Agnes Martin was a Canadian born, Vancouver raised artist who came to the United States at the age of 20, where she lived for most of her life. Influenced by the vast landscape she grew up surrounded by and by artists such as Mark Rothko, Donald Judd and Barnett Newman, her spare, paired down artistic style is often considered a minimalist art. An emphasis in her work was placed upon line, grids, and subtle color but her visual language consisting of these basic geometric shapes retains small flaws, purposefully left by the artist. Closeness is potentially created between the viewer and the artist herself as her imperfect hand becomes a connection of a human touch. Martin’s work then becomes an individual spiritual experience as one can interpret her repetitive, reductive elements on different levels, adding dimensionality based on their own perception. I love Martin’s delicate, nonhierarchical ease she brings into each piece. When you Google her name under images, you are instantly transformed into her fluent world of harmonized scales and rhythms.
Strong ideas, less distraction.
Norwegian Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter recently finished a National Tourist Route Rv 889 in Havoysund, Norway. The objective was to magnify visitors’ experience of walking from the roadside down to the seaside. The winding concrete ramp does not only allow universal accessibility but becomes an integral part of the journey. It slows down visitors in a measured, restrained approach and brings out the awareness of one’s surroundings within the remoteness of a place. Located in the extreme north of Norway, in a landscape almost lunar in its barren and inhospitable beauty, the facility should ideally be completely self-sustainable in terms of power input and waste output. The general notion was to create a human detail in the vastness of the landscape that is as timeless as the landscape itself and that brings attention to the relationship between the duration of experiences and the hugeness of the spatial circumstances. I would love to walk that path in slow, measured and restrained steps as the architects intended, wouldn’t you?
Aidlin Darling Design have been my favorite San Francisco based architects for quite a long time. With a portfolio filled with one stunning project after the next, it is easy to see why. I have chosen to highlight the Sonoma Spa Retreat as it has become somewhat an iconic project to which I often return to for inspiration. The spa pavilion is an intimate private retreat extending of an existing rammed-earth house and is opened to the landscape, framing distant views of San Francisco to the south. The simplicity of the space only accentuates the impeccable precision of detailed design decisions which admirably come across effortless. One is then able to appreciate the spatial quality (immediate and outer) through curated material selection and mentioned framed views. In each project, we seek to uncover an inherent spirit of place and interpret constraints as catalysts for performative design. The individual character of each project emerges through poetic spatial relationships, material richness, and exacting detail. Fantastic design philosophy, don’t you think? I hope you enjoy their work.
Featuring the ‘Roof House’ Proposal by Betillon/Dorval-Bory Architects submitted in the competition in Chiba, Japan. The eight proposed homes are based around the reinvention of something we are all familiar with – the concept of a roof. The project experiments not only with a space itself but also the human body in it, therefore opens new possibilities about how people live. The ‘Roof House’ is a place with architectural, acoustic and visual qualities and allows for various spatial reconfigurations and potential developments. Some other effective strengths include a minimal use of materials, construction costs and the overall use of energies due to the grouped housing. With no protective walls and with only slanted roof, one might ask what happens with the climate on the inside, what is the ventilation like, what are the qualities of light and shadows and what would a daily movement within really be like? In their own words, the architects explain the concept: We choose not to yield to the temptation of suburban individualism, one of the causes of the disappearance of social ties and greater consumer of land. Thus, it is in an elegant form of collective housing that we integrate our eight houses. In a mix of...
The dynamic Belgium architecture firm Govaert & Vanhoutte was recently featured on Minimalissimo with their amazing Villa Roces and when browsing through their website I couldn’t resist highlighting a couple more of their interior projects. However, I highly suggest visiting their portfolio which is filled with modern, minimal designs. One of the projects you see on the left and below is an office space/showroom Govaert & Vanhoutte did for Mercedes in Roeselare, Belgium. Strong graphics on the walls lead the eye throughout and become the main design point that compliments rather than competes with the purpose of the space. The application of concrete, glass and wood floors keeps the space modern, yet classic. The other project is another office/retail space, this time for a Belgium fashion label San Martino. Again, the use of concrete plays an important role in the concept with white oversized tables and storage units supporting the easy flow througout. The main color element is left up to the clothing itself, providing I’m sure an ever-changing visual treat.
I hope you are willing to travel with me today and explore a little magic that is hotel Habita MTY. Located in the northern part of Mexico in Monterey and with a view of the Sierra Madre mountains, the hotel is a stunning result of collaborative work by architect Agustin Landa and interior designer Joseph Dirand. Modern architecture is supported by all black and white interiors and materials such as concrete and dark wood throughout only add another layer of sophisticated luxury. Strong design statements such as the custom mirror wall behind the reception desk or masculine platform beds are all part of the Habita MTY experience. And of course, one cannot forget the Poolbar which includes two infinity pools and hard to ignore views of the city. I’m always on the lookout for new, modern hotels but many times wonder what will happen to their immediate, flashy image a few years later. Considering Habita MTY was built back in 2008, one can appreciate its smart design choices that are deserving the many design awards it has received.
Featuring the newly unveiled CO-OP at Barneys, New York designed by the always surprising creative force Yabu Pushelberg. The concept behind Boy Meets Girl Barneys CO-OP is driven by merging the men’s and women’s sections and introducing a brand new cafe Genes@CO-OP into the space. By looking at the streamlined, modern and almost gallery-like design, equipped with the feature of individual iPad stations promoting more convenient item finding, I am excited about the opportunities that lay within the future of retail design. The fluidity of the space allows for easy body progression within the store and is directed on sales increase. The seamless strip lighting above the interactive stations creates pretty fantastic ambiance and from designer’s perspective it will be interesting to watch the user’s direct experience with the space and incorporated technology. It is no secret I am a big fan of Yabu Pushelberg’s work and projects such as CO-OP (also nominated for the 2012 Restaurant and Bar Design Awards) confirm that smart, functional and well-edited design can go a long way.
Bringing slightly different layer to today’s post with the Finnon Glen house in VIC, Australia designed by Doherty Lynch. Shortlisted for the Australian Interior Design Awards this year (among other excellent projects), I was mostly attracted to the balanced combination between architectural clarity and the ease of the furnishings. The result seems like a natural gesture by the designer without forced and unnecessary design features but with just enough visual interest to please the eye. Moreover, this type of design allows flexibility and opportunity for the clients in their day-to-day lifestyle. Would love to hear your thoughts. Photography by Sonia Mangiapane
Featuring my friends over at THRIVE Los Angeles, a fashion house founded by two technology innovators Rob Meadows and Ali Shahriyari. Under the creative direction of a designer Cem Cako, a graduate of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp, Thrive’s Autumn/Winter 2012 Collection is stunning in its mature design, smart craft and flawless execution. I had a chance to ask Cem about the concept behind the collection and his answers emphasised the goal for timeless pieces, quality, respect and re-discovery of the art of making clothes. Cem was driven by the art of tailoring and expressed a satisfaction of making a garment without targeting the mass production. There was no reason for me to go beyond this craft and start doing loud things. Each piece in the collection can easily qualify for the classic every woman appreciating quality and beauty can add to her closet. Additionally, I believe the statement of not doing loud things when there is no reason can extend beyond Thrive’s mission and is able to resonate with many aspects of good design.
Introducing Catskill Mountain House in Catskill Mountains, New York by Audrey Matlock. Built based on simple forms and applying fluidity within spaces, the home becomes a retreat where architecture and nature become one. Some of the interesting architectural features are the white framework and a large cast concrete wall that protects the terrace, pool, and outdoor fireplace from a rocky slope. Full height windows allow for maximum light and expanding views of the Catskill Mountains. Interiors consists mostly of a monochromatic palette of black, white, and gray with the addition of blue and green coming in from the outside in a form of skies and nature. It would be difficult to compete with such beautiful views, don’t you think? Other features include heated and polished concrete floors, slate accent walls and ebony stained ash cabinetry.
Cavo Tagoo hotel is located in Mykonos Island in Greece and it is owned by an award-winning architect Paris Liakos. Cavo Tagoo strives to be “a canvas upon which visitors can color their dreams” and it has deservedly gained its 5-star status through minimal and sophisticated design. A sense of craft and luxury is visible in all areas of the hotel while the water is still very much the setting element that embraces the hotel. Other defining materials are pebbles that cover the roofs, wood, stone, and bamboo. The interiors are wrapped in washes of white with bold splashes of colors, gold in the lobby being my favorite. Paris Liakos collaborated with Aggelos Aggelopoulos, Yannis Mourikis and George Gavalas and as a result, the hotel is a “masterful combination of traditional rustic elements with modern minimalist purity.” I am a big fan of hospitality design and admire Cavo Tagoo’s essence of calming environment and curated design decisions.
My friends, hold on to your hats because today I am taking you to a breathtaking villa in Le Marche, to what seems to be a hidden jewel in Italy. Converted into a vacation home with a guest house, Casa Olivi is located on a hill in Treia and is a result of a 4-year renovation process by Swiss architects Markus Wespi and Jerome de Meuron. The 300-year old villa was destroyed by fire in 1995 but the architects revived it with keen eye for modern lines while being respectful of the original charm. The result is a stunning home that is elegant, minimal and oh so delightful for the eyes! If this is a “farmhouse”, we all might as well become weekend farmers, don’t you think?