The recent completion of the Long Museum West Bund by Atelier Deshaus — an architecture firm based in China — is a spectacle of concrete curves that act as structural vaults, holding up the new additions to the existed wharf for coal transportation in Xuhui, Shanghai. This museum blurs the seams of the concrete connections, linking spatial differences to create a sense of vastness that is both minimally designed and experientially effective. The grey walls act as a background that gives rise to the displayed art pieces, while the mesh facades shed lights onto the flowing interior of this building. The blend of structures and the shear walls, the inside and outside, the old and the new, is what give the museum a unique spacelessness and timelessness. The only indication of spatial separation is the contrast of the wooden surface on the second floor with the dominance of concrete. I personally love the whimsical and beautiful personality of the curves; they connect the two level of the museum effortlessly. This flow gives the audience a freedom of roaming through this exhibition space, which was the initial intention of the architects. Photography courtesy of Su Shengliang & Xia Zhi.
Madrid based contemporary art gallery Sabrina Amrani exhibited at the last Artissima art fair in Turin Waqas Khan, a talented Pakistani artist. After studying at the National College of Arts and graduating as a Bachelor of Fine Arts, his work has been exhibited in renowned international galleries. He trained in the traditional practice of miniature painting, inspired by Muslim, Hindu and Sufi traditions, but instead uses his skills to create drawings on a large scale. The process is almost architectural, like building something slowly, brick by brick. The bricks are dots, marks and lines, assembled with precision and delicacy into simple compositions. An idea of instability is told with abstract drawings, small circles spread with precision and freedom in geometric but unpredictable patterns. I like that. Some of these works have been recently acquired by prestigious institutions such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art and the Devi Foudation, New Delhi. Photography courtesy of Sabrina Amrani.
This studio is the stunning headquarters of Norm Architects, a firm based in Copenhagen. Norm Architects are experts at combining traditional Scandinavian design with a modern palette. It is only fitting that the studio they created for themselves would represent this lovely design philosophy. Located in a classic building on a cobblestone street, this studio is the perfect setting for collaboration and creative production. The office features several conference tables, sitting areas, and displays of the firm’s work. Everything in the office follows a monochrome color palette. The grey, white, and black tones are an ideal backdrop for architecture and design work. The simplicity and impeccable details in this studio are hallmarks of Norm’s designs. I couldn’t imagine a better space for this intelligent and creative team to work in.
Filippo Protasoni’s Platone wall light perfectly combines illumination void of distraction. The piece is comprised of a thermoplastic moulded shell which is painted and then attached with aluminium metal wall supports. The slow arcing bend of the mould seems to create a sweeping affect, while indirectly lighting the vertical surface. Protasoni, having studied in both Italy and Norway, and now based on Milan, Italy, has a background in a combination of product and interior design. He has exhibited and won appraise in a number of international design forums, and continues to develop his strong design philosophy. The Platone is a curated piece of form and function intertwining effortlessly. The resulting addition it adds to the space, is secondary, leaving room, space and noise for the life to occur. Photography courtesy of Filippo Protasoni.
Dutchman Cees Braakman was head of the Pastoe design team from 1945 to 1978 and was responsible for the development of the first modern furniture line. It was in 1958 that Braakman designed a chair that was to be entirely fabricated from steel wire — the SM05. One of the first of its kind. The classic, minimalistic design of the SM05 is accompanied by the KM stool series, all of which have been adapted to fit current sensibilities and brought back into production. Its wire design gives the KM & SM05 a spatial effect and the cushion and the shape of the backrest ensure a comfortable sitting experience. The KM stool, with its aesthetic and timeless design, is available in three heights: table (45cm), kitchen (63 cm) and bar (70cm). A quite incredible collection that deserves to be continually celebrated.
Agata Bieleń has recently launched the Gold Line for 2014, a beautiful collection that amplifies the simplicity of geometry further from the last silver collection. Using simply gold for the entirety — the form, the fasteners, the connections, the joints — Agata has continued the Line series with such elegant minimalism and precision. The craftsmanship shines in these simple pieces, standing out in contrast to the textures of the set beautifully designed by Anna Szczesny of Witalis. Photographed by Kamil Zacharski, the collection with selected pieces of 18 carat gold can be purchased from Agata’s website.
World renowned architect Tadao Ando is a clear trailblazer and vanguard. Early on it was clear his approach was on another level, and although he’s honed his style throughout the years, his first housing project still holds relevance. The Row House is a seminal work for contemporary and minimalist architecture. Located on a working class neighborhood in Osaka, the Row House imposed its first challenge off the bat, with a narrow, but not necessarily small space to work with. Ando’s response was a symmetrical composition, with simple forms and concrete as its main building material. Simple geometry is cleverly used to create an ample space for movement and transitions between each rooms, resulting in a self-sufficient living space. The visual revolution that was imposed in this wood-clad district isn’t the only innovation by Ando; the surrounding traditional houses are anything but private, with open windowpanes and gaps, and thin materials that makes for lousy sound isolation. The project in hand proposes a windowless façade and complete openness to the sky in the middle. Privacy is one of the main rewards for its residents, a change in the daily life, a concrete transformation of social patterns.
The minimalist Nadia coat stand by Matsuso T is constructed from wooden poles with equall diameter. The coat stand has a neat look in addition to an expansive impression reminiscent of trees. This impression is even stronger when two or more stands are placed right next to each other, creating a little forest. The stand, aswell as the other pieces of the Nadia series, has been developed by focusing on a particular method, known as ‘kumiki’, which uses interlocking construction techniques. Many of the woodworking techniques used by Japanese carpenters originate from Japanse shopwrights. The maritime industry has been a driving force behind the innovation of wood construction for centuries and with the Nadia series the creators wanted to give an affectionate nod towards the wooden vessels of times gone by.
This set of minimal Basket Containers is one of the lastest projects developed by Nendo. The Japanese design studio has collaborated with Kanaami-Tsuji, a Kyoto-based wire netting firm that preserves the craft’s traditions and develops it for contemporary living. Nendo explains the result: The carefully constructed basket, composed of individually hand-bent wires, is supported by its frame, making a slender table useful for placing small objects, and perfect for a tight space like an entryway, bathroom or space between a sofa and the wall. The all black and white containers are available in three heights, rectangular or oval shape, with basket form or flat shape as available options. A notable detail is that the legs are more slender than the eyes of the netting, allowing the tables to be stacked and combined.
Mass Fradette Residence is a refined modern home in Greenfield Park, Canada. The home was completed in 2012 by Montreal firm Jean Verville Architects. Three interlocking volumes comprise the home’s structure. The volumes contain the garage and entrance, main living area, and upstairs bedrooms. The facade is covered in soft white wood cladding, with strategic openings for windows and outside access. The ground level features an open floor plan with long expanses of floor to ceiling windows. These windows overlook a garden, connecting the home with its surrounding natural environment. The interior is covered in a mix of matte and glossy white surfaces. Overhead lighting keeps things clean and minimal by eliminating the clutter of table and floor lamps. Polished concrete provides a modern, durable surface for the floors. This material continues on the exterior to form the back patios. Three bedrooms and bathrooms are located on the second story, accessed by a dramatic white and concrete staircase. An upstairs terrace provides a private outdoor space for sunbathing or stargazing. I’m obsessed with the unique geometry of Mass Fradette Residence. The blunt angles and crisp white surfaces are undoubtably modern, yet not without an element of playfulness.
Caoimhe Mac Neice’s Warp collection is born on the idea of designing in a different way. The designer emphasizes that that the whole point of the collection was to get out of my comfort zone. And that she did. The resulting collection is one of challenged forms, tailoring and going beyond the conventional. Conceptually, when each of the pieces is not worn, the shapes that they envelope are plain rectangles and squares, and they don’t look like garments at all. This idea is quite fascinating. The emphasis on reduction is reduced as the construction of the elements becomes the point of focus. Warp is a collection of forms that seem to live and interact with the wearer in their own organic way. The palette is minimal, and formally, from a pattern perspective, the pieces are clear of clutter. The resulting forms however, seem to take on a life of their own, as they engage with the wearer. This is an interesting concept; to assume the end user can influence the design intent, purely through engagement with a piece. The emerging designer’s current focus is on building her portfolio, and with a precedent like this, Caoimhe Mac Neice is one to...
London based illustrator and designer, Thomas Danthony recently collaborated with Black Dragon press to create a beautifully minimalist series focused on Brutalism architecture in London. Inspired by their concrete beauty, Danthony has illustrated three of London’s most iconic buildings in all their Brutalist glory for a series of limited edition prints. The release consists of three six-colour A2 hand-pulled screenprints depicting the Royal College of Physicians, the National Theatre, and Trellick Tower, as well as an A4 concertina booklet featuring commentary from architect, critic and “Fuck Yeah Brutalism” curator, Michael Abrahamson. The series is available for purchase together or individually. Danthony successfully captures the essence of each of these Brutalist builds, beautifully highlighting their use of concrete.