30 x 45 cm, the low stool is a simple and subtle piece of furniture that would surely compliment any contemporary interior. I really enjoy the thinness of the design, its smooth rounded corners, and the iced 3D Tex finish is particularly beautiful.
Pure is a new shoe collection by the French architect, Jean Nouvel for the Italian brand, Ruco Line. The minimalist shoe was unveiled at this year’s Milan Design Week gaining great relevance, and strong opinion. This is Nouvel’s first footwear project as he looked for basic and essential lines to apply to the shoe design, which is a characteristic often seen in his architectural work. The result is an incredibly simplistic shoe with a strong identity. Pure is made up of high-quality calf leather with a rubber sole. The collection is available in a variety of colours, including; black, white, yellow and fuchsia. The shoe also features the abbreviated name of the design at the top along with its style, colour code, and date of production.
Although Fashion Month had run its course through London and to Milan, there’s one collection that still pulls me back to New York: Lacoste. People often disregard its capability, or should I say Felipe Oliveira Baptista‘s capability, in terms of design aesthetics due to the lodged image of the brand’s well-known polo shirts. But it is the understated collections that hold so much of Lacoste’s spirit. Spring Summer 2014 is like a ballad to its preceding Fall Winter 2013. Structures were broken down into flows with crisp contours covering hem lines in the first few looks. Those lines then widen as the collection progresses, becoming strips of sheer that reveals the skin underneath. Eventually, at the end of the collection, the garments become completely translucent. By engulfing the whole body and showing it to the audience, in a way, it’s showing the most important element of sportswear: the body. Needless to say, Lacoste Spring Summer 2014 is one of my favorite collections so far. It’s poised, simple, clean, and wearable. And by that, it’s asking the consumers to re-evaluate the brand for its designs, and not its popular image. Photos Courtesy of Style.com
Originally intended for exhibition in Milan in 2010, Minimalux has produced the ideal minimal culinary accompaniment. Commissioned by Wallpaper for their Handmade exhibition, these pieces are characteristic of the London-based Minimalux label with their dedication to the minimalism discipline. The crisp and uninterrupted lines of the Knife & Spork are a celebration of stainless steel. Mirror-polished and completely flat and linear in profile they display an obvious harmony and formal symmetry. Ignoring ergonomics, these pieces seem to play with the conventions of industrial design and challenge the user to engage in a changed eating experience. Too often is this challenge posed. Less emphasis therefore on the food than on the way in which the food itself is to be consumed. I like this. Measuring 150 x 15 x 30mm in size, the Knife & Spork are a true gem. Minimalux is an online portal for their designs and collaborations with various designers. I urge those excited by these forms to check out the rest of their collection online.
Shade is a new lamp launched by Flos during this year’s Salone del Mobile in Milan. It is a design conceived by Paul Cocksedge Studio and produces a wonderful effect because Shade is just what its name indicates, a shade. It has no bulb, mechanisms or any attached light sourse, and it is suspended with very thin wires, appearing almost as if it is floating in the air. And what is the trick? The power derives from an LED floor fitting, shining an uplight into the shade. That is great! Shade started as a purely practical problem, how to rid ourselves the clutter usually connected to light fittings. The solution actually turned out quite mysterious, almost dream-like. It utilises both floor and ceiling, but appears unconnected to either…!
Milan-based architect Victor Vasilev produced the Kub basin in 2010. Its styling, lines and considered designed elements stand classic three years on. Made from carrara marble and glass, this piece challenges the traditional solid styling of bathroom vanity systems. I like this. Born in Bulgaria, Vasilev moved to Israel and later to Milan where he studied. Years later, he still hasn’t left the city. He is an architect who established his own firm taking commissions in architecture, interior and industrial design. He has produced collaborations with the like of Boffi and is clearly dedicated to his craft and the discipline of minimalism. His studies in Scandinavia have also added to an extension of this dedication. The Kub system is one that challenges convention and is incredibly beautiful.
Created by Portuguese and Milan-based product designer Tania da Cruz, this white flower-crowned head is actually an exuberantly fun and surprisingly simple ceramic vase. Tania’s work is influenced by a communicative approach aimed at uncovering the poetic aspects of a project, a philosophy that is very noticeable with the WIG vase. The WIG prototype has been exhibited at the Milan design week in the 2012 & 2013 editions. Objects and designs influenced by the concept of “play” often have such a strong, positive reaction from the audience – I’d love one of these in my home!
I have recently been admiring the work of Italian industrial designer Marco Guazzini, who has made it his life’s work to create a selection of designs that provoke an uplifting mood through a simplistic approach. Originally from the beautiful city of Florence, Guazzini now lives and works in Milan developing a hugely impressive portfolio of furniture, lighting and household accessories. One particular design caught my eye, however. That is Yo. A beautifully simple magazine rack made completely of lime stone. A sculptural object which appears as a “Y” letter with a hole in the centre. The magazines find their place between the two side wings, sitting at 90 degree angles, and rolled up into the hole, which provides a physical and visual lightness to the piece. The name “Yo” is derived from its iconic shape, and takes inspiration from the typical verbal expression. Produced by Italian stone manufacturer Pimar, Yo is a design I particularly enjoy because of the contrast of function and sculptural elements, which in fact can be found in many of Guazzini’s works.
I recently discovered the wonderful collection of lighting designs from Milan based, Omikron Design. The Italian company has a primary objective to produce objects that enhance the illuminated spaces through light and outstanding design. Well, today I would like to introduce you to a particular lighting structure that does just that – Duo. The wall mounted Duo increases the functional characteristics of the cube. The structure is limited to the pure essence, enclosing the light sources and electronics with basic architectural geometry. Comprised of aluminium, Duo has a matt finish and is available in a variety of colours including black, white, silver and bronze. Understated elegance.
The String Lights installation, created by London based designer Michael Anastassiades for Italian brand Flos, was presented during Euroluche 2013 in Milan. Thin electrical cords, arranged into laconic shapes, held pendants, fitted with LED light sources. Here is how the designer describes his inspiration: Every time I take the train, I sit by the window and watch the series of perfectly parallel strings connecting the pylons, as we move at high speed. I love the way they divide the landscape and how spheres are occasionally beaded through the wires at random intervals. I also love how, in Mediterranean cultures, strings of lights are stretched between posts to mark an outdoor space for an evening party in a village square. And finally, I love how human ingenuity works around problems created by everyday things in the house (like switches and power points) that others have chosen to position where we don’t want them. I love how these delicate pensil-thin lines create the shapes our mind finishes and makes three-dimensional. Who ever said that the electrical cord is not a beautiful thing?