Minimalissimo


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Dots is a really lovely gaming app developed by New York based organization, Betaworks, and its task is very simple; connect as many same-colored dots as you can using only vertical and horizontal lines. Dots has three different game modes; connect as many dots as you can in 60 seconds, another one using only 30 movements and a new endless mode, without any limitation. Its interface is incredibly clean and simple and you can compete with your friends by connecting via Twitter and Facebook. Dots has already been awarded the number one mobile game in twenty countries.


Auckland-based design firm Resident has nailed their latest pendant offering. The Hex, Cross and Tri Pendants are all equally minimal and slight. The elements consist of tubular stems of finely crafted metal, housing various strips of light sourcing. Each piece has been created with folded metal elements that seem to grasp ever slightly their corresponding light tubes and are suspended from ceiling fixtures with thin metal cabling. These pieces are reminiscent of the halo style that is trending heavily architecturally at present. The attention to detail given by Resident is to be commended and a lesson learned. Beautiful pieces executed with a disciplined appreciation for materiality. Photography courtesy of Toaki Okano.


Jay Atherton Architect’s Meadowbrook Residence was initially inspired by fluctuating seasons of light. Situated in Phoenix, Arizona abounded by an undemanding audience, the architectural formwork is an overt abstraction; yet consciously unspoiled and quiet. Despite the employment of natural materials and local stone, the building itself sits framed by its surroundings, as well as resting respectfully amongst it. The Meadowbrook Residence, completed in 2008, stands much akin to a light box in a landscaped setting. It is organized around three main sculptural rooms, and each receives light differently through the day and year. At night, it is a seamless lantern where the contrasting finishes and textures stand to highlight and emphasize one another. The junctions between the series of uninterrupted planes throughout are finished beautifully and celebrate minimalist principles. Jay Atherton Architects are to be commended for this work and for their dedication to the firmness of discipline. Photography courtesy of Bill Timmerman.


Math done simply. Designed in the Swiss style, Sumhold is a calculator that instantly calculates and stores numbers with a fiercely reductive interface and simple swipe gesture. This is the result of a beautifully developed iPhone app by Chad Voss, an independent interaction designer from Seattle. Sumhold, featuring an attractive minimalist design, makes complex calculations and number storage simple. Sumhold is made for those everyday calculations (e.g. groceries and budgets) when you need to do simple arithmetic while keeping track of previous calculations and results. Unlike most basic calculators, Sumhold keeps a running tally of your current calculation at the top and, when calculations become complex, automatically inserts parentheses to keep everything clearly readable. There is no need for an “=” button because it calculates as you type. When a calculation is complete and you need to store the result for later, you simply drag it down toward the keypad into Sumhold’s scratch-line to make a temporary button. Having downloaded this app myself, I must say that it is a joy to use. Incredibly simple both in aesthetic and function. Currently available on the iTunes store.


There is roughly a bajillion alarm apps out there, some of them analyze your sleep, draw fancy diagrams, show twitter streams, news and weather… What I like about this app is the freedom from clutter, both in the UI and functionality. Wake iPhone app, created by Tiny Hearts, does one thing and does it well – it wakes you up. There are three waking modes: slap & flip, which allows you to slap the phone to snooze and flip it over to turn the alarm off; shake, the mode useful to heavy sleepers for it makes you shake the phone repeatedly before turning off the alarm; and swipe, a basic mode that turns the alarm off when you swipe the screen of your phone. The design of the app is minimal and intuitive. I love the dial, which reminds me of the classic iPod controls. Among other features – the ability to save eight repeatable alarms and dedicate them to specific days of the week and the choice of twelve alarm sounds, progressively getting louder as they play. Watch the demo video to see the Wake app in action.


In this 3-storey residence in Osaka, Japan by architect Ido Kenji,  the challenges of maximizing living space and optimizing natural light on such a narrow site surrounded by mixed-use buildings drive the design of this family home. It was the intention of the architect to manipulate the volume of the interiors to enable light through the skylight to penetrate down to the lower floors.  To do so, the walls of the first floor had to bear most of the structural load while the walls of the second floor rotated 14 degrees on the plan which would not only let in the light, but also create a unique and evocative living space. As described by the architect: This inclined wall frees people’s feeling by deviation from the norm, simultaneously the sense of touch of the degree of inclination and the light to reflect of that inclination cause a new physical sense. What resulted is an experience of a home that feels ethereal. Light peeks from the crevices into the volumes of the interiors which are complimented by the understated minimalist architecture and finishes. I love the fact that this house is both a retreat from the other small houses, businesses and factories...


Letterpress – a simple word game for iPhone and iPad by Loren Brichter of Atebits. OK. We probably all know about this one by now, but this game came up in conversation with a friend this morning over coffee in regards to its innovate UI design and I’d like to reiterate here how delightful I’ve found this game since it was released late last year. As John Gruber summarised over at Daring Fireball: [Letterpress is] a cross between a word game like Scrabble or Boggle and a real estate strategy game like Risk or Go. It’s addictive. If you haven’t already given this one a go – I’d highly recommend it. For those of you who have, I encourage you to share your experiences.


The T3 Player app for iPhone has recently taken the internet by storm. And its interface alone makes you see why. Inspired by Dieter Rams’ iconic T3 radio from the 60s, the app is made to appeal to design lovers. Creator of the T3 app Eder Rengifo did not envision it as a substitute for your built-in iPhone player, but rather as a handsome and streamlined addition to it. The app allows you to add your favorite songs, organize them by ranking or alphabetically and enjoy. I like the simplicity of the controls and the fact that this application does not kill you with the excessive number of features. Just a few essentials, beautifully put together. T3 has special support for the iPhone 5 and Airplay. Watch the video to see it in action.


By now, there are plenty of minimalist weather apps for the iPhone, including WTHR, Blue and Solar just to name a few. But here’s another one by Jake Marsh called Conditions. Dead simple, the app shows the current weather and a five day forecast (although this can be hidden so that only the current weather is shown). The app features slightly different designs for day and night; overall the clean design is very pleasant and features Adam Whitcroft’s Climacons. Writing about the app, the developer writes: Many weather apps clutter their interface and overload their users with tons of details that aren’t all that useful. Conditions only shows you the most important information about what it’s like outside right now, wherever you are, anywhere in the world.


Brooklyn based Oak Studios create websites and applications. Last week, Oak released their first iOS app, Blue. The app provides 36-hour weather forecasts relevant to your location in a fast, fun and of course minimal interface. Simply swipe up to see each hour represented in a beautiful, colourful gradient visual – regardless of where you are in the world. The hourly colours are generated based on three variables: temperature, humidity, and sunrise/sunset times for your current location. Temperatures are shown in either Fahrenheit or Celsius. I have seen a few impressive weather apps with a minimalist interface, such as Solar, which is not dissimilar to Blue. Which of them offers a better user experience? I’m going to download them and find out for myself.


Rise is a beautiful minimalist alarm app for iPhone and iPad. Aside from its sleek design, it features a lot of useful functions and perks, including snooze with a shake or the ability create a playlist from iTunes to help you fall asleep. The most notable feature of the app, however, is the fluid gesture-friendly interface. It allows you to set and adjust the alarm time simply by tapping and sliding to the correct number. In fact, most of the actions can be performed by a sliding or pulling gesture, which makes Rise highly intuitive and fun to use. I love how the color of the screen changes from day to night and vise versa as you move your finger… Check out the video to see this and other features of the app in action.


Today we are featuring a house in Tavira, Portugal by Vitor Vilhena and photographed by Joao Morgado. The house is built around the original old building’s footprint and consists of two parts. Both parts are created through different architectural forms, one with sculpted geometry, the other with systematic, regular geometry but they communicate with a glass hallway. We get only a peek into the interior space but from what we see I like the option of enclosure with sliding doors (shown below). And as always, I enjoy when architecture nestles into the landscape and natural terrain. Not to mention the bonus of surrounding of 400 olive trees!