Minimalissimo


Jillian Japka

True design needs no ornamentation.

New House is situated on a street of traditional row homes in Hampstead, London. Designed by London based firm Guard Tillman Pollock, this modern white home focuses on privacy and clean lines. The front façade projects slightly out towards the street and is wrapped with sheer white fabric. This fabric conceals the home from the busy street while flooding the interior with filtered natural light. The boxy composition of the exterior continues inside. Monotone walls and beams are stitched together to form the various rooms. The floor plan has an open, airy quality due to double height spaces and a plethora of large windows and skylights. The white and gray palette is the perfect backdrop for the simple mid-century furnishings. I love how this unique home both stands out and blends in with its Victorian neighbors. The size and scale of New House is consistent with the other structures on its street, yet within these boundaries a truly creative and beautiful home emerged.


3 Vaults is a refurbished apartment located in Turin, Italy. Designed by r3 Architetti, this small one-bedroom is the perfect home and occasional holiday rental. The three vaults the name refers to are the living room, bedroom, and bathroom. Each room has its own distinct styling, yet all three are tied together beautifully. A diagonally shaped hallway connects the various rooms. Wood paneling mingles against reinforced concrete and smooth white plaster. The home borders on an industrial aesthetic, yet more refined details allow it to feel cozy and polished. The furniture follows a similar theme: old and new pieces are artfully mixed and matched. The original ceiling remains from the building’s 1905 construction. Each unique space in 3 Vaults feels sculptural. The angles of the design and the chosen materials come together to create a modern and fashionable home.


Austrian firm Innauer-Matt Architekten designed Haus Für Julia Und Björn on a woody plot in Egg, Austria. The site is narrow and set on a slight hill with an idyllic view of a small village. The ground floor entrance opens up to the living room, a space which spans the whole first floor of the building. The open floor plan allows for a continuous flow of family activities: cooking, dining, and living. The bedrooms and study are located above and make use of the unique spaces created by the steeply sloped roof. Throughout the home, cut-outs in walls provide nooks for sitting areas or study spaces. The interior makes use of a few carefully chosen materials. Local spruce wall panels and flooring give the rooms a light and cosy feel while connecting the home with the natural environment. Light gray walls and big windows intersect with the exposed wood. Accents of black and white bring a clean and modern look to each room. The facade is covered with a wooden lattice structure. This structure offers weather protection as well as an interesting aesthetic. I love the way this house plays with the traditional home archetype. From afar it looks conventional, but up close it is a the...


This modern, monochromatic home in Copenhagen was designed by Sofie and Frank Christensen Egelund of the design brand Vipp. The townhouse was built in 1898 and renovated by the Egelunds several years ago. Five narrow levels hold enough living space for the couple and their four children. The neutral palette and classic furniture pieces tie each level together; every room is brimming with the Egelunds’ elegant design choices. Creative uses of lighting and texture allow the monochromatic spaces to feel dynamic instead of stark. Each furniture and decor piece was carefully chosen to match the home’s Scandinavian style. Custom shelving and built-in storage keep the large family neat and organized. Copenhagen Townhouse manages sleek minimalism with loads of personality.


Casa Balint is an elegant white home located adjacent to a golf course outside of Valencia, Spain. Designed by Fran Silvestre Arquitectos, this unique home is formed of one sweeping elliptical motion. This form extrudes and intrudes at key moments to create space for rooms and windows. The arched roof, cantilevered at certain points, is supported by four concrete posts. The roof dictates where shadows hit the home, providing light and shade where needed. This shape serves practical functions in addition to its aesthetic value. The elliptical allowed the structure to take up minimal space on the site, minimizing the disturbance of the surrounding landscape. The interior features three floors. On the ground floor, the kitchen and living spaces have large windows that look out on to the garden. The bedrooms are located in the more private spaces upstairs, while an underground area provides additional living and patio space. In the backyard, a curved pool mimics the shape of the house. Casa Balint embodies the notion of architecture as an art form. This home is so much more than a functional living space; it is a true work of art.


One of the newest pieces from minimalist favorite Norm Architects is the Snaregade Table. The design is available in two forms: rectangular and round. Both variants feature a smooth, dark surface and intersecting supports. The table legs bring unique styling to the piece without sacrificing functionality. Each support is placed at just the right height and angle to maximize space for legs and chairs. The tables’ versatile aesthetic and practical design make them perfect for dining or as a workspace. A Snaregade table can easily be the focal point of a space, or it can delicately blend with its surroundings. I love when I come across a design that is truly an example of form follows function. The role of a table warrants certain operational elements. Yet it is the way these elements come together that defines a stand-out and timeless design.


At the top of a Manhattan high rise is the pristinely designed home of Kanye West. Kanye West Loft was completed in 2007 by the esteemed Italian designer Claudio Silvestrin. Every aspect of this loft — the architecture, interior design, furniture and lighting — was designed by Silvestrin. This serene and monotone apartment features an open floor plan to allow for a continuous flow of space. Strong geometric forms are created from soft white walls, limestone, and pear wood. The forms divide the space as needed while also acting as the home’s main decoration. Two stone islands, reminiscent of sculptures, provide a built-in kitchen and bathtub. Hidden light sources at the top and bottom of the walls add to the calm, gallery-like quality of the rooms. This loft has ancient quality which I attribute to the generous use of stone and minimal furnishings. This quality allows Kanye West Loft to feel both expertly designed and remarkably natural, not unlike Mayan temples of the ruins of Rome.


Casa Brunhais is an elegant white home located in Póvoa de Lanhoso, a municipality in Portugal. The home was completed in 2009 by architect Rui Vieira Oliveira with Vasco Manuel Fernandes. When viewed from afar, Casa Brunhais is a simple white form against a rocky landscape and blue sky. On closer inspection, this house is brimming with impeccable details in a dynamic structure. Multiple forms comprise the structure of Casa Brunhais. Shape, height, and material subtly differentiate the intersecting volumes. A traditional courtyard is placed at the center of the form, creating a private outdoor space for the residents. Few windows are placed on the exterior facade, as the interior courtyard brings plenty of natural light indoors. The interior features large expanses of white walls and floors, along with neutral curtains on the many large windows. Built-in furniture and recessed lighting allows Casa Brunhais to be as minimal on the interior as it is on the exterior. I find this house absolutely captivating: the design is strong yet still exudes a sense of humility. Photography by Fernando Guerra FG + SG.


Dar Mim is an understated white home located in the picturesque coastal city of Hammamet, Tunisia. The home is designed by the Parisian based firm Septembre, a firm known for consistently producing elegant and sophisticated designs. Dar Mim is a renovation of a traditionally styled home and courtyard. Septembre preserved the integrity of the existing home by barely touching the front facade and patio, and designing a matching extension in the back. The main living areas are situated around a central courtyard. The expansion in back features a guest suite with a separate terrace. A block and void system is used in the structure to filter light into specific areas of the home. All the building materials for Dar Mim were locally sourced. The wood and metal work was done by local artisans, and the plaster walls were made using old school techniques. These traditional materials allow this renovation to blend seamlessly with the older buildings in Hammamet. Overall, the excellent materials and thoughtful styling make Dar Mim a unique and successful design. Photography by Sophia Baraket.


Situated in a small village in Portugal is the Taíde House, a renovation of an old mill into a beautiful modern home. The house was thoughtfully designed by Rue Vieira Oliveira and Vasco Manuel Fernandes. The structure is relatively small, so as not to interrupt the surrounding environment. The kitchen, living room, and office are located on the ground floor. Two bedrooms sit on the upper level, accessed by a stunning floating staircase. When looking at the structure, it is easy to determine the old and new. The rough stone base is inherited from the old mill. Everything white is assumed new. The interior, all renovated, uses limited materials: white for the walls, hardwood floors, and marble in the bathrooms. The result is a truly minimal design. Each element of Taíde House is expertly curated, creating a home that falls nothing short of perfection. Photography by Fernando Guerra FG+SG.


Pâtisserie À la Folie is a lovely little bake shop in Montréal, Canada. Designed by the Montréal based firm Atelier Moderno, this shop uses a minimal, neutral palette to show off the baked goods. The interior is a renovation of a former retail space. Existing concrete floors and exposed brick are painted in a warm, soft gray tone. Natural wood panelling has been added to parts of the ceiling and walls as a contrast to all the gray. A few hanging lights illuminate the register and display cases. While the design of this bakery is stunning, the real star of this interior are the rows and rows of colorful macaroons, pastries, and cakes. I love how the store’s simple palette highlights the goods for sale. Pâtisserie À la Folie is a bakeshop not easily missed on the streets of Montréal!


This studio is the stunning headquarters of Norm Architects, a firm based in Copenhagen. Norm Architects are experts at combining traditional Scandinavian design with a modern palette. It is only fitting that the studio they created for themselves would represent this lovely design philosophy. Located in a classic building on a cobblestone street, this studio is the perfect setting for collaboration and creative production. The office features several conference tables, sitting areas, and displays of the firm’s work. Everything in the office follows a monochrome color palette. The grey, white, and black tones are an ideal backdrop for architecture and design work. The simplicity and impeccable details in this studio are hallmarks of Norm’s designs. I couldn’t imagine a better space for this intelligent and creative team to work in.