Experiencing the Songwon Art Center on a challenging site and topography such as this in Buk-Chon, South Korea must be quite phenomenal. Designed sensitively to the site conditions for pedestrian access and its own parking requirements, Seoul-based architects Mass Studies have completed a minimalist structure that appears relevant to its surrounding context. Its equally contemporary and clean interiors serve to emphasize the pyramid-like volume of gallery spaces that unite through this void. The photos navigate a very concise, clean and sharp experience for the visitor in its architecture, the way light is received and in the materials used. This is so it does not distract from the art work, and the exterior remains respectful to the quiet street it is on. The building’s minimalist apex composes every view so the approach from each road is different. The challenge of the site and steps taken to ‘problem-solve’ in terms of circulation, experience, and program is what I love about this building.
Minimal. Fundamental. Elemental. Relevant.
The Ridge Road Residence is located on the Mornington Peninsular of Australia, within the Moonah Links golf course. Studio Four developed the design so that it addresses the existing site conditions and promotes environmentally responsible practices in its architecture – the adjacent tea trees that provide shade to the exposed living areas, full-height and completely operable windows for natural ventilation, various water-saving storage features and renewable timber as its main construction material. Above all, its minimalist aesthetic is what appeals to me most. I like how it sits low in elevation with terraced decks created from simple volumes so it blends in with the topography, and that the distinct separation of private vs public is complimented with such beautiful, seamless architectural details and contrast of white and black. Photography by Shannon McGrath.
The Tokyo-based architecture firm Shinichi Ogawa & Associates recently completed the Library House, a stunning minimalist residential project designed with a 6 meter high wall of bookshelves for the client who is an avid reader. What I love most about the architecture is that as austere and private as the exterior looks with the lack of windows and openings, the interiors are not compromised in terms of light with the use of skylights, open courtyards and tinted glass. The details in the architecture – the frameless doors, the bookshelf in the wall, the opening of the skylight – makes this a really successful minimalist design.
Ottawa-based designers, The Federal, have developed a prototype for a set of knives called the Maple Set. With much thought given to ‘what we really need’ in a knife, the designers, possibly guided on principles of minimalism, reveal a beautiful solution. The focus is drawn to the high polished blade, while the rest of the knife’s Maple wood body sits warmly in the hand and blends in to its surroundings. The wood is sealed and food safe to allow for easy cleanup. The knife gives the appearance of being lightweight; however their weight is balanced to ensure that they can be used by any level of chef. While it may be most practical for certain types of food, the design of the maple and steel compliment each other and these knives will still be a great gift for the minimalist enthusiast. Images via here.
The exterior of the Asco Visitor Center, located in Tarragona, Spain, caught my eye but it was learning that it is a public facility for the nuclear plant next to it that caught my attention. Containing an exhibition hall, conference and meeting rooms, the designers, Josep Camps and Olga Felip of Arquitecturia approached the design strategically by addressing the site of the nuclear plant as well as the geography at the same time: At a urban scale, there was the opportunity of solving the end of the industrial area – a built system of mute containers. At a territorial scale, we understood the strategic location of the site, between the landscape and the urban core. I like the idea that such a visitor center exists to educate and improve the public image towards nuclear energy and that its minimalist architecture of black vertical steel plates on the exterior and its geometry on the site implies that the context of the building is very much contemporary and relevant. Images and text courtesy of Arquitecturia.
Product Designer Simon Hasan has an exquisite collection of laboratory-grade borosilicate glassware in the form of a bottle, carafe and decanter, all carefully hand crafted and wrapped in leather. I am drawn to the simplicity of the details of this set of Wrap Glassware. The brass pins complete the beautiful sequence of the design, emphasizing the contrast of materials while the use of the leather softens normally sterile-looking objects. I know a space in my living room just for this.
Dutch designers Studio WM have created a series of porcelain pendant lamps that operate on a pulley system inspired by shipyards in Rotterdam. Keeping the available colors solid and the design of whole system minimal and clearly functional, this series has been exhibited in one of many Lightness in Lines presentations by the studio, including the Salone del Mobile of 2012. While I love that it has been inspired by such a utilitarian mechanism, it is the notion that, for once, the pendant lamp’s height can be adjustable so efficiently while looking so elegant and sturdy at the same time that really appeals to me. You can read their interview with Elle Netherlands here and take a peek in their lovely studio.
The architectural practice OSA/KHBT has delivered a really interesting and prolific solution to connect 2 separate living units addressing the height restrictions between the change in levels of this project, Balfour Place, located in Mayfair, London. This has resulted in a meandering ribbon which becomes an inherent part of all main functions of the flat: Kitchen, Stair, Circulation and Bathroom. I really appreciate the decision to use the one material of walnut timber as a continuous ribbon throughout the space because not only is it a design statement in contrast to the white minimalist apartment, but also because the timber is used both as structure in the stair and passageway as well as surface finish in the kitchen countertop and bathtub surround. The interior spaces have been carefully thought out as in which parts of the walnut ribbon get concealed for private or public uses, allowing it to stand out against the frameless openings. This is a really elegant concept that’s been executed beautifully. Photos by Johannes Marburg.
Instead of the usual lush interior finishes and decor typically found in modern hospitality projects, the designers Petra Liquida have made the experience of light, volume and architectural details the visual luxuries of Casa do Conto. Translated as the ‘House of Tales’, this unique hotel in Porto, Portugal was designed with R2 Design around the concept of integrating various parts of literature from 6 different authors of the history and architecture of the city, into the suites. While the graphics of the relief in the concrete ceilings do evoke a cultural and contemplative experience when one looks up before falling asleep, it is the architecture of the rest of the hotel that I find alluring. From the reference of wood to match the concrete walls, to the details of the central stairs, to the manipulation of light within the volumes of each space continuing into the next – the result is one of visual luxury in a minimalist aesthetic that still pays reverence to the historical context of the city. The new project evokes, through an abstract approach, the old house adornment and its wall textures by using traditional surfaces – crossed wood patterns, corrugated steel plates and curved plywood panels –...
The contemporary cycling culture is really easy to embrace these days with beautiful graphic and packaging designs like James Greig, who is behind the clean and elegant brand and site, Cyclelove. It is a refreshing site that is actually less about bicycles and more about people and their bicycle lifestyles. And after I have spent too much time going through the photostream of all bike related images, the features on all bicycle paraphernalia, I found the perfect gift for fellow minimalist design-loving, bicycle-riding enthusiasts in this simple ‘Just Ride’ limited edition print of abstracted bicycle frames by Greig on heavyweight matt black paper with a white gloss ink, hand-numbered, and packaged in a custom CycleLove poster tube.
Ever since Marsotto, a reputable stone carving company from Italy collaborated with Milan-based industrial designer James Irvine to launch their first collection at the Marmomacc Fair, the largest stone fair worldwide back in 2009, a consistently beautiful series of marble furniture has been created out of elegant, minimalist forms. These reflect the structural integrity of the material and the natural beauty of its color and texture. These are my favorite from Irvine in the Marsotto edizioni collection. Very often, marble happens only as a detail on an object because of its cost, but I’d imagine that to design with marble from the start is to think about function and form unilaterally, exploiting the strength of the material and its sculptural attributes while taking measures to prevent wastage. The white Carrera marble is an old material that has been beautifully transformed into contemporary objects in this series.
The design team at Cadaval & Solà-Morales have created an interesting structure 50km south of Mexico City, as part of a series of bungalows in a town historically popular among artists, poets, musicians and writers. Known as the Tepoztlan Lounge, the openness and its design around existing trees cleverly syncs both natural and manicured landscape into a communal space, where every activity embraces the surroundings. Its architectural form is what I like most about it. Its tri-point volume ensures there isn’t a front or back of the building, embraces every possible advantage of the views of the landscape and allows an openness that integrates internal and external activities yet provides shade and privacy if needed. Parents can be within reach of their children while cooking or in the pool; switching from hammock-napping to novel-reading to pool-plunging mode whenever is what this lounge is about. Its concrete structure as beautifully minimalist as it is, is also an energy efficient material in this climate, making it an incredibly desirable escape right now.