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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.

Matthias Schade was born in 1984 in Berlin, Germany. His latest work is a series of photographs named (un)defined spaces – an investigation of urban space. An investigation of our living environment. Schade explains the concept behind the series: Contrary to the daily natural perception of urban space, my artworks of the (un)defined space series offer a directed and focused view on our surroundings. They invite the beholder to critically and consciously face its environment. It is not about a mere documentation of our environment but rather the chance to question things and to create new experiences. The young artist has been shortlisted for the Celeste Prize 2011 within the photo, digital graphics category back in November 2011. I love these very minimal and undefined photographs.

Birillo by Alessi, is the ultimate no-mess bathroom set. It is made up of 10 minimally designed bathroom accoutrements assembled out of imperfect squares and wrong circles, according to the designer, Piero Lissoni. And while they are clearly designed to camouflage themselves, items like the soap dish can’t help but stand out as particularly pleasing forms. Great minimal design.

Continuing his research into the meaning and use of colour in objects, Sebastian Bergne has made a small studio edition of a contemporary Colour Nativity set. Each of the characters is a minimal wooden block that is recognisable by it’s colour, proportion and place in the composition. Bergne says: The project makes use of our learned experience from exposure to thousands of images, toys and christmas cards over the years. The hand made and painted beech wooden blocks are stored in a box that completes its character as a toy set with a difference.This signed and numbered studio edition of 6 sets are available only through Sebastian Bergne website.

Before writing about the readers suggestions made on my last post about minimalist music, I would like to share that after writing that post, I realized that one of my favorite artists has many minimalist songs. I am talking about Moby, a musician, DJ and photographer based in New York. Throughout his career, he has played several genres with many different influences, but always maintaining a focus on electronic music. I do not think he can be considered a minimalist musician, but he has always had minimalist songs on his albums. Hymn is a perfect example of this, from the 1995 fantastic album Everything is wrong. I just love this song, it is pure passion and feeling for me.

Designed by Benjamin Graindorge, in association with Paris based Design Gallery YMER&MALTA, betweenShadows is a minimalist and very poetic alcove. A piece of art produced in only 8 pieces signed and numbered. I love when art meets design. Graindorge says: An alcove made for day-dreaming, covered in a veritable ceramic bisque skin, betweenShadows places us in an in-between world on the line between the profane and the sacred; where shadow comes from light, where they reveal one another. The space where fire comes to life. Light doesn’t just sparkle; it can also be calm and profound. I like to think that this shadow object lights up our inner life, a space that is too fragile to take too much brightness. Benjamin Graindorge was selected two years in a row for the Design Parade festival and won the Cinna and Audi Talents Awards in the design category.

We have written very little about minimalist music on this blog and I did not even know what the definition of minimalist music was really. So I was looking for some information about it and I think this is a fairly good definition: Music created with limited resources, the same notes and sound sequences repeated over and over again but end up creating a structure. On the other hand, I found that one of the most important figures of minimalist music is Philip Glass. He has not been the pionner of the style but is considered the most influential musican of it. He is a prolific composer who has also written operas, musical theatre works, solo works and film scores, for example. I would like to start by recommending the Piano Solo album, from which the song Metamorphosis Two was featured on, performed by Branka Parlic, because the feeling of the entire album has caught me from the first moment I listened to it. I hope you like it and I will appreciate your comments about it and suggestions for future posts about minimalist music.

Designed by Lee West, Nomu is a cork and ceramic teapot that has no handle but instead has a removable cork sleeve to stop you burning your hands. The pot, and the accompanying ceramic cups are called Nomu, meaning to drink in Japanese and are produced by Eno Studio. The homage to Japanese craft mixed with a compact and minimal design result in a functional object that recreates an everyday tea ceremony.

Naked Shapes is an exhibition of aluminum Japanese household objects from the first half of the 20th century, cleaned of dirt and any sort of make-up such as paint, labels or other excess decoration. The objects were collected over the years by industrial designer Seiji Onishi, gallerist Keiichi Sumi and graphic designer Nobuhiro Yamaguchi. A group of students from Parsons The New School for Design in New York did the cleaning. The items are currently on display at the Domaine de Boisbuchet, a country estate in the Southwest of France. Their website describes it well: In their simplicity, anonymity and material nakedness, they express a quiet yet clear poetry of everyday objects. Personally, I love the effect his cleaning has… So honest! What do you think?

New York based web design studio Type/Code have designed the very minimalist It’s Almost countdown tool website. The concept is very simple. You enter an event name, large or small, regardless of its importance and set the date and time. It then generates a web address for you to return to and see the simple and elegantly styled countdown clock. Even if an event name is exactly the same, the web address will be unique. To establish what time zone it is in, simply hover over the countdown text. I love the look of this website, in particular the typeface and as a bit of fun, it works well.

Software development agency Dark Heartfelt have created Grandview – a fully customisable and incredibly simple notepad, which allows for one-word-at-a-time-text-entry. By pressing a hotkey from any application on Mac, one can quickly enter a full-screen writing experience. The notepad allows the user to view text word by word, sentence by sentence, but also as a full page. Grandview is custimisable in the sense that the user has the option to change the font colour, size and face as well as the background colour. It can also operate in clean slate mode so that every time it is activated it clears the user’s previous entry. There is no doubting the originality of Grandview and as a distraction-free, uninterupted writing environment, it certainly amplifies efficiency. Perhaps not as sleek as other writing software, but it is very inexpensive. Well executed and well worth a try. Watch this video to see how it works.