Minimalissimo


Jorge San Luis

Keep It Simple!

Menu has just launched the Chair #01  at the Salone Satellite in Milan this week. Designed by Stockholm studio Afteroom, the beautiful chair has a minimal solid-steel structure with three legs and back support and seat comprised of oak. Afteroom’s Hung-Ming Chen explains: The Afteroom Chair is an homage to Bauhaus and functionalism. The simplicity of its design combined with the quality of materials is what’s important. It is based on the concept of reducing the amount of materials to the minimum and by doing so pushing the aesthetic appearance to the maximum. The chair is available in black and white, and the collection also includes a stackable side table and a stoneware caddy.


Arkki lamp collection was designed by the Swedish product and interior designer Johan Kauppi, and was recently produced by BLOND Belysning. The name Arkki, Finnish for ark, derives from the fixtures ability to balance technique with soft shapes while somewhat resembling a craft or a capsule. The shapes are also an expression of a moderate tradition in the north. Each LED lamp is made with either a single or two joined shells of pressed felt. The family consists of ceiling fixtures and pendants, with a direct or indirect light distribution. Standard colours available are black, grey and white. I would consider the ceiling lamp a particularly strong design because of the perfect integration on the ceiling.


It is well known that for many years great design has come from the north of Europe, and this is another perfect example: Design From Finland, a project by the brand design agency Wekling from Finland -obviously- to indicate the origin of Finnish Design, a mark that grants The Association for Finnish Work. Wekling explains: Our approach to the design was very pragmatic. The mark has to work in internationally, so the words “Design from Finland” are required to make the mark’s meaning immediately understandable. We felt the mark also needed a visual clue or mnemonic that is memorable and recognizable. The “F:” -symbol meets this requirement, and can also be read as an abbreviation for “from Finland”. In addition, the “F:” -symbol has been designed to look like the Finnish flag. Wekling produced the circle shape as it is widely used in design objects and thus fits the visual language of many of the products it will be associated with. A simple design that transmits its message with intelligent solutions. The result? Elegance, efficacy and coherence. Bravo!


Recently opened to the public is the Infinity Bamboo Forest, a spectacular passage in a public annex building located in Wuxi, China. The installation is a reference to the traditional Japanese culture with its characteristic bamboo forests, and from the beginning experienced limitations of space, time and budget. So the result cannot be more magnificent, developing a passage of twenty meters as an infinity bamboo forest essentially using a combination of light and mirrors. The design of the installation was conceived by Prism Design, a Shanghai-based architecture and design studio, founded in 2009 by Tomohiro Katsuki.


Halo is a hanging lamp designed by the Spanish designer Martín Azúa for the also Spanish lighting manufacturer Vibia. There are two versions of the ceiling lamp available — with circular or straight pieces, that create a subtle and magical lighting effect, seemingly floating in the open space with its great formal lightness, due to the designer’s use of LED technology and PMMA plastic. The result is stunning. Halo is available in matt white lacquer, and much like other recent Vibia products, it has been developed with a variety of configurations in mind, depending on the needs of each space. I like this.


For the fashion house Rubens Luciano, Italian architect Simone Micheli has designed this spectacular office and showroomm inside a 19th century building near Venice, Italy. Its main feature is perhaps the careful use of light and glass, emphasized by the large open working spaces, the white furniture and walls, and the rounded edges and organic shapes along all elements of the building. On the other hand, the integration of these contemporary elements with the antique building is perfect, achieving a balance in some rooms and contrasting in others — yet always in harmony and very meticulous with each detail and finish. All previous elements of the building give to the project a great personality that makes it unique and distinguished. I like this.


Some months ago Moving Brands designed a new identity for Blank Digital, a New York-based boutique retouching and digital capture company. Blank were seeking a more effective strategy in order to help establish relationships with the top luxury, fashion and media businesses of the world. Moving Brands explains the design: We defined their brand narrative as ‘realizing image potential’ – an ambitious stance that focuses on the real business benefit they offer. The monochromatic identity system has an attitude and an edginess to appeal to their high-fashion audience. The mark references Blank’s own editing process; it appears to be at the point of mid-creation, but still elegant. The soft colour palette and typeface nod to the family-focused values and love of tailored, crafted elements, and characteristics of the business that were often referenced in workshops with the Blank founders. Most importantly, the system provides a sophisticated, flexible foundation from which their own work can shine. A wonderful piece of work, from the physical to the digital media, that set a guide for all applications of the brand, being a perfect mix between sophistication, simplicity and neutrality.


Factory Building on the Vitra Campus is the result of incredible work by the Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, who founded the studio SANAA almost 20 years ago, and won the Pritzker prize in 2010. The single circular factory is used by Vitrashop, a shop fitting company within the Vitra Group. Its interesting shape is explained: This proposal, which at first seemed unusual, was based on the realization that logistics and production methods no longer adhere to strictly hierarchical principles, but require flexibility. This was especially true in the case of the future occupants of the new facility. The circular footprint of the building permits the delivery and loading of goods in completely different locations, so that the flow of traffic inside the hall is reduced, optimized and simplified. The factory is more than 160 metres in diameter and reaches 11.4 metres in height, with a singular and characteristic facade, made of acrylic glass with three wave patterns on the  surface to avoid a visual repetition, seeming infinite and homogeneous.


Cowrie Chair is an elegant and attractive design inspired by the concave lines of sea shells, being its curvilinear shape possible after an extensive research and innovation process that combines handmade and digital tecnology. The result is a brilliant single surface monocoque fold formed in Ash faced plywood with either a natural or ebonised finish, something that also gives it a great feeling of contuinity and simplicity. Cowrie Chair is part of the Cowrie collection that includes an elegant rocking lounger too, all designed and developed by Brodie Neill, the creative director of Made in Ratio, a new brand launched this past April in Milan.


It think that the project of the award-winning Japanese architect Tadao Ando for Tom Ford’s ranch could not be more beautiful, with its modern, clean and minimalist lines and shapes throughout as well as the detail of the construction. The plain concrete walls are maybe the most characteristic of the project with the abrupt contrast of light, as well as the road on the small lake. It is located outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and has almost 100,000 square meter, being perfectly integrated with the arid lands of the state due to a rustic palette of colors.


Fusion are two wonderful wooden knives developed by the Italian designer Andrea Ponti. They are available in two sizes and colors, and also two types of blade for different uses: serrated and non-serrated. They have been made as a limited edition by Issei Hanaoka, an artist and craftsman from Japan. The combination of industrial design, craftsmanship and cultures has certainly proved to be a successful one, as Ponti explains: Two cultures and two design languages usually far apart from one another blend in the common language of design and tell the story of a project that spans from research to the creation of innovative products for markets around the world. This design and cultural blend produced Fusion. Both knives feature ergonomic grips and the packaging is a re-design of the traditional Japanese boxes called kiribako, that enclose and protect them form humidity.


100 Colors is a solo exhibition created by the French-born and Tokyo-based architect Emmanuelle Moureaux, as part of the 17-day art event Shinjuku Creators Festa 2013. As its name suggests, the installation is formed of 100 different hues of color along 840 sheets of paper neatly suspended from the ceiling, which were provided by leading Japanese paper manufacturer Takeo. The whole combination creates an amazing volume of vibrant color where each sheet creates a gradual transition to the next. Beneath the installation there are bean bags to invite visitors to watch and admire the piece from different perspectives. The 100 colors are also featured on the wall in small circles, allowing the visitors to indicate their preference in color.