Let us start with one important question: what makes an interior design minimalist? Surely one of the first things to come to mind is the emblematic white cube aesthetic. The absolute prevalence of uniformity is a staple in minimalism after all, especially for those aiming to instil a sense of visual cohesion throughout. It’s easily one of the most everlasting references to serve as inspirations for architects around the world, from Portugal’s dialogue with arquitetura chã, to the reign of white in Japanese dwellings—its influence is unescapable.
On the other hand, it would be reductive to limit minimalism to a single path rooted in monochromatic and geometric elements as the ultimate expression of such a rich aesthetic.
Stepping in as the perfect poster child to showcase a different facet of minimalism is Chiang House by studio 2BOOKS DESIGN. A smart and undeniably stylish bid for what contemporary minimalism can be. Located in Hsinchu City, Taiwan, the single storey apartment offers, from the get-go, a perfect blank canvas in the form of a quasi-studio. Bringing forth the amplitude of a studio with all the benefits of typical apartments, it is a far cry from the seemingly unfinished lofts with zero installations. In a single glance one observes the understated yet very chic lounge, the Nordic-inspired dining area and, finally, a visually striking open kitchen. Each area offers a different feel without ever losing grip of cohesion.
The main statement is unapologetically delivered through a variance of colours and handpicked furniture that dares to break the mould of modernism-infused design. Furthermore, the architects decided to imprint artworks and textures throughout the main living room, as each element sports differing colours. As the project began to flirt with excess, the architects pulled on the handbrake to guarantee a minimalist identity overall. The amplitude is maintained between each section, upholding one of the main tropes of minimalism, as well as the important balance of warm colours with stark black and white.
A cosmopolitan feel is palpable as the architects dared to cast an interesting mix of materials: a bright stainless steel island, the caramel coloured sofas in the centre of the room, raw light wood for the nimble dinner table, and courageous artwork with strong visual cues. The room is bathed in an abundance of grey, from the rustic burnt cement flooring to the woodgrain cement walls. The juxtaposition of materials dares to offer new boundaries, and manages to capture the beauty of a modernist layout through the vibrancy of contemporary urbanism.
Chiang House’s prerogative as a haven for comfort is a direct reaction to the brash and chaotic urban life outside its walls. The open-plan layout provides plenty of natural light throughout the day, with an added bonus of a pair of beautifully folding glass doors leading to the greenhouse. A bonus that became one of the signature features of the apartment, as well as the duality between stark angles in the ceiling and organic shapes on the floor.
The focus on simplicity is beautifully translated through a surprising dynamic arrangement of textures, somehow retaining an austere sense of tranquility. To reframe the boundaries of minimalism is an important undertaking, as it defies the reign of the white cube in favour of another narrative to define what can be considered essential in a home.
This article was originally published in Minimalissimo Nº3