Minimalissimo


Categorized “Architecture & Interior design”

The design agency Nendo has created yet another retail space for the Japanese label, Beige. In addition to clothing, this concept store located in  Tamagawa Takashimaya was also intended to sell interior goods, hold books for lending, and even turned into a gallery space for events and art exhibitions. Maintaining the brand’s minimalist direction, Nendo cleverly optimizes the already tiny space, zoning it vertically: library on top, clothing in the center and display gallery at the base. A 7.5mm beam installed at 2.05 meters above the floor serves as an attic-like shelf for the library of books, with magnetic bookends that keep them in place. Clothes and bags placed on hangers freely located around the store while low plinths serve as fixtures for display or for customers to step on and reach the clothes and books at the height of the beam. What a simple yet clever detail that takes the customer’s journey over the multiple levels. Its intentionally clean and pure finishes let the products and the activities stand out in the space. The space, though designed for the specific retail needs of the brand, manages to achieve a unique and flexible customer experience in a very simple concept. Photography courtesy of Takumi Ota.


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 lovely family home in Carrara, Italy is the result of a full renovation by Victor Vasilev Architect. The original home was designed in traditional farmhouse style, but the residents’ wanted a more contemporary home. Vasilev’s distinct Soldati home satisfies all cravings for modernity. The floor plan is simple: living spaces on the ground floor and bedrooms above. A large porch provides an outdoor sanctuary in the back of the home. The exterior was kept traditional: a nod to the home’s original styling. The beauty of Soldati is in the composition of the interior materials. Square volumes are structured to create walls, floors, stairs, and furniture. Comprised of travertine, teak, black granite, and white sheetrock, the volumes are nestled together in unique arrangements. My favorite design moment is the staircase: the floating travertine treads against the white walls exude elegance and charm. Furnishings are scattered among the interior like sculptures in a gallery. Furniture rarely matches architecture as seamlessly as in Soldati. The choice of materials, attention to detail, and combination of old and new make Soldati a portrait of modern residential design.


The recent completion of the Long Museum West Bund by Atelier Deshaus — an architecture firm based in China — is a spectacle of concrete curves that act as structural vaults, holding up the new additions to the existed wharf for coal transportation in Xuhui, Shanghai. This museum blurs the seams of the concrete connections, linking spatial differences to create a sense of vastness that is both minimally designed and experientially effective. The grey walls act as a background that gives rise to the displayed art pieces, while the mesh facades shed lights onto the flowing interior of this building. The blend of structures and the shear walls, the inside and outside, the old and the new, is what give the museum a unique spacelessness and timelessness. The only indication of spatial separation is the contrast of the wooden surface on the second floor with the dominance of concrete. I personally love the whimsical and beautiful personality of the curves; they connect the two level of the museum effortlessly. This flow gives the audience a freedom of roaming through this exhibition space, which was the initial intention of the architects. Photography courtesy of Su Shengliang & Xia Zhi.


This studio is the stunning headquarters of Norm Architects, a firm based in Copenhagen. Norm Architects are experts at combining traditional Scandinavian design with a modern palette. It is only fitting that the studio they created for themselves would represent this lovely design philosophy. Located in a classic building on a cobblestone street, this studio is the perfect setting for collaboration and creative production. The office features several conference tables, sitting areas, and displays of the firm’s work. Everything in the office follows a monochrome color palette. The grey, white, and black tones are an ideal backdrop for architecture and design work. The simplicity and impeccable details in this studio are hallmarks of Norm’s designs. I couldn’t imagine a better space for this intelligent and creative team to work in.


World renowned architect Tadao Ando is a clear trailblazer and vanguard. Early on it was clear his approach was on another level, and although he’s honed his style throughout the years, his first housing project still holds relevance. The Row House is a seminal work for contemporary and minimalist architecture. Located on a working class neighborhood in Osaka, the Row House imposed its first challenge off the bat, with a narrow, but not necessarily small space to work with. Ando’s response was a symmetrical composition, with simple forms and concrete as its main building material. Simple geometry is cleverly used to create an ample space for movement and transitions between each rooms, resulting in a self-sufficient living space. The visual revolution that was imposed in this wood-clad district isn’t the only innovation by Ando; the surrounding traditional houses are anything but private, with open windowpanes and gaps, and thin materials that makes for lousy sound isolation. The project in hand proposes a windowless façade and complete openness to the sky in the middle. Privacy is one of the main rewards for its residents, a change in the daily life, a concrete transformation of social patterns.


Mass Fradette Residence is a refined modern home in Greenfield Park, Canada. The home was completed in 2012 by Montreal firm Jean Verville Architects. Three interlocking volumes comprise the home’s structure. The volumes contain the garage and entrance, main living area, and upstairs bedrooms. The facade is covered in soft white wood cladding, with strategic openings for windows and outside access. The ground level features an open floor plan with long expanses of floor to ceiling windows. These windows overlook a garden, connecting the home with its surrounding natural environment. The interior is covered in a mix of matte and glossy white surfaces. Overhead lighting keeps things clean and minimal by eliminating the clutter of table and floor lamps. Polished concrete provides a modern, durable surface for the floors. This material continues on the exterior to form the back patios. Three bedrooms and bathrooms are located on the second story, accessed by a dramatic white and concrete staircase. An upstairs terrace provides a private outdoor space for sunbathing or stargazing. I’m obsessed with the unique geometry of Mass Fradette Residence. The blunt angles and crisp white surfaces are undoubtably modern, yet not without an element of playfulness.


Located in Hanekita, Japan, the new double-family residence by Katsutoshi Sasaki + Associates is designed to have a playful attitude toward the distribution of lights and shadows, public and private, as well as interior and exterior. Katsutoshi Sasaki found his namesake architecture firm in 2008. With many notable projects published in numerous renowned publications and websites, surely, House in Hanekita will not be excluded. To accommodate programmatic necessities, the architect divided the second floor of the main loft to thirteen rooms superimposed by a 3×3 grid with spandrel walls, creating a flexible interconnected series of spaces that deal with private and public boundaries. Complemented with two indoor gardens (yes, on the second floor!), the main loft is separated from the other with a light well. On the  ground floor, which holds two kitchens and dining rooms, the two lofts share the same entrance and private gardens. The interior of this residence is covered with pale-colored woods, creating a lighter and spacious environment that further emphasizes the occasional pouring sunlight. Minimally, the clean cuts of every corner give off a sense of care from the designer. I especially love the simple additions of greens, harmonizing the interior wooden material with its...


Felipe Hess is a young architect based in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He create his own studio in 2012 with projects ranging from residential to commercial to interior design. He has been involved in many incredible projects, located in the city of Sao Paulo, all adopting minimalist design. One such project is Sergipe, a spacious and bright apartment located in a 1960 modernist building. The project involved the demolition of almost all the walls to unify the space. The private areas of the apartment, consisting of a double bedroom with bathroom, are separated by a large white wall. A rigorous and elegant apartment, simple and contemporary lines give way to the illusion in the main entrance set inside a cube building, completely covered with yellow tiles from floor to ceiling. To create a seamless tile surface, Hess decided not to include handle in the design. Instead, the door opens by entering a PIN on a keypad hidden behind one of the tiles. The cube entrance is covered with shelves from the outside, and it creates the illusion, once inside, exiting from a magic door through the library. Fantastic.


Daycare Sundries is a modern kindergarten located southwest of the town Babenhausen in Germany. Designing a school is always a challenge: the structure needs to hold a large percentage of children to adults while keeping everyone occupied and safe. As a result, stark utilitarian structures tend to dominate in the industry. Designed by Ecker Architekten, Daycare Sundries is the exception. On first approach the building gives the impression of a work of art rather than a kindergarten. With a closer look, however, smartly crafted details start to emerge. The structure is segmented into two wings, one for the older students and one for the younger. Four double-height classrooms house the older children on the north end of the site. Built in lockers and cubbies provide no-fuss storage in both halves of the school. The dining hall and gymnasium, used by students of all ages, are the centerpieces of the structure. Tall windows are prevalent on a majority of the exterior walls. The windows warm the school with natural light and views of the peaceful landscape. Pale brick covers other parts of the facade; the material is a nod to the medieval architecture in neighboring towns. Lawns and paved areas around the building provide space for...


Urban Interventions gradually became the darling of art enthusiasts, especially when created by talented visual artists injecting a good deal of personality and politics into mundane spaces. The premise of altering the mood, or one might say, the dynamics of certain neighborhoods isn’t an easy feat to achieve. Urban interventions may come in various shapes and sizes though. In a bold move, XML Architects introduced at the center of Amsterdam’s Red Light District, the Hangover Information Center, a clear intrusion of alien visual concept, breaking away from burlesque and darker motifs. Bright white lights guide individuals to a pharmacy-like ambient offering a vitamin-infused drink, handed by employees behind a 9 meter long counter made with sheets of polycarbonate. The experience resembles a quick trip to your local pharmacy, if said pharmacy was reduced to great geometric design and two particular products. Stylish bottles of water and vitamin drinks make up an impressive blue wall as the central visual attraction. The main product is called RESET, promising a speedy recovery from a night of heavy drinking, thanks to its main ingredient, glutathione. This is a great example of a tasteful and functional urban intervention, all made with beautiful architecture and interior...


House in Possanco is a contemporary home featuring a captivating array of architectural gestures. Designed by the prominent Portuguese firm ARX, this weekend home is located in the arid landscape of Possanco, Portugal. The structure is defined by a pure white facade with strategic carvings, which create windows and skylights. The pristine sheets of white are expertly constructed, allowing the entire building to exude the air of designed precision. Four patios cut through the bold form and are situated throughout the home. A triangular cantilever juts from the side of the building. It is an exciting piece, and it plays with the viewer’s sense of scale and structure. The interior is void of decoration. Instead, long and uniquely formed shadows are splashed along the walls like artwork. The highly geometric roof adds visual interest to any of the home’s interior rooms. The many windows and openings ensure plenty of natural light and views of the exterior landscape. The abstract nature of House in Possanco pushes the viewer to explore further. This is not a structure that can be admired casually: it requires one’s keen attention and an appreciation for the modern and spectacular. Photography by Fernando Guerra FG+SG.