New York-based, Finnish designer Lotta Nieminen has recently updated her website with a year’s worth of projects, each of them refined and showcasing a mastery of subtlety, now a trademark of Lotta’s style. One of my favorites is the branding, art direction and website design for Paintbox, a modern manicure studio in New York offering classic manicures and a curated selection of nail art. Making something look simple, effortless and beautiful is one of the trickiest aspects of creative endeavours, and usually the result of relentless study. I had the opportunity to witness Lotta present the making of this project during OFFF Barcelona 2014, and follow her initial struggles that ultimately culminated in a beautifully rounded, successful project – not surprising from a designer of her caliber. Brand strategy by Figure NY and website development by NoFavorite.
Based in Maastricht, the Netherlands, Studio Niels was founded under Niels Maier with a focus on interior design and its effects on the built environments. Varied in size, the studio’s approach depends on its philosophy about clarity, simplicity, and contextualization; this is apparent through the Authentic Mansion 2, completed in 2011. Also located in Maastricht, this apartment was designed to be monochromic with stark white interiors, highlighting the wooden floor and contrasting home furnishes. Behind the television is a hidden shelf that is utilized to both cover the technical system and provide a place for storage, which is a clever spatial move. I especially appreciate the negative space produced from the continuously white interior, appearing under the sink, between the bed, through the key hole, and many more instances. This shows an articulation in details that Studio Niels was able to achieve through envisioning a bigger picture, then narrowing down in scale—an important quality of designers alike. The minimalism in Authentic Mansion 2 is strongly apparent, emitting an elegance and sophistication. What else can a client ask for? A space of minimal design, maximal effect.
The French branch of the Italian company Marchesini, a leader in packaging applications, was built in 2008 by architects Benoit Jallon and Umberto Napolitano of LAN Architecture in Saint Mesmes — a small town about 40 kilometers east of Paris. Aseptic yet elegant, formal yet cozy, flexible yet defined, are only apparent contradictions that define the ispirational principles that guided LAN Architecture to achieve the design of this 1,000 square meter building, which extends over 6,000 square meters of land. Its face is oriented with the wide glass wall in the direction of Paris, the marketplace of the office. The main interest of the site lies in its morphology and in its orientation. The level of the soil follows a slope of 3 feet above sea level, and the west side provides an exceptional view of the surrounding hills. In the planning phase we examined the relation between the building and the landscape, and between users of the building and the landscape. Strong, iconic and hotly black.
Plywood House is a distinct home refurbishment tucked among London’s traditional Victorian row homes. The exterior is comprised of brick and concrete punctured by single framed windows. These materials are splashed throughout the interior as well. Concrete and brick are wonderful raw materials that add visual interest inside and out. However, the most distinguishing feature of this home is its namesake: plywood. Plywood is one of the simplest yet most versatile construction materials. In Plywood House, it is used instead of sheetrock to form the walls and ceilings. The soft wood casts a warm light throughout the minimal interior. Designed by Simon Astridge Architecture Workshop, the living spaces of Plywood House are distributed across two stories. The first floor holds a cast concrete kitchen, dining, and living rooms. The master suite, structured entirely with plywood, fills the second story. I love when modest materials are allowed to take center stage. Plywood House creates a beautiful aesthetic from an often overlooked construction material. Perfect!
Q Designs streamlined solution to charging smart phones has arrived. The Q Bracelet is now available for order. Initially conceived as a solution to the ever growing issue of decreasing battery life as smart phones are becoming more technologically capable. The solution is one that is about bringing technology and beauty together in a way that challenges the status quo and embraces the bold. Based in New York City, this ingenious product is one that allows technology to be supported by a form-meets-function device. Lightweight, this piece is available in brushed and matt black (for the gents) and polished and matte silver and polished gold (for the ladies). The resulting product aims to deliver on an ever growing problem, and was born out of a frustration of the designers of other available products on the market. Said to bring simplicity and creativity, the Q Bracelet aims to aid an over-sighted element of our tech-savvy lives and can recharge up to approximately 60% of battery life. Cords are now dismissed. Photography courtesy of Q Design.
Norway based designer and artist, Daniel Rybakken, has an outstanding portfolio of work that spreads installation, lighting and illumination creations. His latest — Compendium — a lamp family designed for Italian lighting company, Luceplan. Rybakken asked the question: How would you best illuminate a room with only one light source? To begin with, you would need a very strong light source, and secondly you would like to have it to come from the side, in the same manner as a window with natural light coming into the space. Thirdly, since you have this strong light source, you need to avoid glare, so you should try to diffuse and soften the light. These three aspects were the primary focus of the Compendium project. The lamp, made from extruded anodised aluminium, features a very strong LED light source directed towards the wall, and by doing this, a soft light reflects into the open space, creating a beautifully balanced illumination. The compendium family consists of a floor version with a freely rotatable stem and a suspended version, mountable either as an up or downward light. Photography by Kalle Sanner & Daniel Rybakken.
Sally LaPointe’s Spring/Summer 2015 latest show at New York Fashion Week is truly sophisticated and beautiful collection. Within each individual piece, proportions of familiar elements such as boat necklines, bell shaped skirts, capped sleeves and vests have all taken on a new silhouette. Whether it is a play on the proportions of these elements, a refinement in the tailoring, the lines are blurred so gowns feel more relaxed and casual, and separates are styled to be more serious and formal. New York City-based Sally LaPointe brings a freshness to this strong, almost rocker-chic womenswear line. It is an approachable yet elegant minimalist collection that is simply very cool. Images courtesy of Style.com.
We recently caught up with Håndværk to discuss the brand, its designs, fabrics, and future. Describe your path to creating the brand, Håndværk. We felt there was a void in the market for a label that was solely dedicated to high-end essentials — crafting each piece from the finest fabrics, and focused on the details as the foundation to function. From the start, the ultimate goal was to create a label that we would love as customers, something that would make us proud. Our passion for fine fabrics was the main force driving Håndværk’s creation. Håndværk is an interesting & unusual brand name. Can you explain why you choose it? It is a Danish word that stands for artisanal, a trade, or handy-work. We felt it represents the soul of the label. At the core, we want to highlight that pride achieved by the craftsman with his honest work. We want to convey that making quality garments is a humble and tedious endeavour, miles away from the hype of the fashion world. We have always been huge fans of Danish design, specifically mid-century modern furniture — with the focus on simplicity, honest materials and function. These values influence how we go...
Clean lines, shadows and elusive humans come together on Geometrix, from London-based photographer Rupert Vandervell. The black and white photography of film-noir and B Movies are as important as the soundtrack in creating the, now celebrated, mysterious mood these pictures are known for. Paranoia-inducing characters and unexplained appearances are key factors, Vandervell plays off these elements gently, never as an explicit intention. On the other hand, urban landscapes offers calm and intangible contemplation opportunities. The selection of sites chosen to build this series are drawn by shadows and sharp concrete architecture, as well as the heavy contrast to expose each angle with great detail. Geometrix goes beyond the usual abstract architecture exercise, with a minimal hint of performance from the fleeting figures. Restraint in the right measure is hard to come by.
The Mist Cabinet by Rachel Harding is a display cabinet that curates your view. The cabinet uses a minimalist construction to create a series of clear cast acrylic boxes that react to various viewing angles. Thanks to a special coating the opacity of each box flutters between transparent and translucent as you pass by, “creating an intriguing choreography of hidden and seen” as Harding describes. I wanted to re-invent the idea of the traditional display cabinet. Instead of simply falling into the background, this cabinet interacts with the objects inside, and encourages the user to take a second look. The advantages of acrylic glass is its capacity to refract and filter light and being light weight. Acrylic glass however can have a ‘cold’ appearance and will not fit in every interior. Rachel Harding works, in addition to her studio work as an in-house designer for Droog Design, creating in-house collections and design concepts. Harding seeks to surprise with her work drawing inspiration from unexpected materials and contexts.
Less is the story of a wine lover who wanted to make good wine affordable for all. His idea was simple: remove the superfluous and keep the essential. By selling his wine in bulk, our client aimed to reinvent the customer experience, inviting shoppers to fill their bottles directly from wooden casks at his shop. This way is how Landor introduces the magnificent branding project that was created for Less — a minimalist identity that reflects the brand’s goals, whilst communicating only what is necessary, removing the superfluous and going beyond aesthetics. Following this discourse, the identity appears only by removing material, either sandblasted on bottles or cut out on recycled paper, showing four slightly modified stripes to form the word Less. The packaging also becomes bespoke with the label customized by a drop of the wine it contains. I also suggest watching the superb video brand presentation, because for this project, D&AD Awards honored Landor’s work by featuring it in their Branding book of 2014.
Aroeira III is an elegant dwelling located on a sunny, arid hilltop in Portugal. The home is designed by ColectivArquitectura, a small architectural office located in Lisbon, Portugal. The thoughtful design seeks to maximize sun exposure and work with the sloped landscape. The structure is u-shaped and divided among two low-lying levels. This building is refreshingly honest about its structure both inside and out. The reinforced concrete foundation is visible throughout the exterior, while steel support beams puncture the wood and glass facade. These classic materials continue on the interior. Exposed concrete walls and floors are juxtaposed with wood panelling and stairs. The floor to ceiling windows keep everything bright and airy. Aroeira III embraces a design that is as beautiful as it is timeless. This is surely a home that will be admired for years to come. Photography by FG+SG Architectural Photography.