The draw of minimal design, particularly when it comes to architecture and interior design, is twofold: the timelessness of the aesthetics (by means of discovering the essence and value of a thing), and the design nuances that minimalism offers. And let it be known, there are many. So when we discovered the Italian architect Claudio Silvestrin’s Girombelli Apartment originally designed back in 1999, its relevance and ability to inspire the design of today was clear.
This 300 metres-squared apartment in the centre of Milan is characterised by a 14 metre-long satin-glass wall which separates the day and night zones. Through this glass wall there is an uninterrupted flow of both east and west sunlight. The floor is of matt white Trani stone slabs; so too are the benches and one-off bathroom fixtures. The innovative feature in this apartment is the open character of the wet area, which challenges the accepted notion of a separate, enclosed bathroom, fully embracing open-plan living.
The use of natural and artificial light throughout Girombelli is striking in itself. Silvestrin takes pleasure in finding the complexity behind a seemingly simple design. There is always a richness behind simplicity, and we gain a sense of this through the design of this apartment. Silvestrin explains:
Minimalism is not a style, it is an attitude, a way of being. It’s a fundamental reaction against noise, visual noise, disorder, and vulgarity. Minimalism is the pursuit of the essence of things, not the appearance. It is the persistent search for purity, the search for serenity, for silence as a presence, for the thickness of spaces, and for space as immensity. Minimalism is beyond time—it is timelessness, it is noble and simple materials, it is the stillness of perfection. It has to be the being itself, uncovered by useless crusts, not naked but completely defined by itself, by its being.