Minimalissimo


Jillian Japka

True design needs no ornamentation.

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 lovely family home in Carrara, Italy is the result of a full renovation by Victor Vasilev Architect. The original home was designed in traditional farmhouse style, but the residents’ wanted a more contemporary home. Vasilev’s distinct Soldati home satisfies all cravings for modernity. The floor plan is simple: living spaces on the ground floor and bedrooms above. A large porch provides an outdoor sanctuary in the back of the home. The exterior was kept traditional: a nod to the home’s original styling. The beauty of Soldati is in the composition of the interior materials. Square volumes are structured to create walls, floors, stairs, and furniture. Comprised of travertine, teak, black granite, and white sheetrock, the volumes are nestled together in unique arrangements. My favorite design moment is the staircase: the floating travertine treads against the white walls exude elegance and charm. Furnishings are scattered among the interior like sculptures in a gallery. Furniture rarely matches architecture as seamlessly as in Soldati. The choice of materials, attention to detail, and combination of old and new make Soldati a portrait of modern residential design.


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!


Aroeira III is an elegant dwelling located on a sunny, arid hilltop in Portugal. The home is designed by ColectivArquitectura, a small architectural office located in Lisbon, Portugal. The thoughtful design seeks to maximize sun exposure and work with the sloped landscape. The structure is u-shaped and divided among two low-lying levels. This building is refreshingly honest about its structure both inside and out. The reinforced concrete foundation is visible throughout the exterior, while steel support beams puncture the wood and glass facade. These classic materials continue on the interior. Exposed concrete walls and floors are juxtaposed with wood panelling and stairs. The floor to ceiling windows keep everything bright and airy. Aroeira III embraces a design that is as beautiful as it is timeless. This is surely a home that will be admired for years to come. Photography by FG+SG Architectural Photography.


A gorgeous white form is located in a hilly, rural area of Luxembourg. Simply called Luxembourg House, this structure is designed to create dynamic spaces inside and out. The home was designed by the infamous Richard Meier, an architect who has received worldwide recognition for his minimal buildings. Long walls of white tile and full length windows form the exterior structure. This layout anchors the home to its site and creates panoramic views of the environment. On the interior, the layout defines the public and private spaces. A large staircase rests inside a light-filled atrium; this staircase is the main mode of circulation throughout the home. The lower level of the house is mostly utilitarian: it contains parking and a fitness center. The living and dining rooms are nestled along a wall of windows on the ground floor, and the kitchen and playroom sit on the north side of this level. The uppermost story contains the bedrooms and study. Terraces on all floors embrace the light from the large windows and balconies. I love the thoughtful design of Luxembourg House. Every space in this structure was deliberately designed by Richard Meier and his team. The result is a house where every corner is full...


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.