Minimalissimo


Jillian Japka

True design needs no ornamentation.

Overlooking the seaside in Greece is the elegant Villa Melana. Created by local designers Panagiotis Papassotiriou and Valia Foufa, the focal point of the home is the spectacular view of the sea and sky. Each of the main living areas was designed to take in the stunning Greek environment, and the materials used were carefully selected to incorporate the home into the natural landscape. On the exterior, rough stone walls tie the home in with the rocky surrounding landscape. Bright white walls contrast with the stone façade. The white walls also reflect the sun, which helps the house stay cool in the dry heat. Climate-appropriate landscaping, wood terraces, and stone paths create an inviting outdoor atmosphere. The stone continues on the interior, providing a welcome connection to the landscape outside. Walls of glass provide a view to the pool while sleek doors open to a covered terrace. Adjacent to the terrace, the infinity pool pairs perfectly with the soft Mediterranean water. Just imagine the lazy days and perfect nights at this seaside getaway. What could be more perfect?


Rob Kennon Architects designed this lovely family home located in a suburb of Melbourne, Australia. Burnley House is a perfect example of beautiful and liveable modern design. The home is divided into private and public areas, distinguished by a clever use of materials. The public areas of are filled with airy materials and a plethora of natural light, while the private rooms are smaller, darker, and cozy. The large and open great room features tall ceilings and a stretch of white cabinetry. Long, sleek windows occupy a position on every wall and wood floors bring a pleasant texture into the room. In the bedrooms, the walls are clad in a deep brown wood and the floors are covered with soft rugs. The mix of materials in Burnley House is flawless. Concrete, wood, black-framed windows, and smooth white surfaces are incorporated throughout the home, creating visual interest and continuity of design. I love how the furnishings completely compliment the surfaces and textures of the structure. Every piece of Burnley House is seamlessly pulled together, creating a structure any family would be lucky to call home.


La Piscina del Roccolo is a luxurious indoor swimming pool designed by Italian architecture firm act_romegialli. The concept for the project was to create a pool and bathing house that would capitalize on the view of the countryside. The result is a humble structure nestled in the hilly site. On the western end of the building is a long stretch of windows placed adjacent to the pool. The windows visually connect the pool to its landscape all year round. In the warmer months this wall slides open, creating an indoor/outdoor bathing experience. Much of the structure is housed underground so as to impede the landscape as little as possible. The locker rooms and fitness center are placed in this underground area, allowing the pool an interrupted view to the outside. White mosaic tiles mingle with oak accents and exposed concrete on the interior. This marriage of materials brings depth and dimension to an otherwise simple space. On the exterior, stone walls and plenty of plant life ensure the structure stays integrated with its environment. La Piscina del Roccolo is an ideal space for exercise, relaxation, and connecting with nature.


Micro-Apartment Moabit is the result of a creative renovation by Berlin-based design studio spamroom. This tiny Berlin apartment was in need of a unique renovation not only because of its small size, but because of its early 1900’s construction. Like many buildings built at the turn of the century, this apartment featured several small and crowded rooms and was heavy with layers of renovations from previous owners. The design plan was to open up the space by removing all of the interior walls and rebuild an interior system that maximized the potential of every square meter. A central core was created to hold the kitchen and bathroom, and a mezzanine, accessed by a small white staircase, was added for the sleeping space. This simple design takes advantage of typically wasted space, such as tall ceilings and stair landings, to create a supremely functional living area. Many of the home’s original materials were salvaged during construction and incorporated in the renovated home. As a result, this light and airy design has a touch of Art Nouveau charm. This micro-apartment is just 21 square meters; not a space that most people would jump at living in. But with the right design team, even the tiniest of homes can be...


The subject of this compelling photo series is MBAM, or the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal in Canada. The photography is by Matthew Brooks with assistance from Nathalie Quagliotto. MBAM is documented in a unique manner: rather than focusing on the function of the space, the attention is placed on the details of the architecture. The building is shown from an abstract perspective to spotlight the structural form. Several of the photographs feature a distortion of scale, which reveals the more sculptural qualities of the museum’s construction. In the images, glass and plaster collide in transcendent formations, stairs fall to the edges of the frame like waterfalls, and steel beams appear as delicate as spider webs. These photographs unmask the intricate details of the structure. Museums are used for exhibiting artwork, but, refreshingly, Brooks’ photography puts the museum itself on display.


Penthouse V is a holiday home for a family of seven in Pörtschach, Austria. The Austria based studio destilat positioned the penthouse in the roof structure of a 1930’s cinema. The center of the apartment is a kitchen hidden in plain sight. Gray wall coverings and a matching island integrates the area with the apartment’s design, while white covers hide the utilitarian appliances and cabinetry. An extruding fireplace, set in the same gray tile as the kitchen, is the focal point of the living and dining room. The bedrooms surround the main living area, providing plenty of space for the family and guests. Soft gray flooring mingles with the plaster and asymmetrical tiled walls creating a modern yet cozy aesthetic. A mix of lighting, built-in and hanging from the ceiling, keeps the home well-lit in all areas. Every design element in the apartment is child-friendly, allowing this home to be as functional as it is beautiful.


Casa Na Xemena is a stunning modern home overlooking the Mediterranean in Ibiza, Spain. Ramón Esteve, a design studio based in Valencia, designed the home in 1995 and completed construction in 2003. The site’s natural landscape was crucial in the design of this home. Most of the structure’s form was dictated by the sea, rocky cliffs, and sun. The exterior features a smooth white façade that reflects the heavy Mediterranean sun and contrasts beautifully with the rough cliffs and blue water. Several outdoor terraces are arranged as viewing platforms to gain the best perspective of the sea. A large infinity pool is positioned at a key point on the hillside, so that the line between the pool and the sea is elegantly blurred. The home’s interior keeps the white walls from the façade and features concrete floors and floating staircases. A sprinkling of windows illuminate the home without allowing too much heat inside. Geometric furniture, some of which was designed by Ramón Esteve, is placed in the interior and by the pool. Casa Na Xemena provides a striking response to a remarkable landscape. The house provides a true relationship with the environment, resulting in a magnificent sensory experience for its lucky residents. Photography by Eugeni Pons...


This elegant dark home is located in Shiga, Japan and designed by FORM/Kouichi Kimura Architects. Framing House was built for a small family who desired to live in a habitable art gallery. The home’s name is attributed to the structure’s act of framing key spaces. This framing notion allows each space to feel unique yet still connected to the flow of the house. Three main spaces are carved into the home’s layout: an art gallery, living space, and courtyard. The courtyard links the gallery and living spaces, and has the added benefit of bringing nature and natural light into both areas of the home. In nearly every room of the home, sections of the walls are cut out to frame windows, artwork, countertops, and shelves. These features contribute to the minimal sensibilities of the home by removing the need for stand-alone furniture and hiding clutter. Framing House is not just a home and an art gallery, it is a home as an art gallery. I could not imagine a more beautiful dwelling place. Photography by Yoshihiro Asada.


The Australian Pavilion for the Venice Biennale is complete, just in time for the opening of the 56th Biennale in May of this year. The International Art Exhibit, taking place once every two years, has been held in Venice’s Giardini della Biennale, or the Biennale Gardens, since 1895. It is traditional for architects to design their home country’s pavilion as a unique identifier for their nation. The gardens include works by architecture greats such as Carlo Scarpa, Gerrit Rietveld, and Alvar Aalto. Australia’s Pavilion was in major need of an update: the country had been using the same temporary structure since 1988. Designed by Melbourne-based firm Denton Corker Marshall, the new pavilion’s dark square mass looms powerfully over its bordering canal. The facade is made from large slabs of black granite which protrude at points, allowing natural light to enter the windowless interior. The entrance floats on a concrete terrace, accessed by a dark steel ramp. On the canal side, the structure cantilevers slightly; this subtle gesture both embraces and respects the distinct environment. The interior is a clean, white box: the perfect canvas for various art exhibits. Australia’s sculpture-like pavilion is sure to be a hit at this Biennale and many...


This unassuming family home in Finland is designed by OOPEAA, or Office for Peripheral Architecture. OOPEAA strives for an architecture that finds its inspiration in the state of being in-between – between urban and rural, but always in relationship to both; between a deep respect for tradition and an appreciation of the contemporary. House Riihi is the perfect example of OOPEAA’s mission. House Riihi is reminiscent of a traditional Finnish cottage, stationed alone in an often snowy field in the small village of Alajärvi. The home is comprised of three buildings: the main house, a garage, and a lofted studio. The pale wood structure sits low to the ground and is arranged around an inner garden. This arrangement is inspired by Finnish farms, where cottages were positioned around a central courtyard. With this composition, the garden is protected from the harsh climate and becomes a peaceful refuge all year long. The interior is clad from floor to ceiling in natural and white-painted spruce. The light colors allow House Riihi to feel airy and bright, as well as warm and cozy. Minimal furnishings, some matching the spruce of the walls, create an atmosphere of openness where the home’s architecture can really shine. House Riihi is...


This Nendo designed chocolate shop is located in a small storefront plot in Tokyo’s Ginza District. The illustrious Nendo created this shop for the Belgian chocolatiers BbyB, who describe their treats as “haute couture chocolate.” It is only fitting that the BbyB Ginza store be held to the same high standard as the products sold in it. The long and narrow shop is cut in half by a central glass case equipped with rows of drawers to hold the chocolate bars. This glass case lets the colorful packaging of BbyB’s product to take center stage. Nendo designed each flavor to be displayed in its own glass case, with the drawers of the product installed directly behind. This warrants the user to browse the sweets at ease, opening each drawer in search of the perfect treat. The chocolate bar design, printed in white, is displayed on the walls behind the glass case. White marble floor tiles and recessed lighting allow the physicality of the store to melt away, so the customer is only focused on the delicious chocolates in front of them. A cafe is located in the back of the shop and follows a similar design as the front. The glass display case becomes...


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...