Minimalissimo


Jorge San Luis

Keep It Simple, Stupid!

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.


Less is the story of a wine lover who wanted to make good wine affordable for all. His idea was simple: remove the superfluous and keep the essential. By selling his wine in bulk, our client aimed to reinvent the customer experience, inviting shoppers to fill their bottles directly from wooden casks at his shop. This way is how Landor introduces the magnificent branding project that was created for Less — a minimalist identity that reflects the brand’s goals, whilst communicating only what is necessary, removing the superfluous and going beyond aesthetics. Following this discourse, the identity appears only by removing material, either sandblasted on bottles or cut out on recycled paper, showing four slightly modified stripes to form the word Less. The packaging also becomes bespoke with the label customized by a drop of the wine it contains. I also suggest watching the superb video brand presentation, because for this project, D&AD Awards honored Landor’s work by featuring it in their Branding book of 2014.


The new headquarters of the Benéfico Social Padre Rubinos Institution is an impressive building financed by the Amancio Ortega Foundation and developed by Elsa Urquijo Architects. Opened last week and located in A Coruña, Spain, the building features the following facilities for people in a social emergency situation: hostel/refuge for transient people with no resources or home; redidence for the elderly and day centre with charitable nature; infants’ school for children born in families in a precarious financial situation; and the Padre Rubinos social headquarters. In total, a size of more than 15.000m2, the architects explain: It is a building that renounces the academic composition of the facade and turns it in a front porch that surrounds and defines the square. This invites us to move in that protected porch, discovering the different spaces that are linked to it, creating a frame in which life can flow and develop. A truly wonderful project with a predominantly white colour palette, where luminosity and horizontal lines produce a stable, calm and relaxing environment, and every detail is carefully considered.


Prism mirror table is a remarkable project developed by the Tokyo based designer Tokujin Yoshioka for Glas Italia, a historic manufacturer of glass furniture with a long standing tradition. The table is comprised of thick high-transparency mirror glass, and it was made possible using innovative cutting techniques. Yoshioka explains: With the cut technique on glass surface, it gives off clear and miraculous sparkling expressed by the refraction of light like a prism. This piece is a table like a shimmering sculpture reflecting the view of surroundings as if water surface be. This simple and poetic result was presented during the last Salone del Mobile in Milan.


Sostre is an urban canopy designed by the Spanish studio Fran Silvestre Arquitectos, that references traditional structures of mediterranean cultures to provide service to a restaurant with more space. When it is not in use, it gives service to the citizens as a meeting point, playground or a shade to stand, and not interfering with their transit because of its geometry with only two support points. Sostre is comprised of a solid surface material that covers a metallic structure, generating a minimalist and continuous block. In addition, Sostre has lighting, sound, air conditioning as well as a retractable shading device to produce a more intimate setting.


The brand and innovation firm Wolff Olins has developed this beautifully simple project for Infotech Enterprises, an Indian firm specialised in engineering and data services. Seeking a strategic change, the new brand Cyient was created to generate new customers, talent and even acquisitions, starting a new chapter after two decades. The new identity for Cyient is incredibly simple in its design, with a customised “E” with a dot for the logo and for the communication — a characteristic that will always make the brand identifiable, even without using the logo. Furthermore, this dot will be ever present and will reinforce all the visual elements of the brand — framing texts, images, graphics or videos. A simple yet powerful concept. You can also watch a video presentation of the brand.


Last year, the successful Spanish studio Lavernia & Cienfuegos designed the Etnia Shops, including the furniture and the image, for the brand Etnia Cosmetics, resulting in a remarkable project. The main goal was focused on establishing great efficieny, functionality and image, so the main characteristics of the shops are the modularity, the product presentation and the general appeal of the product. I love the combination of the white and the clear wood tones, giving the interior a feeling of warmth along with the carefully considered lighting. And all of these characteristics emphasise the products with their powerful colours. Fantastic work without doubt.


With the ever captivating World Cup in its final week, the Manchester based freelance designer Rick Hincks has developed this minimalist series of World Cup Posters, trying to collect great moments of the competition’s history. The work was based on these three simple rules: it must be a significant moment that happened during the run of play; the layouts are the same; and there are only two colours used — a colour of the club and white. I really like the nostalgic feeling of these posters and clearly remembering many of these moments, making you realise just how important your team’s performance was for you, even more intensely than watching the real images.


Hang Around & Toss Around is a wonderful set of wooden cooking tools and salad servers created by the Copenhagen design studio KiBiSi for the Danish brand Muuto. The kitchen utensils are made in white beech wood and they have an extrusion cut in the back to hang on the edge of pots or pans. A really simple design with a fantastic and useful alteration to make them more practical to use. On the designs, KiBiSi explain: The kitchen utensils combine form, function and craftsmanship, but in KiBiSi’s interpretation, they are precisely designed and crafted for an essential contemporary look and functional ergonomics.