Minimalissimo


Jillian Japka

True design needs no ornamentation.

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.


Mass Fradette Residence is a refined modern home in Greenfield Park, Canada. The home was completed in 2012 by Montreal firm Jean Verville Architects. Three interlocking volumes comprise the home’s structure. The volumes contain the garage and entrance, main living area, and upstairs bedrooms. The facade is covered in soft white wood cladding, with strategic openings for windows and outside access. The ground level features an open floor plan with long expanses of floor to ceiling windows. These windows overlook a garden, connecting the home with its surrounding natural environment. The interior is covered in a mix of matte and glossy white surfaces. Overhead lighting keeps things clean and minimal by eliminating the clutter of table and floor lamps. Polished concrete provides a modern, durable surface for the floors. This material continues on the exterior to form the back patios. Three bedrooms and bathrooms are located on the second story, accessed by a dramatic white and concrete staircase. An upstairs terrace provides a private outdoor space for sunbathing or stargazing. I’m obsessed with the unique geometry of Mass Fradette Residence. The blunt angles and crisp white surfaces are undoubtably modern, yet not without an element of playfulness.


Daycare Sundries is a modern kindergarten located southwest of the town Babenhausen in Germany. Designing a school is always a challenge: the structure needs to hold a large percentage of children to adults while keeping everyone occupied and safe. As a result, stark utilitarian structures tend to dominate in the industry. Designed by Ecker Architekten, Daycare Sundries is the exception. On first approach the building gives the impression of a work of art rather than a kindergarten. With a closer look, however, smartly crafted details start to emerge. The structure is segmented into two wings, one for the older students and one for the younger. Four double-height classrooms house the older children on the north end of the site. Built in lockers and cubbies provide no-fuss storage in both halves of the school. The dining hall and gymnasium, used by students of all ages, are the centerpieces of the structure. Tall windows are prevalent on a majority of the exterior walls. The windows warm the school with natural light and views of the peaceful landscape. Pale brick covers other parts of the facade; the material is a nod to the medieval architecture in neighboring towns. Lawns and paved areas around the building provide space for...


House in Possanco is a contemporary home featuring a captivating array of architectural gestures. Designed by the prominent Portuguese firm ARX, this weekend home is located in the arid landscape of Possanco, Portugal. The structure is defined by a pure white facade with strategic carvings, which create windows and skylights. The pristine sheets of white are expertly constructed, allowing the entire building to exude the air of designed precision. Four patios cut through the bold form and are situated throughout the home. A triangular cantilever juts from the side of the building. It is an exciting piece, and it plays with the viewer’s sense of scale and structure. The interior is void of decoration. Instead, long and uniquely formed shadows are splashed along the walls like artwork. The highly geometric roof adds visual interest to any of the home’s interior rooms. The many windows and openings ensure plenty of natural light and views of the exterior landscape. The abstract nature of House in Possanco pushes the viewer to explore further. This is not a structure that can be admired casually: it requires one’s keen attention and an appreciation for the modern and spectacular. Photography by Fernando Guerra FG+SG.


Home 11 is an elegant dwelling in Amsterdam. The structure was previously a large garage. i29 Interior Architects renovated the garage into a modern apartment for two people. The color palette is defined by three materials: white sheetrock, natural oak, and gleaming black surfaces. The elevated kitchen is composed of wooden cabinets and a black island. Step down into the living room and you’ll find an oak wall with black shelving and a small fireplace. The doors to the bedroom and bathroom blend with the wood-clad walls. Skylights run across the ceiling and provide a plethora of natural light. To connect the home with the outdoors, i29 Interior Architects included a small outdoor patio and designed the living room carpet in a green mossy pattern. Home 11 is an incredibly posh dwelling. The materials and furnishings combine to give the home a luxury feel. The skylights are a wonderful addition. Never underestimate the power of simple materials, natural light, and great design. Photography by Ewout Huibers.


Plywood House is a distinct home refurbishment tucked among London’s traditional Victorian row homes. The exterior is comprised of brick and concrete punctured by single framed windows. These materials are splashed throughout the interior as well. Concrete and brick are wonderful raw materials that add visual interest inside and out. However, the most distinguishing feature of this home is its namesake: plywood. Plywood is one of the simplest yet most versatile construction materials. In Plywood House, it is used instead of sheetrock to form the walls and ceilings. The soft wood casts a warm light throughout the minimal interior. Designed by Simon Astridge Architecture Workshop, the living spaces of Plywood House are distributed across two stories. The first floor holds a cast concrete kitchen, dining, and living rooms. The master suite, structured entirely with plywood, fills the second story. I love when modest materials are allowed to take center stage. Plywood House creates a beautiful aesthetic from an often overlooked construction material. Perfect!