AaPFAFF is the artistic project of Catalan painter Guillermo Pfaff. His GRADO:0 exhibition in the prestigious La Taché gallery in Barcelona is an exploration in concise, self-contained geometry. His Portable Paintings, canvases that can be folded and stowed away at one’s leisure, are quite a pragmatic and maybe even revolutionary approach to art as a consumer product. I had the opportunity to ask the artist a few questions and was fascinated by his system and methodology, very minimalistic and sustainable in nature, consisting basically of producing art with minimal gestures and materials, as well as only producing work that has a specific finality. Quite the example of precision.
idea ink is a series of Japanese books focusing on the theme of “ideas of the future”, published by Asahi Press and designed by Tokyo-based design studio Groovisions. The books focus on themes from gastronomy; environment and social issues to information graphics and even love and the quest for marriage outside of Japan. The graphic design for each book is clean and crisp, yet colorful and alive at the same time. A refreshing approach considering the excess of graphic information in a city such as Tokyo, yet still coherent with Japanese philosophies of simplicity and elegance in style. Groovisions also have Muji as their clients, another Japanese company notable for its minimalistic products. I particularly love the monoweight lines of the illustrations and the pastel color pallete. One of the things I love in Japanese design is the potency of “silent” designs, and to me this definitely falls into that category.
Kent Wang is a small company founded in Austin, Texas dedicated to making high-quality, classic menswear at reasonable prices. Founded in 2007 out of a frustration with the difficulty of finding even basic linen pocket squares at local retailers, they have since expanded into several product lines offering classic, timeless designs. One of my favorite products from their range is the Sneaker white. An absurdly clean design, beautifully finished in leather, make these sneakers into desireable pieces – even for girls! In the 1960-70s, shoemakers used to make simple, minimal shoes like these. Today, they only make excessively sporty designs plastered with logos. Let’s go back to a simpler time. A simpler time, indeed.
Designed by typically minimalistic, contemporary-modern Brazilian architect Marcio Kogan and his StudioMK27, Casa Osler is composed primarily by two prismatic volumes in reinforced concrete, glass and wood, positioned in such a way as to leave plenty of open space for a swimming pool and garden. The downstairs prism contains the rooms and living areas, and the upper storey houses a kitchen with a privileged view. The house is fit for its location in Brasilia, with its tiled mural designed by Athos Bulcão, who had long years of collaborating with Brazilian modernist architects such as Oscar Nieyemer and Roberto Burle Marx. Photography by Zuleika de Souza & Claudio Dupas.
Stiff is a product design company based in Sweden, focusing on plastic as the core material of their designs. Launching themselves initially as pipemakers, they’ve recently uncovered the Stiff Pipe, the world’s first plastic pipe cast in one piece using polished thermo plastic. Tobacco smoker or not (not, in my case), you can’t help but appreciate this product’s sleek design and beautiful swanky colors. The pipe is equipped with a briar wood tobacco chamber and is a result of the mixture of industrial know how and hand made techniques, a hybrid that is always appealing and refreshing in an industrialized world. The Stiff Pipe Billiard limited edition was launched in Tokyo November 3rd, sold in numbered wooden boxes and coming in three minimalistic color combinations. According to the designers: Pipe smoking is a guilty pleasure, one that isn’t necessarily good for you but brings a certain quality to life. It should be approached with a Dieter Rams-like ‘less, but better’ attitude, making sure that every drag counts.
Chopping boards can be usually fairly straightforward objects, but there are interesting variations in the market using illustrations and patterns on glass and wooden boards. These designs by nionio design put an interesting, geometric spin to the business of cooking and serving. Apart from the chopping boards, Nia designs trivets and trays made of wood from Scandinavian forests and produced by hand in a family company in Sweden. Inspired by Scandinavian design, her philosophy is to keep things as simple as possible and to create a timeless look. I enjoy the clean, monochromatic pieces she’s created – as simple as the idea is, I haven’t seen products like these around before. Beautiful!
In the summer of 2011 the Ratio 3 gallery organized the first solo exhibition in San Francisco of Margaret Kilgallen’s (1967–2001) work in 13 years. Considered by many to be one of the most influential, yet under-recognized, Bay Area artist of her generation. Kilgallen, along with a handful of other artists came to emergence in the late 1990s, as part of an art movement that is now commonly referred to as the Mission School. The artist’s imagery includes her iconic motifs such as leaves, trees, topography, and female figures, all executed in a delicate and adept hand. Her style is beautifully simple and humble, almost folkloric, at times working with basically abstractions of color, lines, and repeating shapes. She was an avid reader and thinker, looking to Appalachian music, signage, typography, letterpress printing, hobo train writing, and religious and decorative arts to inform her work. In addition to her comissioned mural work, she was also a graffiti artist under the tag names “Meta” and “Matokie Slaughter”, the latter used specifically for freight train graffiti. Kilgallen was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 33 and decided to forgo chemotherapy so that she might carry a pregnancy to term. She died in 2001,...
This three bedroom house renovation and extension was designed by London-based architecture firm Coffey Architects. It’s comprised of a series of levels connected by steps, with the living spaces cascading from the upper study area into the kitchen and dining area below. Reflecting the firm’s principles of light and composition and a connection between interior and exterior spaces, the house is full of visual connections with the outside, with glazed balustrades, steps and mirrors offering glimpses of the garden and sky into the lower levels. Since the rear garden is small, the garden fence is reduced in height to borrow the neighboring trees and plants while maintaining a decked area for relaxation in the summer. I’m in love with the way the surrounding greenery penetrates the smooth, polished white interior, lending the building a surprising warmth that’s reflected and complimented by the materials used inside (wooden surfaces contrasting nicely with white walls, steel and glass).
This is Real Art is a London-based advertising, design and branding agency and they strike a chord with the beautifully meaningful design for the Privacy International prospectus. Privacy International is a human rights ‘watchdog’ organisation, an NGO focused on fighting against unlawful privacy intrusions by government and businesses. The prospectus outlines the current work and future targets of the organisation and is packaged within an embossed cover that doubles as an envelope, keeping the ensemble minimalistic in function and design. The perforated cover even keeps the content private until physically opened by the reader. Beautifully simple, mindful and inspiring work.
Madmoiselle Favre is a french illustrator based in London, having grown up in Paris and moved to the UK to pursue illustration after graduation. Her work spans editorial, music, fashion, and basically a wide variety of many other mediums. My approach to illustration is about paring things down as much as possible. I try and get to the essence of my subject by using as few lines and colours as it needs to convey the core of the idea. Her combination of sinuous curves, clean and fluid lines, and bright, pop color palettes enables the creation of playful and alluring artwork that always leaves something to the imagination. Malika Favre has an upcoming exhibition at the Kemistry gallery in London. Check out the beautifully geometric and minimalistic teaser video here.
Designed by the Chilean architecture studio 01Arq, Casa W sits in the windy seaside town of Huentelauquén. The house has 3 rooms, 2 bathrooms, living and dining room and a set of courtyards. The proposal addresses the main demands of creating spaces protected from the winds and staying within the predetermined budget. The house was situated parallel to the seafront, facing west. Common areas are to the south, with privileged views, integrating kitchen, dining and living rooms. Most of the façades are composed by a wrap-around wall built in vertical planks of pine wood, which allows for the articulation of a series of intermediate spaces and visually controls any future neighboring constructions. These inner courtyards reference the need to contain the predominant wind of the area – one expands the common areas and the other provides a safe environment for the family’s leisure. Predominantly built in wood, glass and stone, this transparent house salutes the classic mid-century modernism of Mies Van Der Rohe and Philip Jonhson, while remaining fresh and elegant in the style of contemporary Chilean architecture, transpiring peace and quiet and long sun-bathed hours. I love it. Photography by Aryeh Kornfeld and Mauricio Fuertes.
Based in São Paulo, independent fashion design brand Cotton Project seeks to produce quality pieces for a group of individuals who share the same lifestyle and a different perspective on beach culture. They aim to create clothes that are coherent with a tropical country like Brazil, but that nonetheless carry the cultural baggage inspired by youth subcultures of music, art, photography and fashion, and apply typical urban elements to the brazilian beach culture. We believe in a downsized brand, that connects to a global culture and is responsible for the environment it lives in. The clothes are visibly well-tailored and the brand styling is an exercise in simplicity. I love the apparent softness of the materials and their fit. The brand also pairs up with musicians, artists and designers in several one-off side projects, sell a range of accessories, magazines and other international design products often not available in South America, as well as housing open happy hour parties in their studio. A true lifestyle brand.