Amsterdam-based graphic designer and illustrator Tim Boelaars has a series of limited-edition screenprints based on his sets of icons for everyday use, printed as different colored posters of 18” x 24”. Tim has drawn a lot of attention to his unique iconography work, with an established technique of bold, geometric, monospaced line work that illustrates a range of whimsical yet quirky commonplace things (well, except for the weaponry series). While each and every object may not be absolutely minimalistic in their portrayal, the arrangement of the icons in a monochromatic, perfectly ordered and straightforward fashion is very elegantly simple. Photography by Tim Boelaars, featured image from The Noun Project.
Less is yes.
Jennifer Hagler is a North-American, Idaho-based jewelry designer and blogger. She is also the owner of the most thoughtful, elegantly minimalistic and carefully curated Instagram I’ve ever seen to this date. Every frame seems to be a perfectly calculated still life portrait, from foodie shots to random objects, her work in jewelry, geometric patterns and even her impeccably styled family and home. The main enabler of her photographs, I imagine, is her beautifully decorated home, awash in white surfaces and objects and cloths, with calculated pops of color to add interest and contrast, positioned just so. However, even her exterior shots are filled with light colors, smooth surfaces and quiet compositions. Simple images and seemingly effortless. A truly minimalistic Instagram!
London-based designer David Weatherhead strikes again, having paired up with GOODD for Thorsten van Elten in designing the Primary Clock. Made from solid 3cm Douglas fir with a screenprinted face and a German Quartz time mechanism, it comes in two styles, one with a half circle of color (Half) and the other with segmented blocks of color (Segments). Half can be hung three different ways, displaying the color part either on the bottom, the right side, or at an angle. Each clock is unique despite its repeated screenprinted design, due to the variation in wood-grain that stands out even through the color. David’s objects are born from his interest in the everyday and in designing things with a particular gesture and semantic. His inspirations come from everything, from the Bauhaus to a road safety sign. The Primary Clock is a beautiful exercise in simplicity and well-crafted objects (for instance, the clock is hung with a key-hole fixing so it sits nicely and flush against the wall).
And now, for a bit of minimalistic art history fun! The graphic designers from Polish studio re:design have recently published the first of three installments of a series entitled Iconic Painters to Guess. The premise is quite simple: choose a famous painter and decode them into three symbolic elements. Some are quite clear and immediately recognizable, like the ubiquitous Andy Warhol, Mondrian and Jackson Pollock, others less so. My favorite is a tie between Vermeer and Van Gogh (I still can’t believe how long it took me to figure that one out!). In the current blogging sphere where a lot of people are quite tired of badly done minimalistic movie posters and book covers, this little game seems like a breath of fresh air. If it were developed into a card game I’d definitely try to get my little hands on one!
IXXI is a surprisingly simple modular connecting system where one can create their own graphic collage or pixelated photo enlargement, which can be used as wall art or space separators. Born from the discovery that there was no modular system to connect postcards, the creators developed the prototype for a project called The Brabant House, where they connected 20.000 postcards. Responding to fantastic reviews (including a nomination for the Dutch Design Awards), the founders decided to develop the system to a consumer product. The decorative packet consists of the IXXI connectors and printed synthetic paper cards, which are moisture resistant and tear-proof. Featured in this article we can see the brightly colored, geometric Loco! tiles designed by Studio Boot, which are presently my favorite, but aside from the Loco! design, there are also reductionist renditions of famous portraits and artworks, such as the Frida Kahlo portrait and my other favorite, the Girl With A Pearl Earring.
Diary fragments is an on-going illustration experiment by Serbia-born and Croatia-based visual artist Mario Kolaric. Two simple elements combined – lines and color – are the basis for most of these drawings, so beautifully simple and yet each one is potent with personality, brought on by the bold pop of colors and the delicacy of each precise line. Coming from a background in Fine Arts and now dwelling in illustration, Kolaric’s minimalistic and pop sketches become even more intriguing when you see the rest of his body of work, filled with strongly narrative drawings with a deep folkloric and melancholy essence. His other interests are in merging his illustrations with spatial installations. I’d definitely love to see a spatial representation of these Diary fragments series. I’d also love a wall full of his drawings!
Karen O’Leary is a North Carolina, USA-based architect and artist that simplifies the classic map, rendering a clean design as a result of intricate hand-cuts or repetitive black hand-drawn lines. With maps ranging from New York City to Paris and London, O’Leary erases every information judged unnecessary, be it by cutting out land and water into negative space, or by electing only the barest elements to draw. What remains is the dense and intricately woven web of a very real geography, turned delicate by a meticulous work of reductionism. I love the possibilities of dramatically changing one’s perception of a map by electing what kind of information is shown… O’Leary’s minimalist editing of these complex graphics produces very simple yet strikingly beautiful results!
Berlin-based multidisciplinary creative hub HORT was charged with the daunting task of redesigning the identity of the icon of Modernism, the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation. The new identity’s elements consisted of stationery, brochures, posters, tickets, website etc., but also the redesign of the signage of Walter Gropius’ famous Bauhaus building. Given this, the studio wanted to make it clearly distinguishable what is part of the original structure and what new additions had been made. They followed the premise of strict typography and minimalist layout, standardised formats and no color. The chosen corporate typeface was Courier, the most generic and incidental typeface, in consonance with the studio’s belief that a generic design would work best in order to make the distinction between old and new. An important alteration of Courier’s “A” letter was made, saluting Herbert Brayer’s existing logo on the façade of the Bauhaus Dessau building, and the new logotype is always set vertically. We decided to search for a solution that would relate more to the original ideas of Germany’s most influential Modernist school instead of relying on the visual clichés connected to Bauhaus – it seems almost impossible to use circle, square and triangle nowadays without it coming across...
Nested in the historical center of Vacallo, a small village with 3.000 inhabitants in the Italian-bordering side of the Swiss frontier, this building renovation was designed by Swiss-based architecture studio Studio Inches Architettura. Originally an agricultural village, in the 20th century Vacallo became a residential area and the 17th century constructions in the historical center became protected by the government, a condition that imposes a series of restrictions for any architectural intervention. Initially a storage barn for the farmers, it came to house 6 families and then had the ground floor converted into the headquarters of a local political party. The renovation project respects the rigid swiss laws that impede any alterations to the façade openings nor the ceiling structure. The interior, however, was completely gutted in order to maximize the small area of 30 sq. meters, a feat greatly aided by the double-height atrium in the ground floor. I love how the cast concrete slab complements the pure white of the interior walls and floors, brightened beautifully by all the greenery, and how the many openings pour light into this small 6m x 6m space! Photography by Tonatiuh Ambrosetti, Daniela Droz.
Founded in 2010, United Measures, the fine art frame fabrication business of Melbourne-based craftsman and designer Ryan Wards, creates bespoke and detailed frames with an earnest respect for timber. With a background in graphic design, Ryan spent years working in a busy commercial graphic design environment, dedicating himself to framing and screenprinting in his spare time, until finally transitioning to running his own creative business. Every piece from United Measures is lovingly handcrafted by Ryan and his father, Roger Ward, with an incredible attention to detail and never using pre-finished materials. Apart from the meticulous work in the finishing process, what I’m really in love with is the strong yet discreet graphic detailing in the frames, be them colorful lines or impeccably placed dots. All of the color, of course, is hand-tinted. Studio photography by Lucy Feagins.
Emanuele Cecini designed the identity and branding for new creative agency, Orange Hive, based in Frankfurt, Germany. The designs included the creation of a logo, print stationary, website layout and art direction of the branding photography. The logo finds a surprising and elegant balance of lines and empty spaces, the branding is straightforward and uses a limited number of elements and information, and the pop of color provided by the orange accents gives the ensemble a nice twist, preventing it from being boring instead of the classy minimalism it achieved. I’m especially fond of the signage application!
dOCUMENTA (13) — 100-notes-100-thoughts are a series of 100 notebooks designed by Italian design company Leftloft and published by German art house Hatje Cantz, in order to mark the occasion of this year’s edition of the 100-day arts festival that takes place in Germany once every five years and will be running in Kassel from June 9 until 16 September. Comprised of facsimiles of existing notebooks, commissioned essays, collaborations, and conversations of artists, scientists, philosophers, linguists, psychologists economists and political theorists involved in the event, the notebooks appear in three different formats (A6, A5, B5) and range from 16 to 48 pages in length. The idea is to document and share the musings and thought processes of many influential figures, in a true It’s the journey that matters philosophy, as said by the organizers: A note is a trace, a word, a drawing that all of a sudden becomes part of thinking, and is transformed into an idea. Bold colors and understated typography make these books into simple and desirable objects… I’d want one of each!