Minimalissimo


Jillian Japka

True design needs no ornamentation.

Sarah Oppenheimer is challenging the distinction between art and architecture with a unique collection of windows and wall openings. Using wall incisions and glass as her mediums, Oppenheimer blurs the line between room and painting. From 2012 to present, Oppenheimer’s work has been featured in the PPOW Gallery in New York City, as well as in Kunsthaus Baselland and Von Bartha Garage in Switzerland. While each piece is unique in its form and location, they all bear striking similarities. Glass and black aluminum jut from the walls in a playful geometry. Each opening looks different from various angles and distances. These pieces play with the mind as they distort the structural components of the room and challenge our perception of size and space. The use of glass and cut-outs invites the user to interact with the work by looking out a window or passing through a doorway. In this sense Oppenheimer’s series is firmly rooted in architecture, as we rarely get the chance to interact with art in this way. Yet it is impossible not to relate the aesthetic of these pieces to the oversized cubist paintings of artists past and present. These gorgeous designs are architecture, painting, and sculpture all at once; a combination...


Index Ventures is a creative capital venture company based in San Francisco. When the office needed a major expansion, Garcia Tamjidi Architecture Design stepped in with a straightforward design focused on natural light. Incorporating natural light into the workplace is a desire for any creative team, however most office designs allow for very few windows. Garcia Tamjidi solved this problem by introducing new skylights in key areas of the office. The entry, cafe, and boardroom are located in the center of the office and designed to make the most out of the sunlight. The rest of the office seamlessly flows from the entrance, with large sheets of glass and gray walls forming barriers as needed. Exposed brick walls and wood beams add a touch of charm from the original structure. The furnishings are simple, functional, and white. A gorgeous sculpture hangs from one of the skylights, bringing a bit of the surreal into the office. Index Ventures is certainly not your typical workspace: it is a space for true inspiration and collaboration. Photography by Joe Fletcher.


The small and secluded Bolton Residence is located in Eastern Quebec. Designed by the Canadian based firm Naturehumaine, this elegant home focuses on nature and simplicity. The structural form takes its shape from the traditional barns in the region, yet this vernacular is interpreted in a distinctly modern way. Two large rectangles, positioned one on top of the other, form the structure of the home. The top rectangle cantilevers slightly out from the lower, allowing the house to feel as if it is floating along the mountainside. A dark exterior distinguishes the structure from its often snowy landscape. On the interior, long and narrow windows wrap the living room, flooding the home with stunning views of its mountainous setting. The fireplace is uniquely positioned in a media cabinet, which also provides storage. Accents of wood and black create a dynamic interior, bringing depth and light to the small space. This color scheme continues in the bedroom and in the dark tile of the bathroom. Bolton Residence may be small, but it is not short on style. Photography by Adrien Williams and David Dworkind.


Prazeres, or Pleasures, rests on an unassuming street in the Alcântara district of Portugal. From the exterior, this home looks very similar to its traditionally designed neighbors. On the interior, however, José Adrião Arquitectos transformed the home into a bright and airy paradise. For many years this building was allowed to fall into disrepair. When renovations began its interior was in danger of collapsing, forcing the architects to replace the floors with three slabs of concrete. The new floors divide the building into two main areas: a functional core, for utilities and bathrooms, and open space for the living areas. One of my favorite features of Prazeres is the rooftop terrace. This space is smartly designed as an extension of the interior living spaces, forming a casual environment that can be used all year long. Overall, Prazeres is a gorgeous renovated structure that any family would be happy to call home. Photography by Fernando Guerra FG + SG.


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.