Minimalissimo


Jorge San Luis

Keep it simple, stupid!

The Headquarters Building at Science Park at the University of the Basque Country, located next to the University Campus of Leioa, Spain, is a fantastic architectural project developed by ACXT. The building was conceived for being an innovative space to link the business world to the university and students, attracting new companies based on knowledge and technological research. A particularly notable feature of the building is its spectacular north and south façade composed of a double skin, an inside curtain wall and a expanded metal skin outside, with a gateway for maintenance between them. In spite of this, the predominantly white interior is a bright and wonderfully minimalistic space throughout.


Poster is an interesting new project developed by the Japanese studio YOY. It is a series of minimalistic wall lamps that appear as a basic A2-sized poster — a great example of simple and smart design with few elements and an abundance of creativity. The shape of the lamp shade is created in the middle of a sheet of paper with several cuts, to fix to a wall with tape or pins like a poster. The lamp also features a small LED light that is hidden beneath the paper. The final result is quite incredible, whether on white or black, and the ability to print various colours and patterns can onto the surface is an added bonus.


Squared is an education initiative developed by Google and its new identity has a curious story, because it was developed by the young London-based multidisciplinary designer Jack Morgan, after he published his conceptual redesign on his site, catching the attention of Google. I was fortunate enough to discover Squared when it was first introduced and instantly identified with their vision and way of doing things. However, I had always felt that their branding was severely lacking. It wasn’t congruent with their can-do attitude and innovative teaching methods. So Morgan worked on a full rebranding from concept to reality, producing a modern, minimal and instantly understandable new logo with Google’s design philosophy in mind: simple, abstract and colourful with a geeky undertone. The logo also has various references: the brackets of the old logo, playful hand signs like a frame made by the Squared students when posing for pictures together, and, obviously, the initial “S” of Square.


When great creativity is followed by perfect technical work, the result can be something as astonishing as this campaign for the Dutch company Friesland Campina Kievit — promotion of their powdered milk creamers. The fully integrated marketing campaign was created by Norvell Jefferson agency, where the Belgian photographer Jeffrey Vanhoutte developed a lovely photo shoot, capturing the acrobatic dancer Noi Pakon moving with fine particles of powdered milk. Without doubt, a remarkable and complicated collaboration that investigates many of aspects such as motion, still and light, to create a plain and pure result. You can also the watch the fantastic making-of video.


Nike has re-launched the Nike Zvezdochka Shoe — a design by award-winning industrial designer Marc Newson — initially released in 2004. The shoe is inspired by what he saw astronauts wearing at the Russian Space Institute. Even the name was taken from a Russian dog sent into space in 1961. The shoe has a modular design with four interchangeable parts, to combine them together or separately, depending on the use and the environment: the injection-molded TPU outer cage, the interlocking outsole, the inner sleeve, and the insole. The Nike Zvezdochka Shoe will be re-launched in its original five colours through Nike’s NIKELAB locations and online from last December, marking its tenth anniversary.


Global L is a new wall absorbents collection designed by the Swedish designers Johan Kauppi & Bertil Harström for the company Glimakra of Sweden. In this collaboration the company wanted something genuine from its own area to offer the global customers, so the inspiration was found in the traditional Swedish old façades and roofs of wood. The result is two patterns gathered under the name “L” as in Local, available in two groups by size — long panels and short panels, which can be used freely for creation of unique walls. They have a load-bearing frame in MDF, a sound-absorbing padding of polyurethane foam and upholstery in a wide offer of fabrics, making all manufacturing and production at Glimakra of Sweden with great craftsmanship.


w151 is another wonderful lamp collection developed by the Swedish architecture and design trio Claesso Koivisto Rune. It was designed for Swedish company Wästberg, and will be presented during next year’s Stockholm Furniture and Light Fair. The collection is available in a range of powder-coated colour finishes and consists of a set of three enormous cone-shapes — well over a metre in width or height. CKR explains: Based on the most basic of geometrical shapes — the cone — all three are super-sized, pushing the limits of manufactured, spun aluminium, yet fitting through a normal doorframe. Paired with careful control of the fine details and the paper-like matt finishes, the lamp is almost illusory; dream-like — when experienced in reality.


String Series is a work in steel developed by the London based designer Dean Edmonds, with it also being an homage to the string chair. Without doubt, an interesting experiment that uses the resistance of the steel to create a minimalist and light chair design, contrasting with the appearance of the steel. The designer explains: By using an all steel construction the string has become a structural element, in turn, reducing the structure itself. Although at first brutal in appearance I hope to show the beauty and fragility that steel can possess much like the string of the chair that was at first the inspiration.


A hundred years after the start of the First World War in 1914, The International Memorial Notre-Dame de Lorette was inaugurated last week, to reconcile the 580,000 casualties of the war in northern France. With a great sense of respect, regardless of nationality, rank or religion, all names have been written in alphabetical order on three-metre high walls, along a giant elliptical ring comprised of concrete for the exterior, and inset with 500 copper-toned panels. The memorial has been designed be the architect Philippe Prost and explains that he looked for a sense of unity with this form: I was thinking about the rings you make when you’re a child, or a human ring when everyone holds each other’s hands in a sign of fellowship, and that seemed to me like the image, the form, best suited to speaking about these soldiers killed in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, and who today are brought together all in one place. Brusque and delicate at the same time, symbolic and sensitive, a work full of emotion that does not leave indifference.


This set of minimal Basket Containers is one of the lastest projects developed by Nendo. The Japanese design studio has collaborated with Kanaami-Tsuji, a Kyoto-based wire netting firm that preserves the craft’s traditions and develops it for contemporary living. Nendo explains the result: The carefully constructed basket, composed of individually hand-bent wires, is supported by its frame, making a slender table useful for placing small objects, and perfect for a tight space like an entryway, bathroom or space between a sofa and the wall. The all black and white containers are available in three heights, rectangular or oval shape, with basket form or flat shape as available options. A notable detail is that the legs are more slender than the eyes of the netting, allowing the tables to be stacked and combined.


Fusionner 3.0: Air House is a new installation developed by the Japanese designer Kotaro Horiuchi — embedded into the gallery of Aichi Shukutoku University. The installation inserts visitors into a house of air, using paper as an architectural material. The white layers are suspended from the ceiling throughout the space as a repetition of the silhouette of a house, progressively changing its size and form, until you reach a small window. Horiuchi explains: When you went inside by making your body smaller, you could slowly notice a silhouette of a house, which seemed to change its size continuously. You were able to experience the air spreading in it and discover models hidden between the papers. You could gather, discuss, enjoy the moment and even lie down for a different perspective.


Located in the landscape of the island of Hirvensalo, Finland, the exterior of the St. Henry’s Ecumenical Art Chapel stands out for its copper surface, that will be weathered green with time to be in harmony with the sorrounding trees and nature. After a small entrance foyer, there is the grand hall, shaped like a fish’s stomach, symbol of first Christians, with the altar at the end of the axis, illuminated through windows with artworks by artist Hannu Konola. There is also a gallery in the rear of the space, so the exhibitions and the ceremonies coexist in the same space, much like in the Renaissance churches. The chapel, a project by Sanaksenaho Architects, has a loadbearing structure of curved ribs of laminated pine and walls covered with untreated wooden lining, where there is an emphasized contrast between light and shadow. The architects explain: The most important building material besides wood and copper is natural light. It gets the forms, spaces and surfaces live all day long. The idea is to walk through shadowy spaces towards altar and the light, the source of which is hidden.