Artwork

Minimalism + Managing Holiday Stress

If your week is anything like mine, then you are also in the weeds with Holiday craziness and scrambling to finish loose ends at work before the end of the year! I'll be traveling to Pittsburgh tomorrow to visit my in-laws and then off to my hometown the following week to celebrate with my side of the family. With so much to do, it's hard to power down enough to really embrace the special moments of the season. Going into this weekend, let's all take a moment to clear our head and think about one of my favorite aesthetic movements - Minimalism. In the art world, the Minimalism movement is defined as:   

/minəməˌlizəm/: an extreme form of abstract art developed in the USA in the 1960s and typified by artworks composed of simple geometric shapes based on the square and the rectangle

"Hang Up" by Eva Hesse (1966). Acrylic paint on cloth over wood; acrylic paint on cord over steel tube. 182.9 x 213.4 x 198.1 cm. The Art Institute of Chicago.

The Minimal aesthetic seeks a highly purified form of beauty in search of order, simplicity and harmony through literal depictions, repeated forms and direct engagement with the space it occupies. There is no display of artist emotion as in Expressionism. In fact, according to the Tate Modern, there was often a "deliberate lack of expression: With no trace of emotion or intuitive decision making, little about the artist is revealed in the work. Minimalist artists rejected the notion of the artwork as a unique creation reflecting the personal expression of a gifted individual, seeing this as a distraction from the art object itself. Instead they created objects that were as impersonal and neutral as possible." 

The movement was criticized by art critics of the day (and my husband any time we go to the museum) as being too cold and novelty. That the lack of standard aesthetic qualities that art should have was lessening the experience of the viewer and undervaluing the art object. 

The movement started to break up by the late 1960s, but the aesthetic marked a turning point in the history of modernism. The roots of the movement still remain hugely influential today for contemporary artists, architects, interior designers and product designers. You might have also heard about the Minimalist lifestyle that is such a buzz word right now.   

“The Marriage of Reason and Squalor, II”, by Frank Stella (1959). Enamel on canvas. 230.5 x 337.2 cm. MoMA.

"Two Open Modular Cubes/Half-Off", by Sol LeWitt (1972). Enamel on aluminum, 1600x3054x2330 mm. Tate Museum.

For us, Minimalism means creating interiors where every element of the design is taken into consideration and distilled into its purest form. All materials selected take into account how it will resolve when meeting other textures and forms. Layouts and furniture frame shapes are kept simple as to not become busy with intersecting and competing lines. Not all Clients want a pure Minimalist room, but every design should take these elements into consideration in order to create visual harmony.

Not sure if you want to go all the way and have your living room look like the Tate yet? One safe place to inject some of the aesthetic is in the bathroom. Take a look at these jaw-dropping bathroom fixtures we are currently gushing over!

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I feel like with bathrooms like these, Holiday stress wouldn't even phase me! They feel so calm and pure, but luxurious through the material selection. I'm especially in love with the Axor Starck Organics faucet in the first photo. Their entire collection is perfection (check it out here);  Let's build your new bathroom around it! Contact us today to get started on injecting a bit of that Minimalist philosophy into your home.  

Loving Vincent

Has anyone seen the movie Loving Vincent that is in theaters now? The trailer is so captivating and it's received a lot of praise , I'm dying to see it! The movie is a really interesting take on a biopic about the world's most famous painter - Vincent van Gogh. Even from the few clips that I've seen, you can really tell that the film is a labor of love by directors Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman. By commissioning tens of thousands of oil paintings from different artists, the filmmakers take on the question: What if van Gogh's paintings, with their vivid colors and bold brush strokes, had been able to move?

Watch the trailer here - 

If you live in the Milwaukee area, the movie is playing at the Oriental Theater on North Farwell for the next week or so. I'm planning on seeing it over the weekend. 

Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night, Saint Rémy, June 1889, oil on canvas, 29 x 36 1/4". Source: MOMA

Van Gogh's paintings are infused with emotion, vibrancy and a sense of urgency. Probably one of his most iconic paintings, The Starry Night (1889), is a great example of how the painter used brush strokes to create expressive and emotive imagery. The painting is dominated by the moon- and star-filled night sky, depicted by turbulent, swirling patterns of wind rolling across the canvas like waves. Taking a note from his painter friend,  Paul Gauguin, van Gogh drew from direct observations as well as his imagination, memories, and emotions for this painting. Such a combination of visual contrasts was generated by an artist who found beauty and interest in the night, which he described in a letter to his brother, was “much more alive and richly colored than the day.”

Art and design have always had a symbiotic relationship and van Gogh's work has been a direct inspiration for us when designing for Clients. We've even used the Almond Blossom painting shown in the banner as wallpaper in a Client's dining room.

In our interior design world, we thrive on the emotions and drama that emanate from well thought out spaces. Rooms inspired by van Gogh have primary and complementary color palettes, balance created through asymmetry, movement through pattern and a slight sense of whimsy. Here are a few great examples: 

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A particular favorite element of van Gogh's subject matter to us is his ability to combine saturated, vibrant colors with natural earth tones. An exemplary painting of this juxtaposition is the 1889 work Irises (oil on canvas, 29 1/4 × 37 1/8", J. Paul Getty Musesum). The painting features various shades of green, blue and yellow against the natural browns of the soil. We were so inspired that we put together a style board based on this painting. 

Van-Gogh-Style-Board.jpg

We love talking about what inspires us while designing - check out a previous blog post about John Rawlings's influence on interior design.