Minimalistic trends in beauty and fashion tend to come and go, but this season’s experts declare a much more stronger focus on preparing and polishing the skin and paring down several make-up elements. Natural-looking, or “nude” make-up (as opposed to non-existant) often consists of a neutral color palette of taupes and browns and a flawless skin-base. For recent Spring/Summer 2012 fashion shows at Proenza Schouler, Missoni and Peter Pilotto, the make-up artists even dismissed the use of mascara for women’s eyelashes, leaving the eyes bare. As the owner of straight, light-colored eyelashes myself, it’s interesting to observe this value for increasingly “naked” aesthetics in make-up and beauty. I believe that the great numbers of men who prefer women with “little to no make-up” might appreciate this trend! Photography from Vogue UK.
NYC-based architecture firm Tacklebox is behind the design and concept for skincare brand Aesop‘s store in Elizabeth Street. Succintly filled with oak shelves stocked with products aligned with spartan precision, the main feature of this space, however – and nearly unseen due to its very subtle texture - is the the concept of newsprint walls (stacked strips of newspapers held within a continuous oak wrapper), covering nearly every surface of the shop. Like paper, they will age over time, as the architects affirm: Just as oak is commonly used to store and age wine and spirits, so too will the newspaper age, turning a light tan, thus marking the passing of time. In this way, the history of Aesop North America will be recorded within the very walls of this first store. Photography by Gianluca Fellini and Tacklebox.
Designed in Brooklyn, NY by Bubble Calendar LLC, this poster-sized calendar (122 x 46 cm) has a bubble to pop for every single day of the year. Set in Helvetica Neue and with a very simple and elegant design, it’s a very appropriate tool for both design-conscious and modern homes or offices as well as a fun learning tool for kids (who are we kidding, adults would love to pop those bubbles too). Days of the week and all major holidays and weekends are marked in bold for easy reference (there is also a version with weekends marked by black backgrounds) in English, French, Spanish, German and Italian. The calendar is printed on thick paper (80 pound cover stock) and can even be customized with a personal logo. I’m very sure that I’d have a hard time not popping all the bubbles in one go… Photography by Alex Kotlik.
This concept store and atelier for fashion designer Hila Gaon was designed by Karina Tollman and Philipp Thomanek of Israeli studio k1p3 in Tel Aviv. The gallery-like space features 9 dresses from the current collection, hung in prominent display upon store mannequins (which were custom-made by the architects, based on traditional seamstress dolls). The complete collection, for its part, is stored in a translucent and lit closet along the length of one wall, and the main space is completed by a large dressing room and fitting area that are provided for the bride and her entourage. I appreciate this design for its lack of fuss concerning the dresses. Dress-shopping can often become a stressful activity and it’s a good thing to have a clear and minimalist space to cancel out distractions and to aid in this choice! Photography by Ardon Barhama.
When two talented people meet, an edgy fashion designer and an unconventional photographer, an astonishing project, intriguing in many levels, originates. The Serpens collection lookbook is the product of the collaboration between the Chinese fashion designer Qui Hao and the Shanghai based, French photographer Matthieu Belin. Named after the constellation of the northern hemisphere – the reptile, the mythological symbol that represents both good and evil – Serpens is as mysterious, futuristic and compelling as its name implies. An extravagant collection in which the size is the absolute dominant. Oversized clothes touched by the magic wand of minimalism. The use of black and white (evil / good) and the absence of colours add an extra dramatic dimension while emphasizing the simple, geometric lines that hide behind the original idea. An unfinished game between textures and sizes. The photography concept is working on the same wavelength. Models like mannequins form geometric shapes with their bodies within the photo frame. Again, the absence of make up and the elimination of shadows produce a neutral canvas, where the clothes seem the only thing alive. Bodies like robots, clothing like structures, a rather architectural approach in a fashion photo shoot.
Created by Spanish designers CrousCalogero for Estiluz, the Balloon Lamp is a very simple, clean and playful lighting fixture, pleasing children and adults alike. Emitting a soft and warm light, the lamp’s shade is made of satinized polyethylene, a translucent material that hides an energy saving fluorescent bulb. A thin red cable hangs subtly from the shade, serving as a switch in the wall version (a ceiling option is also available). It’s the perfect fixture for a young one’s room, but also for a couple’s alcove or a modern living room. Seeing it in person immediately made me smile (and desire one for myself)!
Minimal and warm; clean, crisp and a place to call home at the same time. Everything is possible when Norm Architecture is involved. The Humlebaek House was a former land workers house, located in Denmark and converted by Danish architecture firm Norm, into a unique home-studio. Originally constructed with brick walls, concrete floor and steel beams, it had almost anything an inspiring conversion needs, except one: adequate daylight. And that was the biggest issue. Unable to interfere in the exterior walls, as the building is protected by local architectural restrictions, the architects had but one choice: walls painted white and a new concrete floor treated with shiny epoxy, to help spread the light. And the result justified them; luminous spaces that reveal their history, a minimal approach with the necessary touch of colour, a well-designed place to feel yourself at home. One of Norm Architects’ best interior projects and certainly one of my favourites.
Published in 2011, this book by journalist Harriet Walker surveys one of the most wide-reaching movements in fashion, taking the reader through the transformations of minimalist along the decades, ever since Paul Poiret and Coco Chanel in the early 20th century, when women’s clothes became pared down and practical after centuries of complex construction. Walker argues that minimalism is not an exclusive club for intellectuals, but an egalitarian popular movement, and writing the book led other conclusions: The process of simplification has underpinned every great progression and movement, not only within womenswear but politically and culturally. Reviewing the work of designers who, over the decades, have adopted minimalist principles in their work, from Coco Chanel to Donna Karan and Jil Sander; and from the avant-garde style of Japanese masters Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto to contemporary interpretations by Gareth Pugh, Roland Mouret, COS and Zara, Less is More tells the story of an enduring aesthetic that has subtly shaped modern fashion.
With the theme of natural feminine beauty, the 2012 Pirelli Calendar was unveiled this week in New York. This edition features Mario Sorrenti‘s work (the first italian photographer chosen in the history of the 47-year old italian calendar), who deliberately chose to not portray the models in an ‘obviously’ sexy fashion, as claimed by him in an interview for WWD: Originally I thought I was going to do very sexy pictures, and when we got there I realized that I didn’t want the pictures to be sexy at all. Faithful to this year’s theme, the images are elegant compositions based on a simple formula: the combined textures of the naked skin, framed and enhanced by the natural elements of the Corsica island. Beautifully minimalistic.
Known for his iconic designs for Joy Division and New Order record sleeves, Manchester-born Peter Saville became a pivotal figure in graphic design and style culture ever since his first work for Factory Records in the late 1970s. Encouraged by friend Malcolm Garrett from early on to discover the work of early modern movement typographers, Saville found their elegantly ordered aesthetic more appealing than the anarchic style of punk graphics and from them drew the inspiration for his first commercial project, the 1978 launch poster for The Factory nightclub in Manchester. When the club spawned the Factory Records label, Saville was named its art director and given unprecedented level of freedom to design whatever he wanted. His body of work features many experimentations with printing techniques and further on with digital tools, but Saville is well-known for his refined take on Modernism and has worked with notoriously minimalist brands such as Jil Sander and Raf Simons. He has also recently designed the English football team home shirt.
In the middle of a wheat field, between the Natural Park of the Bardenas Reales de Navarra and the town of Tudela, sits the small agglomeration of buildings of the Aire de Bardenas hotel. Designed by Barcelona-based, Latin-american architects Emiliano Lopez and Mónica Rivera, the hotel was conceived as a succession of protected spaces from which to contemplate the exterior, due to the site’s exposure to very strong winds. The ensemble is composed by a series of simple monochromatic cubic structures, arranged around a central court, offering climatic protection and providing simple, generous and silent spaces. I’m particularly interested in courtyard-based constructions and this architecture has been designed with a very notable respect for its surroundings and their climatic predispositions, all the while creating a quiet oasis of beauty and peace towards its center. Photography by José Hevia.
Paul Cocksedge, London designer, moulds discarded vinyl records into a range of amplifiers for smartphones in a project called Change the Record. Made by heating and moulding the plastic disks into a funnel shape, they amplify the sound from a phone placed inside simply through the nature of their shape. The speakers were ‘launched’ this year at a live performance to music during Ron Arad’s Curtain Call installation at the Roundhouse in London, where Cocksedge himself was heating and moulding old LPs and encouraging visitors to bring their own 12” record. A simple, elegant and playful way to amplify sounds from your smartphone and recycle to boot!