Minimalissimo


Adele Lim

Minimal. Fundamental. Elemental. Relevant.

Renowned Lunetier Lionel Sonkes whose store on a small street in Brussels had commissioned Nicolas Schuybroek Architects with Marc Merckx Interiors to completely refurbish and rethink the existing shop, atelier and facade, in a warm, minimal and elegant volume. For over 20 years, Sonkes has been selling imported high-end glasses as well as custom made ones. Recognized as the Belgian equivalent of Maison Bonnet in Paris, the retail architecture by the design team had to reflect that reputation. What this optical store lacked in physical footprint was made up in its luxurious interiors. All the custom-made furniture and simple facade was designed with respect to the sleek minimalist character of the store. What I love most about this project is that instead of displaying an overwhelming variety of product, Sonkes Lunetterie has let the interior architecture speak for the atelier. The best examples executed here are the subtle volumes for merchandising, beautifully designed into wall niches, black metal framed vitrines and Carrara marble pedestals. The grey veins of the marble compliment the grey/white brushed oak wall panels and chevron-laid reclaimed oak floors, tying into the overall elegant and minimal architecture. Photography by ©CAFEINE/Thomas De Bruyne for NSArchitects and images courtesy of Nicolas Schuybroek Architects.


The monolithic architecture of the Ooike House by Matsuyama Architect and Associates creates the living experience around the views. While heavy at first glance, the imposing structure of this residence located in Fukuoka, Japan, is juxtaposed by the sleek slivers of window openings, delicate walls of glass and a skeleton-like staircase. Intersecting planes define the unique, assymetrical volumes of the interiors while the wide spacing of the joint lines of the concrete walls and floor tiles emphasize the scale of the space, making it feel more expansive than it already is. It is a different sort of comfort that I find appealing about this project. The house seems to exude the calm and cleanliness that one seeks in meditation. From the furniture to the fixtures and finishings, the details are kept to an extreme minimal. The spaces are serene and peaceful, making the view of the city and the landscape beyond an integral part of the architecture, making the architecture about rest. Images courtesy of Matsuyama Architect and Associates.


Los Angeles-based Building Block has yet again delivered a collection of bags that redefines functional pieces into an elegant minimalism. Looking back at their previous collections, the style has subtly evolved toward a more mature and luxurious direction. While the proportions and details of the bags reflect the modern day need for effortlessness and convenience, its materials, craft and finishings are classic. Slim portfolios, convertible clutches, laptop totes and even an iPhone sling carrier, all made from smooth black leather, I love how the collection continues to remain relevant to our lifestyles. Photography by Jennilee Marigomen.


This residence on an irregular site located in Islington, London is designed by Atelier ChanChan. The complete demolition of the previous building allowed the designer to instill her own design language into the facade of the house, a Herringbone brick pattern. Brick, being the material that is familiar to the context yet in a pattern that is seldom used on the exteriors. The warmth from the materials used both inside and out of this house exudes the comfort in its minimalism. The stunning detail of the floating staircase brings much light through the interiors; the sliding doors that provide a frameless opening to the courtyard; the walls in the bedroom that extends to the pitch of the roof – the architecture connects the spaces in an elegant and subtle manner that exemplifies understated, minimalist design. Photos via Atelier ChanChan and Dezeen.


Co is the collaboration between Stephanie Danan and Justin Kern whose Spring Summer 2014 collection is elegant, minimalist, strong and feminine at the same time. The selection of material holds an important part in their direction of this collection. The tailoring of leather and draping of silk in their designs are seductive in both the style and the comfort in its essence. The forms of pouf sleeves, reversed Georgian V-neckline and draped, cascading silk bring much femininity to the monochromatic color scheme. The duo behind Co have impressed with the subtle elegance and easy minimalism with this collection. Photos courtesy of Style.com.


The program guidelines for the Pocinho Centre for High Performance Rowing was to design a complex that not only facilitated training and preparation for the Olympics, but also to provide residential quarters and social interaction areas. Architect Álvaro Fernandes Andrade had the task of delivering the 8,000m2 project with a possible subsequent expansion phase of the housing area, without a significant impact on size and the landscape. Divided into 3 zones: Social, Housing and Training, the complex is built mostly into the terrain of Douro Valley in Portugal. I really appreciate how the structure echoes the undulating geography with deep respect to the context of the low buildings and slopes around it. The minimalist building of angled roofs and wave-like volumes blend in seamlessly with the terraces while the pristine white dry-stone walls give the Pocinho Centre an identity that is modern and chic yet functional at the same time. Photography by Fernando Guerra.


Embodied in the collection of Sydney-based label Ellery’s Pre Fall collection is a variety of rich fabrics such as brocade, velvet and duchesse satin, in the emphasized silhouettes of sculptured necklines and luxurious bustiers. Kym Ellery, who is behind the label, takes an innovative direction using flares, drapery and folds over the sleeves and collars to accentuate the volume of these pieces. At the same time, she maintains the femininity of the collection, keeping the design to a minimal while letting the softness of the curves and sculpted fabric reveal and accentuate the female form. It is this direction that makes it a bold collection, one that is unique yet familiar in the most recent Pre Fall shows of 2014.


The Hongkun Art Gallery is a stunning interiors project by architects Penda, located in Bejing. Its monolithic exterior gives the first hint of the arch – a typical architectural element – at the entrance of the gallery. However, what appears on the inside takes one for a pleasant surprise. How can one make an art gallery more interesting? Penda’s solution implements a volume of continuous curves defining the space as walls, partitions and even into the cove ceilings. I love the consistency of the design that molds the typically white space for viewing art into a piece of sculpture itself, its curves as if a reflection of the landscape. Even the utilitarian areas maintain the proportion of the arches with the single use of wood for all surfaces, making it a beautiful, minimalist art gallery, which is as if art on its own.


Marni’s Homme collection for Fall 2014 exhibits a subtle, minimalist direction with emphasis on texture and volume of materials inspired for the working wardrobe. Typically known for their bold colors and geometric prints, Marni’s language for this mens’ season consists of sombre polished suits and layers of incredibly rich and interesting fabric over the usual tweed and polyester. Consuelo Castiglioni, who is behind the Italian label, piques the designs with newer proportions of tailoring which I find quite appealing after it caught me by surprise. The elegance of a man’s suit is not just simply defined by its shape and style but the personality behind putting it all together, like this collection by Marni.


Located on the coast of Geojedo, an island south of South Korea, Mug Hakdong sits on the beach off of the main street. It was designed by Hyunjoon Yoo Architects for a client who runs a medium-scale sales distribution company and wanted his employees to be able to utilize the space for training, learning as well as enjoying the cafe and its facilities. The architects developed the concept for this hotel to be as flexible as the program requires. There would be a varying number of people and customers at different times so the hotel would need to accommodate the constantly changing needs of the client’s staff and its own guests. The stunning result is a beautiful convertible space of mobile walls that rotate or fold to provide this flexibility. The intersection of walls as planes that overlap and dissect the interior spaces make an intriguing and complicated volume. I was drawn to this project not only of how beautiful it is aesthetically, but that the challenges of program requirements of connecting public and private has turned into a landmark that also helped revive the local community. Photography by Youngchae Park.


Designer Tom Dixon has collaborated with Adidas to produce an innovative collection known as The Capsule which consists of both apparel and accessories that are multifunctional, utilitarian and modern all at once. Recently featured at Pitti Uomo in Florence and London Design Festival, this project spawn from Dixon’s one experience of having to sleep on a park bench when he could not get a hotel one night in Milan. The idea of having the basic necessities that were transformable to climate and condition inspired this survival kit – being prepared for the unexpected. And what a sharp, smart looking kit it is. With its focus around two pieces of luggage – one hard and one soft, their multiple compartments hold the basic collection of minimal and utilitarian outfits of reversible tops, adjustable pants and customizable shirts where you can cut the hemlines to the desired length. Padded parkas can be turned into sleeping bags, separates that can be assembled by buttons into a one-piece suit, and shoes that come in two parts for ease of storage can be put together by PVC stitch tape. I love that the thought process that went into the function of each piece, and yet remains stylish....


Minimalism is incredibly sexy in this 2013 Spring Summer collection by Sydney based UNIF.M, a creative collective whose objective is to reinvent everyday wear while complimenting what already exists in the closet: UNIF.M garments are developed to integrate seamlessly into an existing wardrobe and create a strong foundation. There is a stunning softness to this collection’s appeal past its first glance of basic forms and colors. Leather bras to silk pyjama blouses, pinafore to empire-line, the styles and materials exude a quality of feminism that is not over-girly. Instead, the designs are confident, the proportions are well crafted, and I love the fact that the studio used traditional methods of manufacturing industry-grade uniforms to deliver their clothes.