Minimalissimo


Jillian Japka

True design needs no ornamentation.

FREAKS Free Architects recently designed this one-story apartment in downtown Geneva, Switzerland. Completed this year, Geneva Flat is arranged to utilise every inch of space and does so brilliantly. The open floor plan is divided by thin white walls and panes of glass. Most of the walls serve more than one function. The walls become a wardrobe, bookshelf, and even a platform for the bed. The glass is a room separator but still allows each space of the apartment to feel connected. It also creates a bright and airy aesthetic throughout the home. Geneva Flat is decorated with monochrome furnishings and an artful light fixture. The gray and white palate of this apartment couldn’t be more simple. Yet, in a space as austere as Geneva Flat, every material is crucial to forming a comprehensive design scheme. Each element was chosen which great care, resulting in a composition that is both minimal and luxurious.


Taipei Apartment is a clean white apartment in Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan. The apartment was designed for a young couple by Tai & Architectural Design. The couple wanted a beautiful dwelling that didn’t require much renovation. The architects answered their request with a bright and causal living environment. Every surface of the apartment, from the floor to the ductwork in the ceiling, is painted white. The whiteness is intended to celebrate the purity of the space. The living room features a grey sofa, pastel-colored end tables, and a projector screen. Across the room is the dining area which includes a white table, wooden chairs, and built-in shelving. A wall of glass highlights the view of the city and opens to a small balcony. A narrow hallway leads to the bedroom and study. These rooms are furnished similar to the living room: white and wood furniture accented with soft colors. I love how such a simple design can express so much character. The white interior is the perfect backdrop for the residents’ colorful furniture and textiles. The stark interior allows these objects to pop and bring personality to the space. Taipei Apartment is sure to be a hit with the current and future occupants.


Koya No Sumika is an extension to a traditional home in Yaizu, Japan. The extension was designed for a young couple by mA-style Architects. The Japanese firm came up with a modern design with space saving solutions. The result is a refreshing juxtaposition to the traditional architecture of the original home. The exterior is a balance between white cement board and natural wood. The mix of crisp white and warm wood continues on the interior. The lofted ceiling features triangles of unfinished wood. White walls frame the lower portion of the home, sprinkled on both sides with built-in furniture. The decor is bare, just a few plants and lightbulbs strung from the ceilings. A simple courtyard garden adds a touch of green and connects the expansion with the original building. Koya No Sumika is a gorgeous structure inside and out. The materials are arranged so as to add character to the space, without losing its minimal appeal. Overall, this is a charming home expansion that the residents will enjoy for years to come.


This florist’s home in Japan’s Mie prefecture was designed to inspire the resident’s craft. The dwelling was completed by Japanese firm Shinichi Ogawa & Associates in May of this year. Florist Studio utilizes a refreshing simple design to offer seamless views for a creative live/work space. The most stunning feature of the home is the glass walls that span the entire length of the building. The glass is held in place by the floor and roof slabs; this structure eliminates the need for view-impeding columns. The long stretch of windows is reminiscent of a painting in a gallery. The gallery aesthetic continues throughout the home. A cantilevered counter runs the full length of the structure, forming a bed headboard and bathroom vanity on one end, and an office desk on the other. Carefully chosen furniture is placed in the other rooms. The attention paid to each detail makes the whole home feel like a work of art. Florist Studio a perfect dwelling for its resident and its environment.


Shirahama Roh Pinggu is a small seaside home designed by Okuwada Architects Office. Located in Wakayama, Japan, this single story home is structured to work with the island landscape. The sand and sea are on the southern side of the home, while mountains surround the other three sides. The southern wall of windows embraces the sea views. The kitchen and living room are situated in this part of the home. The mountain facing rooms contain more private areas, such as the bedrooms and bathrooms. Wooden floors connect the home with the forest behind it. A white and glass facade, and a galvanized steel roof, complete the home’s light and airy aesthetic. I love the simple design of this resort home. The soft colors and low lying structure minimize the visual impact the home has on the environment. The simple interior allows the residents to direct their focus out towards the landscape. Overall, Shirahama Roh Pinggu is a lovely vacation dwelling for a family. Photography by Tada Yuko / Yuko Tada Photography.


House for Mother is a simple home on a rural plot of land in Linköping, Sweden. Designed by FAF Architects, the home is composed of three staggered volumes. The foremost volume holds the entrance of the home and the kitchen, dining, and living rooms. The bedrooms and studio are located in the second volume. The third is a bathroom and laundry room. The rooms are sparse in material and furnishings. The interior features timber ceilings, plywood walls, and a polished concrete floor. These raw materials allow the home to feel modest, but not under-designed. Built in furniture completes the minimal aesthetic. The facade is covered in corrugated aluminum, lending the exterior an industrial chic look. I love how FAF Architects plays with the traditional house archetype. While the shape of House for Mother is classic, the materials and window placement are unexpected. All in all, House for Mother is an no-fuss design that doesn’t fail to captivate its viewer’s interest.


Situated on the Sado River in Portugal is a remarkably simple dwelling known as Cabanas no Rio. Designed by Manuel Aires Mateus, this home is split between two cabin structures. The private and public spaces are divided between the two forms: one holds the kitchen and living room, and the other contains the bedroom. The rooms are small and furnished only with necessities: a few sitting pieces and a bed. Benches and storage are built into the structure of the cabins. An outdoor shower rests along the side of the home. The facade is covered in raw wood, an incredibly elegant yet  unfussy material. The wood connects the home with its river landscape. A small jetty reaches out from the entrance of the structure. The cabins are only accessible by boat, a feature which adds to the modesty of life on the Sado River. There is nothing more pleasing than simple elegance. This home is void of any fancy or unneeded elements, yet it still feels luxurious. I wouldn’t want anything more.


Nestled in a suburban neighborhood in Toronto, Canada is the delightfully modern Blantyre House. Completed in 2011 by Williamson Chong Architects, this house was designed with a focus on incorporating light into long and narrow spaces. Tall windows cover both ends of the thin house. Using windows of this height brings light deeper into the dwelling. The interior features a great room with an impressive kitchen unit. Floor to ceiling cabinetry provides storage and a clean, bright aesthetic. The dining table is incorporated with the kitchen island to save space in the shallow room. The second floor also features large windows which illuminate a small living area. The uppermost level of the home holds the master bedroom. Smaller windows and white walls provide a quiet sanctuary for sleeping. My favorite feature of Blantyre House are the windows. I love how every window is unique to the wall and room it hangs. The windows provide the home with a plethora of natural light and are also angled so as to provide the best views of the trees and sky. Photography by Bob Gundu.


Cliff House is a simple yet stunning residence on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. Scotland’s own Dualchas Architects designed the structure to maximize the breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. The home is a single story with two bedrooms, two baths, and a great room for the kitchen and living areas. Every room, even the bathrooms, feature floor to ceiling windows. The windows flood the home with natural light and gorgeous views. Cliff House’s facade is clad in a silvery-brown lumber and warm gray stone, both of which were sourced locally. The low-lying structure, as well as the use of natural materials, allows Cliff House to integrate seamlessly into its environment. I love the view of the home from afar, it almost looks like it grew from the earth itself! Photography by Andrew Lee and Alistair Nicholls.


The Farnsworth House is a modern icon and a personal favorite of mine. Designed by the legendary Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969), this timeless structure was completed for  Dr. Edith Farnsworth in 1951. The home is a small, one room retreat that hovers just above the ground in a rural Illinois setting. Floor to ceiling windows cover every inch of the exterior walls, punctuated by structural I-beams. The only opaque walls exist in a central core containing the bathroom, kitchen, and utilities closet. The furnishings are minimal and are mostly designed by Mies van der Rohe himself. The Farnsworth House’s clean lines, structural purity, and simple form are all classic features of mid-century modernism. At this time, removing the traditional clutter of walls, doors, and decoration was entirely unprecedented. As a result, Farnsworth House was famous even before its completion. A model of the home was first exhibited in New York City’s Museum of Modern Art in 1947, four years before the building’s completion. The Farnsworth House has been in countless publications and exhibits since then. Unfortunately, the home has had several structural problems over the years, most notably its susceptibility to flooding. However, restoration effects are constantly in place, ensuring that the Farnsworth House...


M Residence is yet another stunning dwelling by acclaimed architecture firm Shinichi Ogawa & Associates. Completed in 2013 and located in Fukui, Japan, M Residence is a remarkably simple home for two families. One half of the structure houses a young couple and child, while the other is home to the child’s grandmother. Both halves of the home are nearly identical. The interiors feature an open-floor plan. The lack of walls lends a fluidity to the space and cuts out cumbersome square footage. Furniture is limited to only the necessities. Sliding panels are placed along the southern wall of the home, allowing the space easy exposure to the outdoors. Shared spaces include the porch, car park, and garden. M Residence is the perfect solution to living with extended family. Both families can enjoy the comfort and convenience of living so close, yet their divided spaces can easily feel a world apart. That Shinichi Ogawa & Associates were able to achieve this while maintaining the design’s effortless and minimal aesthetic is equally impressive.


Villa E is a luxury Moroccan home designed by Studio KO. Studio KO is formed of architects Karl Fournier and Olivier Marty, and the firm is based in both Paris and Morocco. Their architectural style expertly blends eastern and western design. Villa E is a lodge located at the base of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. Viewed from below, the home appears to be a castle or fortress looming above the rugged countryside. But step closer and you’ll find a warm and comforting home with a distinct style. The facade is of Villa E is covered in Ouriko stone, a red, brick-like stone which is locally sourced and characteristic to the architecture of the region. The windows are carefully placed to create the most airflow and eliminate direct sunlight. In a hot climate such as Morocco’s architects must tailor their designs around the powerful desert sun. The interior features high quality materials such as marble and slate, as well as traditional Moroccan furnishings and artwork. And of course, every room with an oversize window is arranged to maximize the stunning view of the mountains. Villa E is perfectly suited to its harsh environment. I love how the design can be traditional and contemporary, luxurious and minimal. Every element pairs together effortlessly for...