Austerity Is the New Minimalism

Gabellini and Sheppard’s design for Top of the Rock, at New York’s Rockefeller Center, with its unpolished crystal formations behind a faceted tinted-glass wall, reflects the current popularity of patterned decorative surfaces but also suggests a transition to a newly emerging austerity. At the recent ICFF in New York, objects such as Jasper Morrison’s simple wooden Crate, Jonas Damon’s eco-friendly cork side tables, and Joan Gaspar’s minimalistic fluorescent light point to a return to the basic qualities of materials. The stripped-down look of these products—often grounded in sustainable thinking—and their rejection of ostentatious and wasteful ornamentation show the flip side of today’s new geometries. For a less trend-driven look at austerity, check out John Pawson’s exhibition at the Thoronet Abbey, in Provence, France: concrete benches by Pawson placed at 14 different points along a route trace the twelfth-century monastery’s connection to the architect’s ongoing search for simplicity.

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