The General Aesthete - A guide to considered living through design.

Hostel in Kyonan by Yasutaka Yoshimura Architects

Built as a private training center, Hostel in Kyonan, located in the Chiba prefecture of Japan, is a complex designed by Yasutaka Yoshimura Architects. The compound consists of five buildings: three containing communal facilities such as dining and tatami rooms, the other two with internally stacked guest accommodations.

Hostel in Kyonan by Yasutaka Yoshimura Architects

Hostel in Kyonan by Yasutaka Yoshimura Architects The radial arrangement of units allows for views of Tokyo Bay from each. 

Hostel in Kyonan by Yasutaka Yoshimura Architects

Hostel in Kyonan by Yasutaka Yoshimura ArchitectsThe client’s request for a design based around the possibility of future relocation or addition, resulted in the unit’s dimensions being the size of a standard freight truck, ensuring transportability.

Hostel in Kyonan by Yasutaka Yoshimura Architects

Hostel in Kyonan by Yasutaka Yoshimura ArchitectsAn interior clad in unfinished wood, outfitted with just the necessities, makes for a minimalist, snug stay.

More at: Yasutaka Yoshimura Architects
Photos: Yasutaka Yoshimura Architects

Pillow by Snarkitecture

Pillow by Snarkitecture

Pillow by Snarkitecture

What appears to be a soft, phone-sized pillow, is actually a hand-cast gypsum cement sculpture that serves as an artfully minimalist resting place for your iPhone. Thoughtfully designed with a niche on the underside to accomodate the phone’s cable, Pillow comes from Brooklyn-based collaborative Snarkitecture.

$68, available at Snarkitecture

Capturing the Swedish West Coast with L:a Bruket

L:a Bruket Products
I’ll admit that I was first drawn to L:a Bruket by their unmistakably Scandinavian packaging (nominated for The Swedish Design Award in 2012). I kept seeing photos of the line, but never ran into it here in the States. Finally, I got my hands on a good selection, and looks aside, could not be more pleased with the products.

L:a Bruket is produced in the town of Varberg, on the west coast of Sweden. Sourcing local, raw, and organic materials for their formulations, the small company takes no interest in trends of the beauty industry as a whole, avoiding chemicals or filler at all costs; this rustic but modern approach results in a decidedly Swedish, simple-but-effective line.

L:a Bruket SeaweedPerhaps L:a Bruket’s most interesting product is not so much a “product” at all, but Tångbad: dried, hand-harvested Swedish seaweed. Because this variety, Fucus Serratus, lives by filtering the ocean for nutrients, it amasses large quantities of vitamins and minerals. Possessing many health benefits, including circulation improvement and muscle relaxation, as well as antioxidant compounds that help with the signs of aging and treatment to skin irritation, the seaweed helps to recreate a restorative dip in the coastal waters of Sweden, especially when combined with L:a Bruket’s minimalist white envelope of Havssalt.

Like many of its other exports, Sweden excels in the grooming department (think Sachajuan, Verso, Byredo) but perhaps what L:a Bruket demonstrates so beautifully is that simplicity is the premier luxury.

More at: L:a Bruket

Wing Photographs by Linden Gledhill

Linden Gledhill

Linden Gledhill

Linden Gledhill

Linden Gledhill

Without more information, the subject of this series of photographs by Linden Gledhill appears unidentifiable: complex metallic patterning and petal-like structure. Amazingly, the trained biochemist has captured the unique and endlessly fascinating details of butterfly and moth wings with macro photography; these very-close shots reveal the intricate, fragile patterns of the insect’s surface scales. With a remarkable range of color and texture, the images are not only inspiring, but eye-opening to the symmetry and otherworldly details of nature we might otherwise take for granted.

More at: Linden Gledhill

Men’s Sandals: Not a Problem

Men's Sandals

The subject of men’s sandals is, unreasonably, a controversial one. There is the school of “NO,” and also the trend-obsessed that build their collection around each year’s round of flashy, over-the-top status sandals. It is strange that there is so much taboo about a man in open shoes; the sandal is not a modern invention, we know enough from history (and, well, “historic” films) to be sure of that, yet somehow the flimsy flip-flop has become an American standard. It doesn’t help that the ubiquitous sandal primers of men’s magazines seem to be more filler and “the latest” than guiding. As it turns out, the sandal game is much easier than we’re led to believe.

This is not a discussion of open shoes as a whole, not the post-surf appropriate flip-flop or gym shower slides, but a beautifully crafted sandal that can comfortably work casually or dressed up. And as fine materials don’t always make for inexpensive (a reminder to check the racks come end-of-season), it is smart to invest judiciously. Perhaps the most important note in selecting the right design is to err on the side of classic, not necessarily a matter of being safe, but considering the life of the shoes. There are modernized, minimized, and amped-up versions of time honored designs that will be as valuable in your wardrobe a few summers later, and this consideration of amortization and enduring style should be prioritized.

A trend in 2014 Spring collections was leather-strapped fisherman sandals, a classic style that doesn’t overdo it; a great thing about a solid design like this is that you can accommodate trends around it (see Carven’s SS14 presentation: a palette-concious, 1940s sock and Greek sandal look).

Men's SandalsSpring 2014 looks at Christophe Lemaire and Carven.

The bottom line is to tread carefully, but not to be scared. It may be a luxury to have other options in the closet, but just like snow boots, you only really need one first-rate pair.

Above, six picks that will live as warm-season staples for some time: 1. Jimmy Choo Hayman, $595; 2. Lanvin, $540; 3. Carven X Ancient Greek Sandals Cleon $364; 4. Givenchy, $690; 5. Marni, $660; 6. Costume National, $795

Omizubata N House by Iida Archiship Studio

Innovative Japanese architecture firm Iida Archiship Studio has built a strong reputation with modernist structures that are thoughtfully responsive to their surroundings. This example, the Omizubata N House, set within the forested town of Kauizawa, is a weekend retreat that, like Iida’s other work, gracefully balances elegance and minimalism, while taking its immediate environment into serious consideration.

Omizubata N HouseStacked concrete columns support an exaggerated, dissymmetrical roof that extends to create a wraparound veranda and significant outdoor space at the structure’s front. The house’s open-to-nature design is obvious, while still maintaining a good sense of order and just enough transparency.

Omizubata N House

Omizubata N HouseInside, the gabled-roof design allows for a double-height ceiling, as well as a lofted study.

Omizubata N HouseWood-clad finishing both references and communicates with the forested environment.

Omizubata N House

More at: Iida Archiship Studio
Photos: Iida Archiship Studio

National Fragrance Day

Today is National Fragrance Day, which is just another one of those not-really-a-holiday holidays. Nonetheless, as has been hinted here before, I’m a serious fragrance lover myself. I am the crazy person that, in a state of perfume-induced inebriation, wanders out of Aedes de Venustas to the streets of New York City, like a drunk straight from the bar. My endless fascination with the sense of smell, the evocations of fragrance, and how perfume works with an individual’s body chemistry, have resulted in a collection that could adequetely perfume a few lifetimes. I thought it might be fun to introduce you to a couple of my favorites that are well-suited to this time of year, and also look good on the shelf (this is The General Aesthete, after all).


The Infidels by AGONIST

AGONIST is one of my favorite fragrance houses; based in Sweden, their scents are inspired by the Nordic climate and culture, and their raw but nuanced approach to perfume and tone is really in its own league.

The Infidels is an unusual and strangely faceted perfume that I consider on the masculine side of unisex. At first spray, you get a strong, surprisingly fresh smell, which, with a little time, develops into something rich and mysterious, but still quietly underlined by sharpness. The concentrated jammy base, combined with a good dose of cumin, evokes something carnal but not overbearing. During its dark phase, The Infidels offers woody florals, aforementioned cumin that progresses through its own chapters, and an interesting powder note, something I’d typically shy away from, but that is not off-putting or flat. The Infidels is not so unusual as to be distracting, but its references to brooding anger and sex are interesting to experience as it develops on your skin. Strangely, it seems that after this low-on-the-skin heaviness passes, the perfume returns to a palatable (albeit very discreet) freshness, almost like it never happened in the first place, making The Infidels one of those perfumes that is even more for the wearer than for those you encounter. As AGONIST describes the fragrance as “inspired by the exact moment when the bud is about to burst,” The Infidels is perfect for those still-cold spring nights.




Geranium pour Monsieur by Frédéric Malle

On a fresher note, Geranium pour Monsieur by Frédéric Malle is a genius composition by perfumer Dominique Ropion. On paper, the clean sharpness of this fragrance would make for something I’d be hesitant to even consider, but it turns out Geranium pour Monsieur is a bit of a perfume Trojan horse. The bitter mint and menthol opening is structured in a way that isn’t comparable to the mint quality you might be used to in other men’s fragrance (read: chewing gum), but it isn’t really wearable at that pitch. Luckily, in short time, it develops into a perfectly elegant, very clean, but distinctive scent. The inclusion of interesting synthetic additives (an across-the-industry norm, but something the Malle house seems to excel in) provides odd notes of anise and floral that you can’t quite pinpoint, but don’t have a chemical tone, making for the perfect dry down, where a discreet note of incense also makes an appearance. Simple, but thoughtfully composed without even a single floral note, Geranium pour Monsieur is a fragrance that is decidedly spring.

More at: AGONIST, Frédéric Malle

“Odors have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will. The persuasive power of an odor cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally. There is no remedy for it.”
― Patrick Süskind, Perfume

Lighting by Lukas Peet

Lukas Peet is a Canadian designer who received his industrial design training at the prestigious Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands. This year’s winner of Canada’s The Design Exchange Emerging Designer competition, Peet practices in several fields, receiving much recognition for his elegantly minimalist lighting designs.

Lukas Peet, Rudi

One of Peet’s most iconic designs is the Rudi series. Produced in collaboration with New York City-based manufacturer Roll & Hill, Rudi consists of bent metal tubes holding dimmable cold cathode lamps. The form resembles fine jewelry, and the light is suspended by its own cord, simply knotted at the top.



A couple of Peet’s latest designs include Slab, a flat LED pendant, produced in a variety of surfaces (shown in felt), as well as Button, a tiltable LED pendant that hangs from a nylon rope through holes in the lamp itself, just like a button.


While Peet’s striking table lamps are only prototypes, their studied, timeless designs are certainly worth mentioning. Specular and Diffuse merge beauty and function; Specular, inspired by specular reflections and rays of light, illuminates both table surface and ceiling, without the blinding effect of a bare bulb. Diffuse, a smaller-scale lamp, is composed of a ceramic base and a simple mirrored bulb to produce a warm table or desktop glow.

With many outstanding lighting designers emerging of late, Lukas Peet is certainly one to keep an eye on. Though this is just a brief introduction to one facet of his work, Peet’s imaginative, but practical designs have a stamp and direction all their own.

More at: Lukas Peet Design

Light Interventions by Javier Riera

Jaiver Riera

Javier Riera

Jaiver Riera

Jaiver Riera

Spanish artist Javier Riera’s light “interventions” are created by projecting geometric shapes onto natural vegetation. The play of light and shape manipulates our perception of the organic design and edges of nature we are so accustomed to, resulting in an impressive sight that is also sometimes strangely sci-fi.

Riera’s ongoing investigation into the relationship between landscape and geometry includes  realtime projections in public spaces, including a highly regarded installation at the Turia Gardens in Valencia, where 11 light projections were situated throughout a path of 200 meters.

Describing his work, Riera states: “My intervention is ephemeral, it does not leave a trace in nature. It comes and leaves.”

More at: Javier Riera

3.1 Phillip Lim FW14

3.1 Phillip Lim Menswear F/W 2014

Phillip Lim’s version of the western man is a cool one; not the Marlboro Man and definitely not in the Ralph Lauren realm, his look is city smart, but on an American West canvas. This cowboy inspiration in Lim’s 3.1 Fall 2014 collection made use of the expected: leather and denim, but Lim also made a good effort to work in a bit of the future, with metallics and textural combinations that keep the collection from looking too calculated.

The simpler pieces really carry the presentation, where the clothes don’t read as having an agenda (the horse motif might be a bit literal). The fits aren’t always traditional, and it is a good thing; tops are flowy, but fall perfectly, and the layering doesn’t come off baggy, instead clean and just a notch below “too much.” Oversized sweaters could not be more effortlessly hip, and my favorite homage to the cowboy, Lim’s interpretation of the classic silk range scarf, is surprising in that it actually works.

See the complete collection at: 3.1 Phillip Lim

Photos: Marcus Tondo