Minimalissimo


Categorized “Graphic design”

The Italian minimalist designer, architect and teacher Angiolo Giuseppe Fronzoni needs little introduction. Not least because we recently featured his wonderful Quadra Lamp design. Today however, I am introducing you to a book by Ester Manitto on the teachings of Fronzoni. The book, titled A Lesson With AG Fronzoni – From teaching design to designing lifestyle, written both in Italian and English, is an act of gratitude from student to teacher and also an invitation to others to contribute to the reconstruction of a story of human and professional experience of the highest value and of great current relevance. Ester Manitto permits us to enter the world of AG Fronzoni’s workshop school, founded in Milan in 1982. The workshop school trained and directed its students towards the practice of continual research into the essence of form in life, nature, art, architecture and design, and a respect for learning by doing. The art direction and layout of this minimalist book, which has been beautifully illustrated, was designed by Genoa based creative studio Artiva Design. You can order the book for only ¢18. Something I will most definitely be doing.


Nocturnes is a unique box set of six books with silkscreened covers in a slipcase by the new photography group AM projects and published by dienacht Publishing. It is the first AM project and explores six different photographic journeys into the night. This idiomatic object is published with varying papers – depending on the artist – one even has an enormous fold-out poster. All come originally fused together spinally and will be presented as a box set. It is a landmark – in terms of design and printing (as well as in terms of photographic content) – in photo book publishing. The impressive minimalist design of this box set was produced by German graphics design studio, Fluut. I’d really like to get my hands on copies of these books. Beautiful work.


This is Real Art is a London-based advertising, design and branding agency and they strike a chord with the beautifully meaningful design for the Privacy International prospectus. Privacy International is a human rights ‘watchdog’ organisation, an NGO focused on fighting against unlawful privacy intrusions by government and businesses. The prospectus outlines the current work and future targets of the organisation and is packaged within an embossed cover that doubles as an envelope, keeping the ensemble minimalistic in function and design. The perforated cover even keeps the content private until physically opened by the reader. Beautifully simple, mindful and inspiring work.


Korean-born Heesang Lee is a graphic design student at the School of Visual Arts in New York. She has redesigned the packaging of the popular model-building essential, the X-Acto blade, giving it a clearer, easily recognizable presentation of the types of blades available. My focus on this new design is consumers can easily know what they need at a glance. Firstly I redesigned X-Acto logo. The ‘X’ is a stenciled letter that becomes a symbolic mark for X-Acto knife. Then I simplified information of the package, the numbers in the center are the blades number, and the back illustrations show the shape of blades. As we usually identify the blade by the shape more easily than the number of its type, Heesang has prioritized the information that the consumer needs first. Taking into account that there are over 14 types of blades produced by X-Acto, I think she has successfully achieved a more efficient and sophisticated packaging in its minimalist redesign if we recall what the existing packaging is. 


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.


A simple yet elegant infographics project titled oceaniaeuropeamericasafricaasia by advertising creative Gustavo Sousa embodies more than just the intention of spreading awareness on global issues. It challenges our own knowledge of current affairs and assumptions of design and colors. Using the Olympic symbol of the 5 colored circles aptly in time with the 2012 summer games in London, Gustavo chose to depict current social concerns in a short video while categorizing a color in relation to each of the continents. As he mentioned in an interview: The rings represent healthy competition and union, but we know the world isn’t perfect. Maybe understanding the differences is the first step to try to make things more equal. What was most interesting about the project in addition to its minimalist style of presentation was that there was deliberately no graphics key given to which color represented which continent, which I saw as a test of the viewer’s own personal knowledge of the issues pertaining to each continent and was surprised by which ones I guessed right or wrong. Even though there has been some criticism about the accuracy of the statistics, the actual scale of the circles as it changes with each issue does not...


Italian full service advertising agency, Concept Store, based in Pescara, have designed this elegant, minimal and beautifully presented wine packaging for Vecchie Vigne. The design, lead by Marco D’Aroma of Concept Store, has a clear minimal layout for the label’s flagship store, Gentile, which includes a beautiful use of typography, spacing and colour contrast. The preciousness of the product is given by the care and study of individual details, ranging from the choice of paper and clever use of black and white lettering. The wine itself, is a red 2009 reserve, however I am unable to give you an opinion on the taste. If you happen to taste Vecchie Vigne at some point in the future, please share your thoughts. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this packaging as much as I do.


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.


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...


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!