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Born again: rediscovering midcentury design icons

These examples of minimalist architecture place life in the foreground – clutter is demoted; joy promoted. Elevating interiors to places of peace, these buildings created by design pioneers help us to trace a recent history of minimalism in home design.

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Smooth surfaces and white walls keep the small space feeling open and airy. “We didn’t want too much texture or too many distractions that might make it feel even smaller,” says Mitanidis. One side of the building opens up to the main road, and the other to the back garden, allowing natural light to easily flow through the oversized windows. In the bedroom, the window goes right down to the floor; the glass pane fills an opening that once was used to load in hay. 

With increased use comes increased problems: Public land managers must contend with people hiking off-trail, driving or parking off-road, trampling vegetation, not packing out trash, setting illegal and abandoned campfires, and overcrowding.

A wonderful serenity has taken possession of my entire soul, like these sweet mornings of spring which I enjoy with my whole heart. I am alone, and feel the charm of existence in this spot, which was created for the bliss of souls like mine. I am so happy, my dear friend, so absorbed in the exquisite sense of mere tranquil existence, that I neglect my talents. I should be incapable of drawing a single stroke at the present moment; and yet I feel that I never was a greater artist than now.

When, while the lovely valley teems with vapour around me, and the meridian sun strikes the upper surface of the impenetrable foliage of my trees, and but a few stray gleams steal into the inner sanctuary, I throw myself down among the tall grass by the trickling stream; and, as I lie close to the earth, a thousand unknown plants are noticed by me: when I hear the buzz of the little world among the stalks, and grow familiar with the countless indescribable forms of the insects and flies, then I feel the presence of the Almighty, who formed us in his own image, and the breath of that universal love which bears and sustains us, as it floats around us in an eternity of bliss.

Photo credit: Benjamin Suter @Unsplash.

And then, my friend, when darkness overspreads my eyes, and heaven and earth seem to dwell in my soul and absorb its power, like the form of a beloved mistress, then I often think with longing, Oh, would I could describe these conceptions, could impress upon paper all that is living so full and warm within me, that it might be the mirror of my soul, as my soul is the mirror of the infinite God!

I’ve gone off fiction a bit because I’ve read too many novels. I think, ‘Oh, God. I know what’s going to happen next.’

O my friend — but it is too much for my strength — I sink under the weight of the splendour of these visions! A wonderful serenity has taken possession of my entire soul, like these sweet mornings of spring which I enjoy with my whole heart. I am alone, and feel the charm of existence in this spot, which was created for the bliss of souls like mine.

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In their search for the ideal year-round holiday retreat from their ‘box-shaped house’ in Tokyo, a Japanese family enlisted John Pawson Architects to design them a modern and minimalist vacation home on the island of Okinawa, the country’s southernmost prefecture. Developed by Taishi Kanemura, from Pawson’s London office, the execution of the interior programme and external shape of the home was led by the site’s catenary curve.

Further Reading
The City Beautiful Movement was a reform philosophy

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