Minimalissimo


Maarten P. Kappert

Amor vacui.

Minimalissimo talks to well-known and not-so-well-known minimalist designers, architects and artists about their ideas and motivations. As a result, we should be able to compare views – and you can form your own. Today: photographer Hans Hiltermann.


In 1971, graphic design firm Chermayeff & Geismar made these beautiful posters for Pan Am World Airways. It’s interesting to see how the designers have been able to create the desired effect with just one image. The MoMA site says it beautifully: … Cultural fantasies and ideals are projected through monumental imagery, presenting people and environments as distant objects of beauty. All images courtesy of Milton Glaser Design Study Center and Archives.


India-born designer Saikat Biswas really flexed his design muscle to create the Obligatory Designer Clock. It doesn’t have any hour and minute hands; instead, the hour markings dynamically change to show the time. From 03:00 – 03:59, the 3rd marking slowly fills up by the minute. At 04:00, the 4th marking appears and fills up. To see it in action, check out the time-lapse video on the left. Too bad it’s only a concept…


Cody Tumblin, a design student from Chicago, Illinois, USA, made a series of monochrome calendars. The calendars come in three different colors: red(s), blue(s), and black(s). Each color-way has a delicate shift between the values of each color so that the calendar slightly vibrates visually. Tumblin describes them as: An exploration of subtle monochromatic palettes that really explode in color. Each number on the calendar is hand-drawn so each calendar is unique. Wow!


This series of plywood chairs are created by design and art studio ROLU, rosenlof/lucas, ro/lu (how maximalist is that name?! ;-) from Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. These chairs must be amongst the most minimalist chairs I’ve ever seen. Obviously the designers have successfully limited themselves to the use of geometric, basic shapes, but what’s most interesting is the choice of material – and how this really shows the power of material. In this specific case, the use of simple, bare plywood is giving us the experience of naked form – zero decoration. You don’t look at them as comfortable, or practical; you just see pure shape. And that’s a pretty rare experience if you ask me (Thx, Jon!)


Why? is a book series edited by Simon Van Booy. He shares insights of Shakespeare, Blake, Sartre, and other luminaries on three perennial questions: Why We Need Love, Why Our Decisions Don’t Matter and Why We Fight. Each book has a cover design created around a question mark, symbolic for philosophy, combined with a visualisation of the concept. So basically, the cover tells the story of the book – and that’s what book covers are for, right? Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find out who designed them, so if anyone knows, let me know (thx, Sonia!)


It has taken him a year of his life, but his Edits by Edit project is finally complete. NYC-based creative technologist, designer and art director Nitzan asked 12 designers from around the world to represent a musical genre using just one shape and one type. This resulted in an eclectic A1 poster series full of brilliant ideas, all of which are now for sale.


Calendar season is now officially open! Felix Ng of Singapore design studio SILNT is kicking it off with his minimalist Calendar 2011. Originally made for the designer’s personal use, the calendar’s unorthodox horizontal format is ideal for marking project schedules and counting down to the deadlines. The calendar measures 820 x 297mm and typeset in Akzidenz Grotesk. It is printed on 150 gsm Curious Particles Snow Paper in an edition of 250. Buy it at SILNTs web site.


The London Design Museum invited cultural commentator and philosopher Alain de Botton to interview John Pawson about his current project Plain Space, previous projects and his minimalist approach to design. And yay, the good people of the Design Museum shared a video of the interview. Two beautiful minds interacting, it doesn’t get any better than this! → Watch the video on Vimeo.


How’s this for a minimalist billfold? The Fold, by New York shoemakers Leffot, is nothing more than a piece of leather folding around your bills. The beautiful quality Horween shell cordovan comes in the colours rust, dark brown, and natural.


Minimizing bicycles is one of my favourite thought experiments, so imagine my delight when I just ran into this prototype for a foldable city bike: Full Circle. It was Korean designers Sang-hyun Jeong and Jun-tae Park’s submission for the Seoul Cycle Design Competition 2010. The design is truly minimalist: symmetrical, built from two circles, two vertical lines and one horizontal. The simplistic exterior contains all necessary technical stuff to make it a functional bicycle, and on top of that highly foldable. The design shows so many interesting solutions and ideas; look at the pedals for instance. Quite the engineering feat! (Also very beautiful are submissions Bike 2.0 and Neo Essence.  Yummie yummie ;-)


Mantis Lamp is a prototype LED designed by Moritz Böttcher and Sören Henssler. The compact nature of the LED Strips allows for the construction to be consisted of no more than a few wooden pieces and an aluminum tube. The light can adjust in height, and rotate continuously. The lamp comes in two different color variations: black stained ash and maple white pigmented. The maple white definitely attracts my attention. Its airy, clean, and elegant composure is just something I would love to have sitting on my desk next to me. I also like the fact that, instead of trying to hide the wire with a white or neutral color, the designer chose to emphasize its presence by giving it a bright contrast.