Minimalissimo


Categorized “Graphic design”

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!


Timepiece company Uniform Wares commissioned UK-based creative consultancy Six to design a series of promotional mailers, stationary suite, gift vouchers, watch box inserts and supporting gift wrap materials for their wristwatch collections. All of the printed material was designed to reflect the simplicity of the company’s pared-down aesthetic, based around a philosophy firmly rooted in classic British design and contemporary styling. The use of strong, contrasting, albeit neutral colors is used throughout the series, finely complementing the wristwatches’ minimalist designs. I’m especially in love with the subtle use of the identity on the watch box, as well as the bold simplicity of the gift voucher numbers. The vector illustrations of the designs are beautifully expressive as well… Also, I’m having a hard time choosing a favorite watch!


Based on the development of a  self-organising, programmatic and rhizomatic design, Atelier Carvalho Bernau created this series of deceptively simple, geometric designs for Amsterdam-based publishing house Octavo. Briefed with the wish for a collection of cheaply published books that are functional, durable and beautiful objects, the designers approached this project with an awe-inspiring and thought-provoking methodology of research of both the physicality of books and of  how their data could be used to make readable connections between the individual titles visible. The results are a design system in which each book is unique but relates to the others, so that what sits on the shelf is a visual continuum. Every book has its unique cover through a unique position on the map in relation with other publications, its colour scheme and placement of typography. No parameter is random, all data can be read: it is possible to understand that books with the same colour(s) bear some relation with each other; that the point to which the triangular areas point indicate yet another level of relation between the titles. Having had the opportunity to attend a conference in which they explained the entire process of their design research and systematic, I can say it was...


Simplified Clothing, or SMPLFD, is a north-american collective from Detroit that believes firmly in “less is more” and strives to deliver thoughtful imagery by means of bold, clever and simple designs. Despite that straightforwardness, they aim to be thought-provoking: We feel an enigmatic demeanor is more fashionable than the opposite so our designs merely elude to ideas, rather than state anything definitely. In other words, they are a door to enter, rather than a billboard that talks at you. What I like about SMPLFD is their freshness. The world today is saturated with t-shirt designs that are a dime a dozen, and these just catch the eye in the middle of that busyness. I especially like the quirk of the featured cardigan and the reductionist Marlboro logo tee (which, admittedly, took me a moment to figure out).


Chicago based architect and designer Jermome Daksiewicz of Nomo is the mind behind this unusual series of screen prints of airport runways. One for the airport enthusiast perhaps, but these precise screen prints present interesting industrial patterns with an attractive simplicity to them. The continually growing series in which new suggestions can be made, include such runways as John F. Kennedy International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, and London Heathrow Airport and measure 18″ x 24″ in size. Something a little different, but I like them.


Designed in Brooklyn, NY by Bubble Calendar LLC, this poster-sized calendar (122 x 46 cm) has a bubble to pop for every single day of the year. Set in Helvetica Neue and with a very simple and elegant design,  it’s a very appropriate tool for both design-conscious and modern homes or offices as well as a fun learning tool for kids (who are we kidding, adults would love to pop those bubbles too). Days of the week and all major holidays and weekends are marked in bold for easy reference (there is also a version with weekends marked by black backgrounds) in English, French, Spanish, German and Italian. The calendar is printed on thick paper (80 pound cover stock) and can even be customized with a personal logo. I’m very sure that I’d have a hard time not popping all the bubbles in one go… Photography by Alex Kotlik.


Milan based Italian designer and architect Denis Guidone, a Minimalissimo favourite for his minimalist watches, has recently created My Book for Nava Design. Guidone has taken a minimal, yet unusual approach to the concept of this book. He explains: It is a blank book with a pretext to imagine a story, a book that you could write yourself, day after day; It is a white space to imagine, you can also leave the pages blank and  fill them in with simply your thoughts. I like the idea it is not a notepad or a sketchbook per se (although it could perhaps be used as such), but instead it is a book to encourage storytelling. My Book is available in brightly bound red, white and black.


Published in 2011, this book by journalist Harriet Walker surveys one of the most wide-reaching movements in fashion, taking the reader through the transformations of minimalist along the decades, ever since Paul Poiret and Coco Chanel in the early 20th century, when women’s clothes became pared down and practical after centuries of complex construction. Walker argues that minimalism is not an exclusive club for intellectuals, but an egalitarian popular movement, and writing the book led other conclusions: The process of simplification has underpinned every great progression and movement, not only within womenswear but politically and culturally. Reviewing the work of designers who, over the decades, have adopted minimalist principles in their work, from Coco Chanel to Donna Karan and Jil Sander; and from the avant-garde style of Japanese masters Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto to contemporary interpretations by Gareth Pugh, Roland Mouret, COS and Zara, Less is More tells the story of an enduring aesthetic that has subtly shaped modern fashion.