Nested in the historical center of Vacallo, a small village with 3.000 inhabitants in the Italian-bordering side of the Swiss frontier, this building renovation was designed by Swiss-based architecture studio Studio Inches Architettura. Originally an agricultural village, in the 20th century Vacallo became a residential area and the 17th century constructions in the historical center became protected by the government, a condition that imposes a series of restrictions for any architectural intervention. Initially a storage barn for the farmers, it came to house 6 families and then had the ground floor converted into the headquarters of a local political party. The renovation project respects the rigid swiss laws that impede any alterations to the façade openings nor the ceiling structure. The interior, however, was completely gutted in order to maximize the small area of 30 sq. meters, a feat greatly aided by the double-height atrium in the ground floor. I love how the cast concrete slab complements the pure white of the interior walls and floors, brightened beautifully by all the greenery, and how the many openings pour light into this small 6m x 6m space! Photography by Tonatiuh Ambrosetti, Daniela Droz.
Founded in 2010, United Measures, the fine art frame fabrication business of Melbourne-based craftsman and designer Ryan Wards, creates bespoke and detailed frames with an earnest respect for timber. With a background in graphic design, Ryan spent years working in a busy commercial graphic design environment, dedicating himself to framing and screenprinting in his spare time, until finally transitioning to running his own creative business. Every piece from United Measures is lovingly handcrafted by Ryan and his father, Roger Ward, with an incredible attention to detail and never using pre-finished materials. Apart from the meticulous work in the finishing process, what I’m really in love with is the strong yet discreet graphic detailing in the frames, be them colorful lines or impeccably placed dots. All of the color, of course, is hand-tinted. Studio photography by Lucy Feagins.
Emanuele Cecini designed the identity and branding for new creative agency, Orange Hive, based in Frankfurt, Germany. The designs included the creation of a logo, print stationary, website layout and art direction of the branding photography. The logo finds a surprising and elegant balance of lines and empty spaces, the branding is straightforward and uses a limited number of elements and information, and the pop of color provided by the orange accents gives the ensemble a nice twist, preventing it from being boring instead of the classy minimalism it achieved. I’m especially fond of the signage application!
dOCUMENTA (13) — 100-notes-100-thoughts are a series of 100 notebooks designed by Italian design company Leftloft and published by German art house Hatje Cantz, in order to mark the occasion of this year’s edition of the 100-day arts festival that takes place in Germany once every five years and will be running in Kassel from June 9 until 16 September. Comprised of facsimiles of existing notebooks, commissioned essays, collaborations, and conversations of artists, scientists, philosophers, linguists, psychologists economists and political theorists involved in the event, the notebooks appear in three different formats (A6, A5, B5) and range from 16 to 48 pages in length. The idea is to document and share the musings and thought processes of many influential figures, in a true It’s the journey that matters philosophy, as said by the organizers: A note is a trace, a word, a drawing that all of a sudden becomes part of thinking, and is transformed into an idea. Bold colors and understated typography make these books into simple and desirable objects… I’d want one of each!
Timepiece company Uniform Wares commissioned UK-based creative consultancy Six to design a series of promotional mailers, stationary suite, gift vouchers, watch box inserts and supporting gift wrap materials for their wristwatch collections. All of the printed material was designed to reflect the simplicity of the company’s pared-down aesthetic, based around a philosophy firmly rooted in classic British design and contemporary styling. The use of strong, contrasting, albeit neutral colors is used throughout the series, finely complementing the wristwatches’ minimalist designs. I’m especially in love with the subtle use of the identity on the watch box, as well as the bold simplicity of the gift voucher numbers. The vector illustrations of the designs are beautifully expressive as well… Also, I’m having a hard time choosing a favorite watch!
Based on the development of a self-organising, programmatic and rhizomatic design, Atelier Carvalho Bernau created this series of deceptively simple, geometric designs for Amsterdam-based publishing house Octavo. Briefed with the wish for a collection of cheaply published books that are functional, durable and beautiful objects, the designers approached this project with an awe-inspiring and thought-provoking methodology of research of both the physicality of books and of how their data could be used to make readable connections between the individual titles visible. The results are a design system in which each book is unique but relates to the others, so that what sits on the shelf is a visual continuum. Every book has its unique cover through a unique position on the map in relation with other publications, its colour scheme and placement of typography. No parameter is random, all data can be read: it is possible to understand that books with the same colour(s) bear some relation with each other; that the point to which the triangular areas point indicate yet another level of relation between the titles. Having had the opportunity to attend a conference in which they explained the entire process of their design research and systematic, I can say it was...
Remodelled by Brazilian architect Guilherme Torres, this building is originally a 1940’s construction and the former home to Victor Brecheret, famed Italian-Brazilian artist and sculptor. After his death in the 1950’s, for decades it served as a foundation of part of his collection and a deposit, being then acquired and re-designed by Torres as his own home and work space. The premise was to update the building, reflecting Torres’ contemporary language and preserving the basic structure. The floor plan hasn’t suffered many changes, mainly openings and finishing materials. The addition of a retractable glass roof, to be opened on summer days, helps to maintain a mild climate. The latticed wooden structure, descendant of the arabic mashrabiya, is an element often used in contemporary Brazilian architecture to assuage the strong sunlight. It follows the same pattern of the doorway structure, a striking element in the building’s composition. High in the façade, there is a neon piece by artist Pinky Wainer that reads: Land of the free, home of the brave. The combination of latticed structures and simple, geometric architecture is a very particular feature of contemporary Brazilian architecture, one I always enjoy finding. All the natural light filtering into the house gives it a light and airy feel… I’m...
The Nook sidetable is an apparently fairly simple and straightforward concept designed by Germany-based Lukas Franciszkiewicz… Yet it questions and challenges our very basic spatial conventions. We are used to have predetermined beliefs in placing our furniture. My aim was to create an object that demonstrates new ways of dealing with the relation between space and structure. The table correlates with architecture and other pieces of furniture. Aesthetically minimalistic but intrinsically filled with some form of questioning, however simple it may be, is the motto that frequently informs Franciszkiewicz’s designs, who is focused on research and experimental concepts, dealing with the impact of technology on human perception and behavior, often using fiction as a tool to further present his work. In a technology-oriented world increasingly filled with products and objects and stuff, I can definitely appreciate this effort in thoughtfulness.
Japanese brand Muji has always been a clear expression of minimalistic principles, always infusing their designs with tranquillity and pause for thought. On the one year anniversary of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, Muji presents the Product Fitness 80 exhibition at the Design Museum, proposing a reconsideration of the way in which design impacts on the way we use energy and addressing the following questions: What would happen if we used 20% less materials and energy in the actual process of making products? And in terms of the final object, what is then the role of the user in customising, re-using and recycling products in order to reduce energy consumption? Following the Japanese concept of monozukuri, which means the state of mind of crafting with a minimalist focus while designating a commitment to society and to the planet, Muji’s products have always reflected the search for comfort and purpose. Product Fitness 80 is another step in that direction, representing the firm’s will to raise awareness by reviewing their own conduct and setting an important example. Photography by Joe Humphrys.
Simplified Clothing, or SMPLFD, is a north-american collective from Detroit that believes firmly in “less is more” and strives to deliver thoughtful imagery by means of bold, clever and simple designs. Despite that straightforwardness, they aim to be thought-provoking: We feel an enigmatic demeanor is more fashionable than the opposite so our designs merely elude to ideas, rather than state anything definitely. In other words, they are a door to enter, rather than a billboard that talks at you. What I like about SMPLFD is their freshness. The world today is saturated with t-shirt designs that are a dime a dozen, and these just catch the eye in the middle of that busyness. I especially like the quirk of the featured cardigan and the reductionist Marlboro logo tee (which, admittedly, took me a moment to figure out).
Japanese studio Nendo strikes again: the Block vases are a set of delicate, small and stackable bud vases that form part of the collection of new additions to their 1% products, to be presented in Milan’s Salone del Mobile this coming April. The vases are carefully measured and designed to fit in stackable formations, never disturbing the vase on the bottom. There are four sizes and each can accomodate one flower, but once stacked they can also fit a tall stem through the different combined vases. Only 100 of each vase will be made, as befits the concept of the 1% products. According to Nendo: 100 is the perfect amount: they’re neither one-off “works of art” nor mass-produced products made in the millions. Whether its the skill of the artisans or new technologies, we want to make things that are only possible because there are 100 of them. Not more, not less. To give owners the chance to experience the joy of owing 1%.
A music-and-fashion label with french and japanese roots, Maison Kitsuné‘s collections often have a very classic, essentially Parisian feel to them, and this Spring/Summer 2012 collection is no exception. Inspired by North-American classic film The Great Gatsby, the maison adds a Parision twist to the collection, featuring a mixture of timeless silhouettes with soft pastel colors and impeccable materials and tailoring. When patterns appear, they are muted in the seasonal pastel hues and classic shapes. I’m usually a fan of bold, geometric, contrasting statements, but this aesthetic has a very fresh, light, spring-summery feel that works well with the elegance lines and the simplicity of concept.