When you look at the shelves of skincare products in a shop, they’re normally so full of information and busy designs that a mere glimpse of Swedish brand Verso Skincare‘s packaging is already refreshing and interest grabbing. Championing the innovative Retinol 8 formula (it helps the skin cells to mimic how young cells behave and is an improvement on the standard retinol formula, 8 times more potent and with none of the famed drawbacks like having to avoid sunlight), Verso is Latin and means reverse, a clever metaphor reflected on the elegant packaging. The brand identity & packaging design were developed for over a year (!) by Swedish studio Today Creative, resulting in a thoughtful brand image that reflects the product’s uniqueness.
Less is yes.
NY-based multidisciplinary creator Joe Doucet strikes again: this deck of regulation playing cards called IOTA is an exercise in editing and stripping things down to the edge of comprehension. The already fairly straightforward and classic signs for hearts, clubs, diamonds and spades have been reduced to minimalistic geometric symbols. My personal favorite is the spades, and the diagonal mark across the back of the cards is so brilliantly simple it could’ve always been there. The deck will be available as a limited edition along with seven other products at Doucet’s Play exhibition in the Wanted Design NYC pop-up store in from May 17th-20th.
There isn’t anything quite like the pleasure of beholding the careful and considered crafting of a beautiful, solid object, and that is exactly the sensation brought by watching this video for the construction process of London-based luxury accessories brand Oliver Ruuger‘s umbrellas. The incredibly sleek and elegant line of umbrellas was comissioned by LN-CC, a progressive retail concept comprising of clothing, music & books. After honing his craft producing exclusively made-to-order pieces, this is the first retail collection from Oliver Ruuger. The collection launches with four distinct umbrellas, in a custom range of materials. The umbrella is such a traditional, everyday object that it has almost been forgotten in design, but this brand reintroduces the familiar item as something luxurious and indulgent, with an according price range.
Designed with a very specific purpose — to separate the owners from a loud, busy street in downtown Miyasaki, southern Japan, into their own private sanctuary — architect Michiya Tsukano of Tsukano Architect Office delivers this monolithic white structure with only a narrow vertical slice to interrupt it. The home was designed around a private courtyard, that provides natural lighting for the interiors and is overlooked by every room. Concrete walls and surfaces are balanced with light-colored timber panels, warm ceramics, white plaster and glass. My favorite part is where the concrete dining table meets the white pebbled courtyard floor at the same level, a flowing continuity barely interrupted by a large glass pane. The design exudes the calm and peacefulness of its statement of purpose and is an interesting contemporary hybrid between traditional Japanese design and Western standards.
Bound by a common commitment for a unique but simple style, Barena has developed a bold and wonderfully rich, yet beautifully pared down Spring/Summer line. The firm dates back to 1961, when it was founded from a passion for researching culture, tradition and the world of textiles of the enchanting Venetian lagoon area in Italy. The collection is in fact inspired by the peculiar dress code created and used by the folk who lived in those areas in ancient times, who traditionally wore clothing that was versatile and functional, for they were hunters, fishermen and farmers. Many of the garments in the collection are the reinterpretation of unique pieces found in museums, antique markets or books that portray old images. I love the essence of history, passion and craft that infuse the very brand and all of their attention to detail, construction, and the will to preserve a rich local textile culture. Photography by Tony Piarotto.
Young Frankk is a jewelry line launched in 2011 by Virginia-based US artist turned jewelry designer, Christine Young, drawing inspiration from simple and minimal designs, yet infused with bold graphic, geometric, and even organic shapes. As a graduate of Parsons School of Design for Illustration, she incorporates her drawing experience into her designs by translating line work onto metal. Every piece is made by hand by the designer, creating one-of-a-kind and unique pieces. I’ve always enjoyed the simplicity, minimalism and geometric quality of Young Frankk’s lookbooks. Every piece has a boldness and completeness to it, like a story being told with each one.
There have been many exercises in paring down the wallet to the ultimate minimalistic design, but I believe London-based Taiwanese designer Chieh Ting Huang has arrived at that ideal quite successfully. Nothing Fancy is a collection of non-stitched minimalist solutions for the wallet, re-imagined for the contemporary lifestyle. Using only a foldable leather hide template and rubber bands and eliminating everything else (stitches, snaps, zippers, etc.), Chieh delivers a wallet, a coin case, an iPhone holder and a passport holder within the same principles. The result is a well thought, beautifully executed and impeccably styled range of products that has left the design blogosphere wishing for one of their own. My personal favorite is the passport holder and I’m especially in love with the customized rubber bands!
AaPFAFF is the artistic project of Catalan painter Guillermo Pfaff. His GRADO:0 exhibition in the prestigious La Taché gallery in Barcelona is an exploration in concise, self-contained geometry. His Portable Paintings, canvases that can be folded and stowed away at one’s leisure, are quite a pragmatic and maybe even revolutionary approach to art as a consumer product. I had the opportunity to ask the artist a few questions and was fascinated by his system and methodology, very minimalistic and sustainable in nature, consisting basically of producing art with minimal gestures and materials, as well as only producing work that has a specific finality. Quite the example of precision.
Singapore-based Foreign Policy Design Group are in charge of this beautifully simple branding and wayfinding design for the Steven Holl-designed Sifang Art Museum in Nanjing, China. What I love about this project is that the graphic design draws its power basically from language. Oriental characters are typically very visual and graphic in nature, and the composition of Chinese and English create an elegant balance that stands strong on its own. The use of black to accentuate the branding material is also very elegant. What a lesson in simplicity.
I’d like to momentarily look back to this 2012 ad campaign for Calvin Klein’s ck Watch + Jewelry brand. Calvin Klein and its segments are famously minimalist brands, and this campaign featuring long-time collaborator Lara Stone and Sean O’Pry doesn’t disappoint. The images with Ms. Stone have been popping around the city of Barcelona this year and I was struck once again by the simplicity and flawless execution of the styling and make-up as well as the products themselves. The color palette of the featured image, for instance, is very striking in its pared down subtlety. As a woman interested in make-up myself, I find the nude, “no make-up make-up” approach very appealing. The campaign was produced under the creative direction of CRK, Calvin Klein, Inc.’s in-house advertising agency, working with French consulting creative director Fabien Baron and French photographer Patrick Demarchelier.
idea ink is a series of Japanese books focusing on the theme of “ideas of the future”, published by Asahi Press and designed by Tokyo-based design studio Groovisions. The books focus on themes from gastronomy; environment and social issues to information graphics and even love and the quest for marriage outside of Japan. The graphic design for each book is clean and crisp, yet colorful and alive at the same time. A refreshing approach considering the excess of graphic information in a city such as Tokyo, yet still coherent with Japanese philosophies of simplicity and elegance in style. Groovisions also have Muji as their clients, another Japanese company notable for its minimalistic products. I particularly love the monoweight lines of the illustrations and the pastel color pallete. One of the things I love in Japanese design is the potency of “silent” designs, and to me this definitely falls into that category.
Kent Wang is a small company founded in Austin, Texas dedicated to making high-quality, classic menswear at reasonable prices. Founded in 2007 out of a frustration with the difficulty of finding even basic linen pocket squares at local retailers, they have since expanded into several product lines offering classic, timeless designs. One of my favorite products from their range is the Sneaker white. An absurdly clean design, beautifully finished in leather, make these sneakers into desireable pieces – even for girls! In the 1960-70s, shoemakers used to make simple, minimal shoes like these. Today, they only make excessively sporty designs plastered with logos. Let’s go back to a simpler time. A simpler time, indeed.