We are going to Hollywood Hills today, visiting home built in 2008 by XTEN Architecture. As always I particularly love the integration of architecture into the landscape while opening it to the city below. There is a lot to notice but let’s have a closer look at the materiality throughout: steel beams, glass in various renditions (such as fixed clear plate panels, mirror plate walls, light gray mirror glass panels), dry stacked granite (fireplace), charcoal concrete (cantilevered stair), floor to ceiling rift oak panels, dark stucco, cut pebble (flooring). The repetition of building elements deepens the continuity of space but with the right amount of interest, don’t you think? The house opens on every side “to capture the prevailing breezes to passively ventilate and cool the house” and I can easily see myself spending warm Californian afternoon here.
Strong ideas, less distraction.
Vincent Van Duysen is a Belgium architect whose work I’ve been drawn to for quite a while. It was almost too difficult to select only one of his projects to be featured here today and therefore here is a selection of my favorite spaces he designed. The use of singular element, frequently in a large scale, typically either defines the interiors or directs viewers’ attention to that particular element. I’m a big fan of the beautiful white space, panelled walls and strong geometrical shapes re-appearing in his designs. Hope you enjoy.
The H House in Maastricht, Netherlands was designed by Dutch architects Wiel Arets Architects and it is the ideal home for the artistically inclined owners. Although the home was built in suburban area, its minimal structure fits in the existing environment without the sacrifice of desired contemporary architecture. Minimal use of walls in interiors emphasizes the volumes of space, creating the effect of uninterrupted flow. Edited color palette consisting primarily of various shades of white provides soothing backdrop for the play of light and shadows, formed by the geometry of large windows and strong angles of interior structure. Seamless transition is further supported by the use of glass throughout, differentiating in its shape, transparency and opacity. Very interesting staircase floats above the ground and even more supports the careful definition of space. I love the combination of minimal interiors covered in white and of bold, lush green landscape on the outside. It is a successful combination of client’s preferred taste, necessary function, and existing surroundings. Perfect blend of interiors, architecture and landscape. Photography by Jan Bitter.
As we get closer to closing 2011, I thought it would be worthwile to re-visit somebody who has been featured on Minimalissimo multiple times for his visionary approach in design that never goes of out style: German industrial designer Dieter Rams. Already in the early 1980s and as a chief designer for Braun, Dieter Rams was aware and concerned by the state of the material world around him. Surrounded by what he called “an impenetrable confusion of forms, colours and noise” he created ten principles of good design that I found appropriate to feature before we enter 2012, another year full of creativity and design. 1. Good design is innovative 2. Good design makes a product useful 3. Good design is aesthetic 4. Good design helps us to understand a product 5. Good design is unobtrusive 6. Good design is honest 7. Good design is durable 8. Good design is consequent to the last detail 9. Good design is concerned with the environment 10. Good design is as little design as possible With Mr. Rams’ words in mind, I hope you find it inspiring to either design or appreciate the design that is Good Design.
Yes I am aware that it is the middle of December and many of you are probably covered in snow… but doesn’t a quick trip to Ibiza sound quite tempting? Designed by French architect Pascal Cheikh Djavadi, today’s home is calling our name with its minimal structure on the outside and a couple of surprising and elegant curves on the inside. The curves are balancing just right with the rest of the home, somehow making it even more inviting and fitting to its environment. There is a nice sense of both simplicity and personality that is so fresh and inviting. Carefully edited furnishing and neutral color palette with selected hints of color only add to the overall concept. Whether or not that was the plan of the architect, I love the play of rectangle being showcased in various scale throughout – from windows and doors openings, to fireplace, reading zone, selected seating, enormous bookshelf, and even seen in the design of the pool.
I was inspired to look into Japanese minimalism this week after hearing Shohei Shigematsu of OMA speak a couple of days ago about some aspects of why Japanese architects design the way they do. We won’t go into these circumstances here today but we will have a look at a great project in Japan built back in 2008 by Takao Shiotsuka Atelier. Garden and Sea House was designed around the goal to view as much of its surrounding sea as possible. Shiotsuka implemented previously proven elements to maximize the experience such as expansive windows, transparency and translucency, edited materiality and of course, minimal color. The repetitive use of these elements used in intentionally large scale supports the entire experience. Although there are certain zones where one might prefer just a bit more privacy, Garden and Sea house somehow exudes beautiful sense of calmness, wouldn’t you say?
Tina Frey is San Francisco-based designer creating modern designs in resin. Besides jewellery, her collection also includes everyday objects. The pieces in the collection are hand sculpted and when the clay design is completed, hand-made molds are created for each object. The molds are used to cast each item individually by hand in small batches by color. After the pieces are cast and removed from the mold, they are hand sanded. I appreciate Frey’s honest way of working with each piece, creating a direct relationship or a “bond” between the designer, the piece and hopefully the individual who will eventually purchase it. There is also strong potential in real wearability of her unique pieces for each design can easily become the star element or play the subdued part. Perfect example of sophisticated bold statement.
Today’s post will be hopefully yet another reminder that minimalism does not always have to consist of black and white. It is actually not the color what defines minimalism. Rather, one might look at strong element, cohesive material, connection, or repetition and see the overall harmony and concept supported by their use. All is hopefully achieved with simplicity and restraint. Now let’s have a look at The Norwegian Wild Reindeer Center in Dovre. Built by the fantastic Snohetta, I can applaud the architects for finding the balance between the focal point of the design and creative solution to the actual structure. The achievement here is the humble, yet absolutely beautiful and innovative execution of the Center while the most prominence was left to the surroundings, panoramic views and really, the existing “architecture” of nature. The site itself is 90 square meters, has comfortable seating area, features a fireplace and a glass facade that is supported by steel fins. The Pavilion was constructed by using Norwegian Shipbuilding techniques. The waving effect was achieved by using 10 inch wooden beams that were milled and assembled by making good use of pegs.
This Inhabitated Furniture apartment in Paris, France was designed in 2011 by Nicolas Reymond and it is interesting space to look at here on Minimalissimo. Besides the large volumes, very simple in form, I was attracted to the maximum and innovative use of space developed by Reymond. The renovation proposes, instead of walls, two large furnitures accessible by each side, to set up the space. These furnitures include and hide storages, kitchen cupboards, dressing, doors and bathrooms. They also separate day from night uses. A fluid and multipurpose space is provided: the entrance space is used alternately as a kitchen or as an office. The module idea combined in seamless manner with existing historical elements of the apartment is a well-executed solution to the previously problematic layout. The large volumes placed strategically at the core of the apartment, unforcefully indicate the focal space but still give the freedom of interpretation based on occupant’s needs and desires. I love the flexibility of use of the space and of course the integration of old and new. I wish my current city San Francisco would start building these!
The Hotel and Sport School Zenden was built by Wiel Arets Architects and is located within three monumental town houses near the river Maas in Maastricht, the Netherlands. The hotel includes nine rooms, a pool, a lounge, and a patio. The concept of the project was to transform a once-disparate assortment of guest rooms and athletic spaces – formerly known as the Hotel and Sport School Zenden – into one cohesive hotel. Wiel Arets opened up the ground floor completely to make it feel like one continuous space. A sleek white palette, including white polyurethane floors, and minimalist, box-like rooms with Corian inlays and night-stands integrated into the walls, washing tables placed on floating shelves, TV’s hidden behind reflecting glass and bathroom doors serving as mirrors blend the interior and the three houses together. I like that the architects were able to contradict the typical approach of many hotels of “the more the better” and assume the striking white must be quite calming in the city environment. Thoughts? Photography by Jan Bitter and Joao Morgado.
We don’t typically associate law offices with contemporary, minimalist and (shhhh) sexy design. Magically, Jose Gutierrez somehow managed to do all three with sleek sophistication included in this lawyer’s office in Auckland, New Zealand. Built in 2010, the space is pure joy in the world of simplicity and function. The combination of materials with the minimal use of color is just as striking. A fit-out for a lawyer’s office within a 1920′s heritage building. The brief was to create a clean, simple and elegant office that also had a “certain seriousness” about it. The openness and character of the space was respected and bespoke joinery units were carefully designed and inserted to create the architecture. I know the space probably doesn’t look like this on everyday basis (paperwork and all) but boy do I love it. Who knew law could be so attractive?
House of Depth in Japan was built by FORM/Kouichi Kimura back in 2007. As in other projects by Kimura such as House of Vision, House of Integration or House of Diffusion, House of Depth is also excellent example of minimalist approach to architecture. It was built on deep lot, 10m wide and 23m deep, with open space and a high wall sheltered from neighboring houses on one side. Despite its urban, closed appearance, the house has between the exterior and the interior a long approach that can be regarded as the intermediate zone relating to the surrounding environment. The minimalist house provided several areas where the line of sight is uninterrupted. It purposed to enhance visual depth. With well-balanced use of materials, matte and glossy finishes, and masterly composed volumes, one might find an unusual sense of serenity, shall we even say solitude within the space. Filtering light and low ceiling only add to the quiet, almost intimate atmosphere. Of course, the photography should receive a credit too, highlighting the soft angles and specific architectural gestures. Personally, I would appreciate even more light to filter through and to see signs of real life throughout but overall admire the focused, minimal execution.