Minimalissimo


Adele Lim

Minimal. Fundamental. Elemental. Relevant.

Within Tokyo’s dense urban fabric, residences often face the challenge of getting enough light, privacy and usable interior spaces to live in. Wiel Arets Architects has completed a house in the neighborhood of Nishi-Azabu that is designed with these considerations in mind. The A’ House is clad with textured glazed panels that gently reflect the life and movements of the narrow residential street it is located on. Yet the beauty is in its double-layer glazed windows made of a transparent layer and the same textured panels that match the rest of the exterior. These windows allow the residents to slide between the transparent and translucent, adjusting their privacy as needed while getting sufficient light inside. On the exterior, the uniformity of the façade is interrupted by the extended frame tracks of the windows so the views can be expanded to the maximum length, enabling an uninhibited view to the outside. The interiors are finished with mostly concrete in minimal details, from the bedrooms to the kitchen and livings spaces, while the warped surfaces and corners provide some relief in the architecture in a language that ties itself to the exterior. The concrete also reflects the light, so the spaces seem...


The latest addition to fashion designer Phillip Lim’s fleet of boutiques is the flagship by Hackney-based retail designers Campaign. Located on Great Jones Street in New York City, the store presents the label 3.1 Phillip Lim in a generous space across 325 square meters of poured-concrete, limestone and marble flooring. The archetype columns of NoHo’s loft spaces provide the datum where gold fixture rails are centered upon, engaging a dialogue with the subdued furniture and plinths bases chosen for their quiet textures and colors in champagne-gold legs, green mink marble and onyx. These accent the white minimalist space beautifully and do not distract from the curated clothing on display. Large slabs of stones anchor the back of the store like a stage for the display of shoes and accessories, yet the slabs lead to the monolithic dressing area at the rear of the store. These hard surfaces are juxtaposed by elements such as the softness of the curved plywood wall that leads downstairs, the wash of light from the skylight above and the large studio canvases as rectilinear backdrops placed against the side walls add depth to the interior. It is an ethereal space, a strong brand direction for the fashion label and a beautiful minimalist interior that makes me look forward to...


Masahiko Maruyama who is behind the Japanese label Nude:MM created a delectable menswear Fall Winter 2014 collection. It is a monochromatic collection where architectural influences convolute trendy proportions of sportswear and smart casual in a mix of wool, linen twill and nylon. Exploring with layers and details of hoods, vests, lapels and belts, Maruyama presents a strong story of minimalist appeal and the familiar comfort of well-tailored menswear in his designs. Structured pliable piping at the coat hoods and adjustable slide-buckle cinch belts are some of the details that stand out in this collection made entire in Japan. This is too beautiful a collection to skip even though I discovered this late in the year. Photography by Masaru Tanaka.


Honduras-born New York City-based Carlos Campos reveals a subtle monologue of rectilinear colors within his Spring Summer 2015 collection. Graphic lines take on the whole shirt or jumper as an entire palette, bleeding the forms from breast to sleeve, mid-rib to collar. Tracksuit-like pants quietly appear in his outfits looking no less sharper than pants that end above the ankles – it is all about the proportion, a key element in his approach probably influenced by his father who was a master tailor. Campos has the ability to deliver classic mens silhouettes throughout his collections, while maintaining a strong vision and direction for each one. This collection is a simple, minimalist one that encapsulates a casual yet sharp assemblage, perfect for welcoming Spring.


The design agency Nendo has created yet another retail space for the Japanese label, Beige. In addition to clothing, this concept store located in  Tamagawa Takashimaya was also intended to sell interior goods, hold books for lending, and even turned into a gallery space for events and art exhibitions. Maintaining the brand’s minimalist direction, Nendo cleverly optimizes the already tiny space, zoning it vertically: library on top, clothing in the center and display gallery at the base. A 7.5mm beam installed at 2.05 meters above the floor serves as an attic-like shelf for the library of books, with magnetic bookends that keep them in place. Clothes and bags placed on hangers freely located around the store while low plinths serve as fixtures for display or for customers to step on and reach the clothes and books at the height of the beam. What a simple yet clever detail that takes the customer’s journey over the multiple levels. Its intentionally clean and pure finishes let the products and the activities stand out in the space. The space, though designed for the specific retail needs of the brand, manages to achieve a unique and flexible customer experience in a very simple concept. Photography courtesy of Takumi Ota.


Agata Bieleń has recently launched the Gold Line for 2014, a beautiful collection that amplifies the simplicity of geometry further from the last silver collection. Using simply gold for the entirety — the form, the fasteners, the connections, the joints — Agata has continued the Line series with such elegant minimalism and precision. The craftsmanship shines in these simple pieces, standing out in contrast to the textures of the set beautifully designed by Anna Szczesny of Witalis. Photographed by Kamil Zacharski, the collection with selected pieces of 18 carat gold can be purchased from Agata’s website.


In the latest campaign by MLTV Clothing, Episode Five carries the theme of architecture and asymmetry within the casual contemporary menswear. Anna Sjunnesson who is behind the label, isn’t making a statement of style but rather, expresses in her designs a quiet yet mildly recusant attitude: in a shirt that is draped subtly on one side, in asymmetric forms layered under heavier fabric, and in a sweatshirt hoodie constructed by 2 scarfs. As she describes: Layers of shear fabrics and heavier knits construct an industrial look which is built up with folded sections, draped parts and asymmetric cuttings. By working between the fine line of feminine and masculine and challenging the norms; we strive to develop new functions, expressions and use. In its very subtle details, I admire Anna’s eye for the inconspicuous and construction in this minimalist collection. Shop this Episode. Images courtesy of Anna Sjunnesson.


Sushi Azuma is a Japanese restaurant designed by the Osaka-based architecture practice Stile led by Ietsugu Ohara. The concept for the architecture is conceived with the traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony in mind, where the activity revolves around the preparation and presentation of the tea. The interior spaces and the materials are kept to a strict minimalist architecture, allowing the colors and lighting to present and highlight the preparation and dining of sushi. Everything has been meticulously designed in this space, from the proportion of the furniture to the sizes of the paneling, to a visual play on the architecture such as on the inside of the private dining niches where the cantilevered table appears to subtly ‘lift’ itself from the bench seating, which is such a clever, minimalist detail. Accent walls are dipped in a contrasting darker wood while curved walls are only highlighted by the cove lighting, allowing the public and private spaces to coexist as an integral part of the architectural procession. While Ohara’s intention was to focus on the food, one cannot help but appreciate the calm and peaceful aesthetic of Sushi Azuma’s minimalism. Construction: Ida Home. / Jiro Ida Lighting: MAXRAY. / Hiroyuki Nagatomi Decorative lighting: flame. / Kenichi...


Sally LaPointe’s Spring/Summer 2015 latest show at New York Fashion Week is truly sophisticated and beautiful collection. Within each individual piece, proportions of familiar elements such as boat necklines, bell shaped skirts, capped sleeves and vests have all taken on a new silhouette. Whether it is a play on the proportions of these elements, a refinement in the tailoring, the lines are blurred so gowns feel more relaxed and casual, and separates are styled to be more serious and formal. New York City-based Sally LaPointe brings a freshness to this strong, almost rocker-chic womenswear line. It is an approachable yet elegant minimalist collection that is simply very cool. Images courtesy of Style.com.


The Spring Summer 2015 collection by New York City-based label Assembly entices with the effortlessly-casual designed with precise tailoring and draping. Owner Greg Armas’ expertise in both mens and womenswear manifests in the architecture of the details. His journey took Assembly from a fashion design resource to a multi-brand unisex boutique which has since led to their own in-house collection since 2009. Having collaborated with, sourced and sold hard-to-get pieces from brands of the same minimalist design sensibility, Assembly portrays a certain nonchalance towards other moving trends with its confident femininity, making it one of my favorite collections for this season.


Renowned New York City-based designer Narciso Rodriguez displays his signature minimalist forms and sensual silhouettes in his Resort 2015 collection with understated details of geometric cutouts, simple lines that highlight the anatomy and even a twist of floral prints reduced to a pure bold graphic. Stunningly nonchalant, the collection embodies the architectural fluidity in the construction and tailoring of body-con dresses and separates of bell and A-lines. Cut-outs around the ribcage and scapulas; a black line that follows the curve of the spine on a white dress; color blocks that highlight dropped waists and curves, minimalism breathes such confidence and sensuality in this collection, a collection that will withstand trends and seasons. Images courtesy of www.narcisorodriguez.com.


The Los Angeles label Co have created yet another stunning collection for Resort 2015. In a theme of luxurious fabrics  molded into these sculptural forms and volumes, giving ubiquitous styles of A line, empire lines, slips and puffer coats an elegant yet sporty twist. Coming across this collection by chance, I could not believe these were the same designers I had featured 6 months ago. Co’s Resort 2015 is so beautifully styled and photographed, the images have such incredible depth. While the fabric reflect the light so the texture is highlighted, the details of each piece though minimal are pronounced. I could not think of a more beautiful way to present this collection.