Formed in 2004, Torafu Architects are a Japanese studio founded by Koichi Suzuno and Shinya Kamuro. The duos work is fantastic, covering a broad and diverse range that includes everything from product design and architecture; to interiors, installations and film making. Recently they collaborated with the well-established Japanese furniture manufacturer Hida Sangyo to produce a furniture collection called Cobrina.
The name Cobrina comes from the Japanese expression “koburi-na”, which is used to describe things that are small or undersized. It’s a fitting name for a collection that is designed to be small and lightweight. For the duo, it was important that the furniture could easily be moved around – perfect for those who have compact living areas!
Consisting of nine pieces, the furniture is made in beautiful oak and each piece is characterized by its playful rounded shapes on both its surfaces and its legs.
I love the simplicity and the elegance of this furniture. The hat-stand that includes a small bowl for keys and wallet is a wonderful touch and the bright blue of the chairs adds a lot of great color to a perfectly restrained collection. More images from Torafu Architects can be seen on their website.
Since the early 90’s the German photographer Hans-Christian Schink has been bringing his unique perspective to the world. Represented internationally by many museums and galleries, his photographs often cover a broad range of subjects but a fascination with landscape always seems to be at the heart of his work.
Between 1995 and 2003 he produced a body of work called Walls. Easily his most abstract series to date, the work highlights Schink’s direct, near confrontational, manner of photography. Shot with a large format camera, the series consists of 11 images, each one demonstrating the photographers strict approach to his subject matter.
The photographs examine the architecture of commercial buildings. Each image resembles a large color field paintings, with Schink paring down his subject matter to a point of graphic abstraction. Only the smallest hint of subject matter can be detected from the tiny traces of pathways and skylines that Schink choose to include at the edges of his work.
Personally I love the restraint in this series. There’s a striking directness about each image and the colors of these buildings are just wonderful. You can see the complete series on Schink’s website and make sure to also check out more of his work while you’re there.
Deep in Germany’s Bavarian countryside you’ll find these beautifully simple holiday cottages designed by studio Format Elf Architekten. The three buildings were commissioned by Hofgut; a hotel that already offers 7 cabins, a spa and a restaurant. Designed for guests who are looking to stay for a longer period of time, they look like the perfect place to relax, recuperate and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
Photographed here by Lothar Reichel, you can see just how beautiful these buildings are. They were designed to resemble the agricultural buildings of the region, yet in their black-stained timber cladding and their simple form I think they have a real sense of elegance about them.
Despite their initial similarities there are subtle differences between all three cottages. For example, one is located in a small clearing in the woods and its interior has been enhanced with darker elements to echo its more intimate location. Another can be found beside sloping fields and the architects have decided to use a lighter palette for this cottage. The third can found at the edge of a pond, and this one features the lightest finish. All three offer a large floor space, a kitchen area and a mezzanine.
They’re a beautiful collection of buildings and I can imagine that they offer a wonderful spot for those looking to getaway from the demands of a busy lifestyle. More work from Format Elf Architekten can be seen on their website.
Inka Lindergård and Niclas Holmström are two Swedish-based artists who collaborate together to create some truly striking images. Based in Stockholm, they frequently travel in search of the perfect landscape for their work.
At the core of what they do is an interest in the power of nature and landscape. They are particularly drawn to our perception of these things. Why is it that we like a sunset over an ocean; why are we filled with awe when we see a mountain range?
Often verging on the supernatural, their work plays with the components of nature that inspire awe. Take for example this series entitled The Belt of Venus and the Shadow. Here the duo extract the lush colors of a sunset and transfer them to the rocks of the shoreline. By doing so the natural becomes the unnatural and the tangible suddenly becomes metaphysical.
It’s a beautiful series and I think the simplicity of their idea is very effective. The Belt of Venus and the Shadow is only one of a number of projects that explore similar territory. You can see more work from Inka and Niclas on their website.
Canadian photographer Sean Mundy may only be 22 but boy can he take photographs! A native of Montreal, Mundy’s work draws heavily from iconography, symbolism and the surreal. There’s something cinematic in his images and I love that they all seem to tell a story, even if the story is one we don’t quite understand.
Mundy utilizes digital art to construct his work yet this never comes across as showy or heavy-handed. His digital trickery only serves the work and the images he constructs. Instead of offering one answer to the meaning behind his photographs, Mundy prefers to leave his images open to interpretation; he allows for the viewer to add their own meaning to this work.
For me it’s the simplicity and the elegance in his imagery that I love and I think many of his photographs have a fantastically macabre tone. You can see more from Mundy on his Tumblr.
Stephen Kelleher is an Irish-born designer based in Brooklyn. For more than ten years he’s been honing his craft; building a portfolio that is packed full of exciting projects and great ideas. Chiefly working in illustration and motion, he has collaborated with clients such as Coca-Cola, Cartoon Network, Google and The New York Times. For me, he demonstrates a real gift for simplicity and I love his approach to both color and shape.
Recently he worked on a wonderful self-directed project called ‘Mind Yourself’. Made from wood and painted with acrylics, the series consists of three separate pieces. Stephen describes them as “meditations on self-realization and self-preservation”; each one acting as a reminder to take a moment to remember to take care of yourself. The work demonstrates a wonderful talent for simplicity and I love to see a designer step away from their computer and actually make something with their hands. The results are terrific.
More work from Stephen Kelleher can be viewed on his website.
I find the image above to be hugely arresting. Taken from a series by photographer Heather Rasmussen called Untitled (after the fire), the image depicts what remains of a doorway after a house fire. As a viewer, I feel somewhat removed from the incident; initially simply drawn to the formal qualities of the work, and yet I’m also struck by the destruction it depicts and haunted by the reflective quality that shines through it.
For Rasmussen the photographs obviously take on a much deeper meaning. She says that the fire caused her to take a look at her life and her possessions. For her, the fire was a moment to step back and decide what was important in her life and to also re-evaluate what comfort and home meant to her. “Through photographing the damaged areas” she says, “I have allowed myself to see what was there before the flames”.
It’s quite a touching and reflective series and I feel it should act as a prompt for others to take a little moment to appreciate the things that they do have in life and to appreciate what home and comfort means to them.
More images from this series and other works can be viewed on Rasmussen’s website.
Take a look at the image above and what do you see? A bat? A monster? A shopping bag? … Something else? Created by Korean artist Kyung-Woo Han, the artwork is a Rorschach test and like any Rorschach its meaning is open to interpretation.
Han is a graduate of both the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. There’s a playfulness to his work that really appeals to me and he often incorporates optical illusions within his multidisciplinary practice. For Han, the aim is always to create both a sense of wonder and bewilderment for his viewer.
The simplicity of this work is what I find most appealing. Boldly graphic, the images play with perception; forcing the viewer to question even further what they see in each picture. If you ask me, this series feels like René Magritte’s The Treachery of Images for a generation raised by consumerism. I love it!
See more optical work from Han on his website.