Minimalissimo


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Aidlin Darling Design have been my favorite San Francisco based architects for quite a long time. With a portfolio filled with one stunning project after the next, it is easy to see why. I have chosen to highlight the Sonoma Spa Retreat as it has become somewhat an iconic project to which I often return to for inspiration. The spa pavilion is an intimate private retreat extending of an existing rammed-earth house and is opened to the landscape, framing distant views of San Francisco to the south. The simplicity of the space only accentuates the impeccable precision of detailed design decisions which admirably come across effortless. One is then able to appreciate the spatial quality (immediate and outer) through curated material selection and mentioned framed views. In each project, we seek to uncover an inherent spirit of place and interpret constraints as catalysts for performative design. The individual character of each project emerges through poetic spatial relationships, material richness, and exacting detail. Fantastic design philosophy, don’t you think? I hope you enjoy their work.


Featuring the ‘Roof House’ Proposal by Betillon/Dorval-Bory Architects submitted in the competition in Chiba, Japan. The eight proposed homes are based around the reinvention of something we are all familiar with – the concept of a roof. The project experiments not only with a space itself but also the human body in it, therefore opens new possibilities about how people live. The ‘Roof House’ is a place with architectural, acoustic and visual qualities and allows for various spatial reconfigurations and potential developments. Some other effective strengths include a minimal use of materials, construction costs and the overall use of energies due to the grouped housing. With no protective walls and with only slanted roof, one might ask what happens with the climate on the inside, what is the ventilation like, what are the qualities of light and shadows and what would a daily movement within really be like? In their own words, the architects explain the concept: We choose not to yield to the temptation of suburban individualism, one of the causes of the disappearance of social ties and greater consumer of land. Thus, it is in an elegant form of collective housing that we integrate our eight houses.  In a mix of...


The dynamic Belgium architecture firm Govaert & Vanhoutte was recently featured on Minimalissimo with their amazing Villa Roces and when browsing through their website I couldn’t resist highlighting a couple more of their interior projects. However, I highly suggest visiting their portfolio which is filled with modern, minimal designs. One of the projects you see on the left and below is an office space/showroom Govaert & Vanhoutte did for Mercedes in Roeselare, Belgium. Strong graphics on the walls lead the eye throughout and become the main design point that compliments rather than competes with the purpose of the space. The application of concrete, glass and wood floors keeps  the space modern, yet classic. The other project is another office/retail space, this time for a Belgium fashion label San Martino. Again, the use of concrete plays an important role in the concept with white oversized tables and storage units supporting the easy flow througout. The main color element is left up to the clothing itself, providing I’m sure an ever-changing visual treat.


Brand Spirit is a singular project developed by Andrew Miller, with which he describes: Every day for 100 days, I will paint one branded object white, removing all visual branding, reducing the object to its purest form. I can purchase each object for less than $10, it can be something I own, something another person gives me, or something I find. It is really rather surprising how many brands are so easily recognizable by its products (Coca-Cola) and how they become aspects of our daily lives (American Express), or in the symbol of a generation (Nintendo), or a profession (Moleskine).


Feature number one should always be as few features as needed to perform the primary purpose. This is the philosophy of newly formed development team and consultancy, Minimal Tools, who have recently released their first iOS app, Pop – a simple notepad tool to allow you to conveniently write things down as you would on a blank piece of paper, reducing friction between you and what you are trying to accomplish. Pop rather impressively takes simplicity to the extreme by excluding any extraneous features. Just launch and start typing. From it’s quick loading time to the carefully considered typography, Pop successfully engages with its user, which many notepad apps fail to do. I think it works very well for its intended purpose – to provide you with a single sheet of paper to quickly jot down some words, copy the text and put it somewhere else later. Simple and efficient. If anyone has downloaded Pop, please share your thoughts.


Salone Internazionale del Mobile is the global benchmark for home furnishings and this year’s edition begins tomorrow in Milan. One highly anticipated product to be presented is the new SodaStream Source system by San Francisco designer Yves Béhar as part of an installation at MOST. The elegantly redesigned SodaStream Source is the result of a collaborative project between Béhar and SodaStream. The primary focus was on sustainability, reducing and refining the entire sparkling water and soda making experience, as well as the simplicity in aesthetics. Béhar explains: SodaStream uses technology to reduce the complexity and waste of sparkling water and soda, and this is the quality I focused on. The design of Source was a process of elimination. Starting with the larger volume, we chiselled off the functional areas and sculpted transitions. Visual clarity with a single monolithic shape and a carved-out area into which the new bottle finds a home is the new visual signature. Source requires no electricity, but achieves its great feel through refined mechanical ingenuity. A future without wasteful sparkling and soda bottles can only be welcomed. As for the appearance, who wouldn’t want this sitting in their kitchen? Beautiful.


The incredibly talented American painter and sculptor, Ellsworth Kelly is one of the main protagonists in Colour Field painting. Many of his pieces beautifully combines form, colour and space with a strong reduction of the visual language. Kelly’s current exhibition located at the Museum Wiesbaden in Germany is devoted solely to his work in black and white. His black and white works now account for about one-third of his extensive oeuvre and provide information about the stages of his artistic development since the late 1940s. The artist has closely collaborated with Haus der Kunst to present a selection of 50 paintings and reliefs, supplemented by drawings and photographs. This stunning and minimalist exhibition runs from 2 March to 24 June 2012. How I’d love to pay it a visit.


Introducing Catskill Mountain House in Catskill Mountains, New York by Audrey Matlock. Built based on simple forms and applying fluidity within spaces, the home becomes a retreat where architecture and nature become one. Some of the interesting architectural features are the white framework and a large cast concrete wall that protects the terrace, pool, and outdoor fireplace from a rocky slope. Full height windows allow for maximum light and expanding views of the Catskill Mountains. Interiors consists mostly of a monochromatic palette of black, white, and gray with the addition of blue and green coming in from the outside in a form of skies and nature. It would be difficult to compete with such beautiful views, don’t you think? Other features include heated and polished concrete floors, slate accent walls and ebony stained ash cabinetry.


Colorado based design studio Berger & Föhr practice cohesive visual communication characterized by modernism, minimalism and objectivity. Recently they launched Recher, world’s first gesture based calculator. Math is beautiful. Arithmetic is simple. Rechner is both. Rechner has gestural functions for +, -, = and clear. There is a hidden actions drawer for x, ÷, ±, √,  % and erase. I love the concept but I can imagine that it will take a while before one is used to the gestures. Rechner is now available on the AppStore.


Cavo Tagoo hotel is located in Mykonos Island in Greece and it is owned by an award-winning architect Paris Liakos. Cavo Tagoo  strives to be “a canvas upon which visitors can color their dreams” and it has deservedly gained its 5-star status through minimal and sophisticated design. A sense of craft and luxury is visible in all areas of the hotel while the water is still very much the setting element that embraces the hotel. Other defining materials are pebbles that cover the roofs, wood, stone, and bamboo. The interiors are wrapped in washes of white with bold splashes of colors, gold in the lobby being my favorite. Paris Liakos collaborated with Aggelos Aggelopoulos, Yannis Mourikis and George Gavalas and as a result, the hotel is a “masterful combination of traditional rustic elements with modern minimalist purity.” I am a big fan of hospitality design and admire Cavo Tagoo’s essence of calming environment and curated design decisions.


We are going to Hollywood Hills today, visiting home built in 2008 by XTEN Architecture. As always I particularly love the integration of architecture into the landscape while opening it to the city below. There is a lot to notice but let’s have a closer look at the materiality throughout: steel beams, glass in various renditions (such as fixed clear plate panels, mirror plate walls, light gray mirror glass panels), dry stacked granite (fireplace), charcoal concrete (cantilevered stair), floor to ceiling rift oak panels, dark stucco, cut pebble (flooring). The repetition of building elements deepens the continuity of space but with the right amount of interest, don’t you think? The house opens on every side “to capture the prevailing breezes to passively ventilate and cool the house” and I can easily see myself spending warm Californian afternoon here.


Vincent Van Duysen is a Belgium architect whose work I’ve been drawn to for quite a while. It was almost too difficult to select only one of his projects to be featured here today and therefore here is a selection of my favorite spaces he designed. The use of singular element, frequently in a large scale, typically either defines the interiors or directs viewers’ attention to that particular element. I’m a big fan of the beautiful white space, panelled walls and strong geometrical shapes re-appearing in his designs. Hope you enjoy.